Today we take our leave from the Explorer Cruise. They are heading for Wednesbury and a night in the stub of the Bentley Canal, whereas we will turn right at the end the the Walsall Branch and head east on the Wyrley and Essington.
The plan was to get back to Longwood in late afternoon and in theory this was completely achievable - but it was not to be. We set off from the basin a good 10 minutes after the previous boat at 9.00am and expected to be straight into the eight Walsall Locks, sped on our way with some Lock Wheelers from the Society.
Walsall Basin choc a bloc with boats
As we approached the bottom lock there were five boats waiting and it appeared that there was a boat in each lock and another in each pound as far as we could see. News filtered back that there was a problem five locks up where a bottom gate would not open fully. DIY efforts failed so CRT were called from Ocker Hill and after about an hour of fiddling with the BCNS three part Keb they managed to roll the obstruction out of the way. The item in question was never retrieved but the working assumption was that it was some masonry fallen from the wall behind the lock gate.
Boats queuing at Walsall Locks - that's got to be a first!
The upshot of all this was that rather than exiting the top lock soon after 10.00am we didn't actually get out till about 2.30pm - four hours late. Oh - and the rain never ceased!
And so we started the long slow crawl along the W&E in the sure and certain knowledge that reaching Longwood before dark was unlikely. Fred needed to be at the hospital the next day so he was collected at Brownhills and I opted to plod on by myself for a while. By 7.30pm it was getting dull, I was cold and the rain continued.
I figured that if I did make it to base it would be in the dark and I would still need to go back to the boat to empty and moor it the next day so I opted to call it a day at some offside moorings near Aldridge Marina - perversely about half a mile from home! By this time the cooker had decided to pack up so my evening meal was a couple of rolls, the contents of the fridge and a bowl of cereal.
Sorry about the lack of photos - it was too wet for the camera.
Not a perfect day afloat.