John had come only prepared for sunshine and it wasn’t shining, fortunately we were able to provide him with waterproofs. As we passed the Ratcliffe-upon-Soar power station and left the security of the little River Soar and headed out onto the huge River Trent the weather brightened but the wind was strong and biting. We were only on the river for a short while, before we entered the Trent & Mersey Canal via a pair of big, automatically operated, double locks. The lock keeper wasn’t on duty and I had to climb up the ladder set into lock access wall, whilst John struggled against the wind to get SKYY into the lock. The instructions on the lock operating consul were idiot proof and soon we were back into the relative security of a canal.
We entered the first of the canals double locks and waited whilst a CanalBoat Hire boat struggled to come in alongside us. It was skippered by a relatively capable older lady, but her elderly husband didn’t have much of a clue. She said that this was their first full day of their holiday and their son, who had been reluctantly persuaded to come on a canal holiday, had already fallen in the cut and had confined himself to the cabin, saying, “I want to go home”. This lock was leaking a lot of water through the top gate and as their boat had gone to far forward; water was cascading into the front well, until John shouted for her to move the boat back. Her husband was rather ineffectually pulling on the mid rope from the top of the lock and then I saw that the boat was canted over as he had got the rope locked around the central bollard, as the boat continued to rise it tilted further and further. I jumped over onto their boat and tried to release the rope, but it was locked tight around the bollard. I shouted out for the top paddles to be shut and then I grabbed a windlass and reopened the bottom paddles and eventually as the water dropped, the boat leveled and the rope was released and we proceeded to lock up. I suggested that they left the lock first so that we could keep an eye on them, but the lady said that they had caused us enough of a nuisance and I guessed they decided to tie up and reconsider their options. It really is a worry that such inexperienced people can take out sixteen tons of canal boat with so little tuition and get themselves into so many dangerous situations so quickly.
We continued to the delightful community of Shardlow, this was a very important wharf and warehouse centre in the past and we moored up right along side the road with a choice of two pubs within twenty yards. Brian and Anne joined the party in the afternoon, they live near Nottingham, and so had no excuse not to come over. They visited us in March last year and have had canal holidays themselves, but have also owned a proper sailing boat and have seriously sailed the oceans.
We went to the Navigation Inn for our dinner, a little further away than the two local ones, and had seriously great service and food. For John and me, it was Pie Night; the steak pie was superb, followed by equally yummier apple pie. However it has to be said that John had bought and cooked the previous evening, fillet steak and that was the best steak, Jacquie and I had eaten in a long time.
We staggered back to the boat and said goodbye to Brian & Anne and we collapsed into our beds.