Day three of the "not quite solo" autumn trip
26th September 2010
Having reached our destination at Maket Drayton it was time to turn tail and head for home. The snag was that we were not alone. A goodly contingent of the IWA delegates had similar plans and we headed south as part of a veritable convoy.
A helping hand at Tyrely
We made slow progress up the Tryley flight but as I was working solo I was never gong to move very fast. Fortunately a number of craft were coming down which eased my path no end. Whilst Woodseaves was very pretty our progress was hampered by a couple undergoing boat handling tuition and a huge fishing match which straggled on for a couple of miles from Goldstone Wharf. This group of fishermen were more surly than most and in spite of our slow speed and cheery waves our response rate was a mere to 25% - way down on the more usual 50%. If you ever get bored idling past fishing matches this game "charm offensive" can be quite distracting - as well as fostering good relations between boaters and fishermen.
We arrived at Norbury at 3.30pm and on this occasion the mooring was empty so we were able to stop and pump out. Mind you, their price with Blue is now a whopping £20! Maybe its time to get a self pump out unit. But the pump out was just the start of it.
The batteries on WB have lasted us five seasons and they were not new when we got her ,so I knew they were on borrowed time. Our battery monitoring is a bit primitive to say the least. There is no gauge so I figure that as long as the fridge lasts overnight the batteries are OK, but when they don't they have died. Last night they failed the test so I picked up two new ones (that's all we use on WB), and whilst I was about it I bought a new thin drive belt as the old one is tired and stretched to its limit. When extracted one battery was found to be utterly dead and the other hanging on by a whisker.
Rather than delay things I moored up and replaced the batteries. This went OK except that the terminals on the new batteries are on the other side to the old ones. This resulted in a bit of juggling with the leads but it all fitted OK in the end. The drive belt was another matter. I swapped like for like but in spite of getting a 100cm one I couldn't get it on the pulley for love nor money. In the end I went back to the chandlery to try and swap it for a 102.5cm belt but of course they didn't have one. They refunded my £9.99 and I refitted the old old one, but got filthy in the process. I ended up going into Halfords and picked up an appropriate belt for £3.99!
The trip into Norbury had been in the company of a pair of day boats, one in front and one behind. These small craft were packed with a bunch of hard drinking but good humoured young people. In the morning their progress had been reasonable but as the alcohol was consumed (and the canal littered with bottles and cans) their path became aver more erratic. They repeatedly crashed into the trees, dropping stuff overboard but surprisingly keeping most of their crew on board. This was funny to watch but ultimately became frustrating. They eventually buried themselves in a tree on the approach to Grub St Cutting and we slipped by, handing back a pirates hat we had recovered from the canal earlier! The staff at Norbury junction greeted the news with grim faces - the group had hit the bottles as soon as they got aboard, and they clearly had reservations about the hiring.
We carried on through Gnosall in the gathering gloom but as we wanted a shorter last day we moved on into the twilight, mooring at a favourite spot in the little cutting just before the Wheaton Aston Embankment. This spot offers seclusion, deep water and shelter from any wind.
Matilda and I had been undertaking a Scrabble tournament over the weekend and having seen her move into a 2-0 lead this last night allowed me to claw back to a very respectable 2-2 draw.