We left Boxmoor under a grey sky. It was cold and windy, but looked as if it might improve with time. Fishery Lock was next, the nearby ancient inn still closed and looking sad. Boxmoor Top Lock, then on to Winkwell. I love the electrically controlled swing bridge there. All that power given to you at the press of a button! Barriers come down across the road, lights flash, a claxon sounds, cars and lorries stop, and the bridge swings back, allowing Kantara through. And the road vehicles have to wait patiently for this slow craft, and until I press the button to return the bridge, raise the barriers and let them across. There's a sign by the bridge, warning boaters that failure to "close and fasten" the bridge might result in a ten shilling fine! I felt 50p was a bit steep, so I pressed the button.
|The Rising Sun has an amusing welcome sign outside|
|Another tame heron|
|Clearly, the home of some Native Americans|
At one lock, a bystander was clearly a bit agitated about the way I was ignoring the warning which is commonly seen at top gates.This is a very valid warning, but the fact is that, with care, the flow from the top paddles can be used very effectively in raising a single narrowboat in a double-width lock.
A single boat going up a wide lock is very likely to be thrown all over the place as the chamber is filled. The use of ropes and bollards goes some way to check this, but we've found that that's usually quite unnecessary. What we do is this...
Grace draws the boat up against a chamber wall. I open the ground paddle on the same side as the boat. The water from this sluice goes across the chamber in front of Kantara, hits the wall opposite, and comes back against the side of her hull, pinning her firmly to the wall. I then cross the top gates and slowly and carefully open the gate paddle on the other side. This has the effect of sending a torrent of water straight down the chamber alongside Kantara, holding her even more firmly against the wall. I can now open the ground paddle on this same side, then, when the water level in the chamber is higher than the other gate paddle, I raise that. All of that has to be done carefully and judiciously, but it's our normal practice, and it works well for us.
At Berkhamsted Lock 53, we found two narrowboats waiting to enter and descend. One of them was being towed by the owner.
In Berkhamsted, we arrived at our usual spot, and tied up behind NB Muttley. The lady on board recognised Kantara, and came out to tell us she'd read my book, and how much she'd enjoyed it. I was chuffed. She and her husband, along with nearby NB Tickedy-Boo, are on their way to the IWA Canalway Cavalcade, to be held over the May Bank Holiday. She's recently retired, and now does a lot of work for IWA. It's a shame we couldn't have stayed in London to attend the Cavalcade, but the length of the wait was prohibitive.
|photo - boatingbusiness.com|
It's raining. That wasn't mentioned by the Met Office. We're here for the night.