Tuesday, July 12, 2016

On up through Stoke on Trent

Barlaston was a good place to moor. Pleasing to the eye, peaceful to the ear. Apart, that is, from the nearby railway. Though Grace and I have realized recently that we generally filter out railway noise these days, and don't really notice it at all.

We were expecting today to be a long one, so we started out towards Stoke on Trent a bit earlier than usual.

I'll mention the weather today, because it was quite significant. The weather forecast first thing was a bit indecisive. It might pour with rain. It might not. Maybe. We were not going to be deterred, however, so we took the risk. And got a bit wet, to say the least. This was solely because of three or four cats, dogs and buckets episodes, none of which lasted longer than fifteen minutes. But at that order of magnitude, that was quite enough!

At Trentham Lock, 12 foot seep, so it was going to be a slow one, we found ourselves at the back of a queue of four other boats waiting to go up. Another joined behind us shortly afterwards. We hadn't queued at a lock for ages!

Two of the boats were folk on holiday and understandably slow due to lack of experience. One of the crew from the craft immediately in front of us, chosen to operate the locks, had never done it before, nor had it explained to her. I was happy to assist.

Incidentally, neither Trentham Lock, nor any others today apart from that at the top of the Trent Flight, had anti-vandal locks fitted to the paddle mechanisms. I was misinformed yesterday.

After Trentham, we came up behind this holiday boat at each successive lock, and another came up fast behind us, so I got to chat with the crews quite a lot. The main man from this second boat was in his late 40s, I guess, and he'd been on a canal holiday most years since 1977. His youngest daughter was with him, his sister and brother-in-law, and his mum. His wife and eldest daughter had stayed at home. They do very year. They don't like canal holidays.
Welcome to Stoke on Trent!
These were deep locks, still. Trentham is 12 foot deep. Most were gentle as they were filled, but the last one, taking advantage of how we were accustomed to being slow and kind, took us all by surprise. It caught Kantara in a strong current and threw her at the top gates. Grace gave the poor engine full reverse throttle, and I dropped a top gate paddle. There was rather more than a tickle between Kantara's prow and the gates, but no harm was done. Except to Grace's nerves!
Relics of former potteries...

Some of the locks...

Etruria Lock

The hire boat in front of has had been having its own problems. While they'd been in Etruria Lock, waiting for it to fill, there came cries for help. Neither their crew at the gates nor the helmsman Dad seemed to hear the shouting. If it's not one of their party, I thought, perhaps it's Grace. She was hidden from my view. I ran to the bridge across the bottom of the lock (photo above) and looked down. Much to my relief, all was well with her, so I hurried back to the lockside, to see Dad scurrying down into his boat.

It transpired that the elderly mother had fallen and hit her head, which was bleeding profusely. His wife got called in to help, and I sent the other woman to go with her, leaving me to deal with the gates. After some wait, Dad drove the boat out and moored it immediately. We brought Kantara up, and continued past the troubled holiday party.

It was very definitely lunch time now, and we needed somewhere to moor. A fellow boater had earlier recommended to me a good mooring alongside Westport Park, so this is where we stopped for lunch. And remained there until the morning.

The holiday family arrived some hours later, and moored not far from us, but when I walked past the boat in the evening, the windows were curtained, and the people had gone. What a sad, sudden ending to their holiday.

Westport Lake, next to our mooring.

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