Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Little Onn to Calf Heath

Tuesday 21st October 2008
Little Onn to Calf Heath
Shropshire Union and Staffs & Worcs Canals

14 Miles
2 Locks
6 Hours

After yesterdays rain it was a delight to see the day dawn clear and bright. The seemingly unoccupied boat behind me did in fact have a crew on board, one that are currently unhappily based at Otherton Marina, and who are active members in the escape committee seeing refuge at Calf Heath!. We have heard so many bad reports about the way boaters are treated at Otherton it is hardly a surprise that they are barely 2/3rd full.

The day was truly exceptional with bright sunshine and gentle winds, but more boaters than one generally expects this late in the season.

I made an obligatory stop at Wheaton Aston filling station and topped off the diesel tank (62p per litre) and was advised that the 60:40 split is by no means obligatory, it is all down to self declaration, which the garage is happy to accept. When applied, the extra tax will cost an additional 50p per litre, which sounds a lot but when considered on an annual basis, it is not enough to dissuade us from boating.

From Diesel I moved on to the self service pump out only to discover that both my pre paid meter cards have been used by friends who have borrowed the boat and replaced the cards, fully used. Its not the money that matters, it’s the inconvenience of only finding out when all connected to the machine! Grr. In future I will hide my BW payment cards.
Whilst “not” pumping out I encountered another of the genial solitary male continuous cruisers sailing aboard “Directors Cut”, selling some lovely photos to supplement his pension. It is interesting how the linear village throws you into contact with complete strangers, most of whom display a warmth and willingness to engage which you never find on land.

The stretch from Wheaton Aston to Brewood was a stunning show of autumn colour – the best I have ever witnessed. This left the cut clogged with leaves, of course, but that was a small price to pay for the experience. And anyway, you always get there in the end.

As it’s the last trip of the season I tried to get a pump out at Autherley, but the staff had all gone out to rescue on of their cruisers leaving a cleaner to man (actually it was “woman”) the shop. Her remit didn’t extend to pump outs so the holding tank got a good dollop of Blue and I will keep my fingers crossed that the new tank ventilation system via the rinse pipe continues to do the trick. If it lasts all winter without stinking I will become a true convert of the maxim that “a well ventilated tank is a non smelly tank”.

Finally made it back to Calf Heath at 4.30 and said a sad goodbye to WB and the last proper trip of 2008.

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