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Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Stuck on the River Calder in RED and a fish out of water...

On Friday we began our jaunt out to Leeds on the boat.  We knew that Woodnock lock  (the lock out on to the Calder at Fairies Hill) had broken the week before and CRT were only allowing assisted passage between 09.00-10.00 and 14.30 - 15.30hrs....  realistically, given the amount of chores we needed to do on Friday morning there wasn't the opportunity to catch the first penning through so once we'd filled the water tank, it was about 11 when we began a leisurely chug towards  the aforementioned lock.

The wind was up and whilst quite bright, it did make it a bit chilly.

Arriving at the lock landing in the wind we encountered a boat moored on it so we had to loiter for a while on the water-point in front... I dont like doing this but the wind was quite strong so it felt the safest option compared to bashing pins in further up the bank - given the boat was pointing the other way, we assumed the owner was just using the loo or making a brew.

2 hours later, a woman left the boat and drove away and the chap immediately continued with his journey...  I can't imagine what they were doing... (certainly not for THAT length of time ;-) )

As soon as there was room, I pulled us off the water point and back to the lock landing... when another boat appeared and once in proper view we realised it was our young (well our age) boaty friends  - TOTAL coincidence as although I'd dropped Tony a message a week before on Thunderboat to see if they fancied coming along, he'd not read it.  It transpired they HAD planned to go somewhere else but missed the early lock session and changed their plans to a weekend in Leeds instead... which was great news for us as, a side from being great company, we shared locks (and mutual paint removal ;-) in the wind ).

The Crt man turned up early and let us through straight away which was good - we' only planned to go as far as Lemonroyd but with the extra bit of time now available, ended up stopping for the night just above Woodlesford.  

Quite a chilly night so after a post cruise beer (or gin and wine in our case) and chin wag, we agreed a 'sailing time for Saturday morning' and retired to our respective boats to cook dinner... and light fires.

Saturday dawned bright (and still too breezy really) and Andy had a bit of an accident whilst watering the plants on the roof - the ground between the metal piling rail and bank gave way under him and he fell through, grazing and bruising his leg... AND throwing a jug of canal water through the side hatch in the process.  SYMPATHETIC as ever,  ONCE I'd mopped up the dirty water I ensured he was ok... me being one just to swear loudly and jump around when I hurt myself, you can gather how horrified I was when Vicky suggested putting ICE on it quickly...  ICE on our boat is generally reserved for Gin and Tonic.....  reluctantly, I counted out a generous 6 cubes and put them in a bag for him.

SUBSEQUENT cool packs consisted of "jubbly" ice lollies which could be re-used lol.

Once he'd hobbled on to the boat, we set off for a lovely cruise to Leeds.


The wind varied between gale force and tranquil... and we took turns working the locks to make it easier.  

Once again we came across  another idiot a forgetful boater who'd abandoned his grp cruiser on Knostrop lock landing...  
It's quite a short and steep landing and I was tempted to crush and sink it  luckily the wind didn't blow me off course TOO badly  last minute and I squeezed in at an angle without incident.


Tony and Vicky hovvered in the breeze (I think the proper term is "heldwater?") until the lock was drained and opened... at times, fighting to avoid being blown over into the shallows.

btw - Tony is the beardy one and Vicky is the one with nice hair and bumps in her sweater... JUST to avoid confusion in future posts as I'm sure we'll pall up with them again soon.

ONCE through Knostrop, we were once again on the wide river and the chug up to Leeds was enjoyable... although we WERE waiting for the plants to blow off the roof - incidentally, in future they are NOT staying on whilst we're chugging as they really bloody get in the way make seeing around corners more difficult than necessary,


As there weren't too many folk around, when we arrive into  Granary Wharf, I opted to reverse in - it didn't go too badly either ... well right until the last moment when a bit of wind sent me clonking snuggling up to the Braidbar boat to our starboard...  The Australians on board, couldn't have cared less and were very friendly.  THAT made us feel a bit guilty later when the poor chap had to go in the canal in his pants to look for his (luckily waterproof) phone he'd dropped in.


IT still worked though so (if we'd have thought to note which model it was) we could have recommended it.

Leeds was quite busy and we went for a wander around - bumping into my old work mate Gavin's daughter first and not long after he and his ex-wife called by for a coffee and catch up... they're into cycling and were having a jaunt out.

By the time they'd gone, Tony and Vicky (and their 18 year old son) had returned to their boat and as happens, the people on the other boats also appeared for a bit of a chin wag - and now it being "wine o'clock" a few glasses were partaken... Andy maintains for him at least, it was medicinal...I just enjoyed it!

When it got a bit chilly, given I'd kept the fire going, we crammed in  cosy'd up inside our boat for a few more drinks and an evening of conviviality... with no fear of a none boaty person blocking up the macerater toilet... always a worry when "normal" people are on-board lol.

. . . . . . 

SUNDAY
. . . . . . . . 

We'd been enjoying the journey and socialising so much, we'd almost forgotten the purpose of the trip- which was for Andy to participate in the Sainsbury's contingent of the Pride march... 500 staff in all, forming part of the parade that was to start at 14.00hrs.

With that in mind, ahem we had a hearty breakfast in a local Weatherspoons - and I was actually embarrassed to have a pint with it... although as Andy did point out, it was Bud LIGHT so it didn't really count!

NOT a flattering pic but it's the only one I took so it'll have to do lol

The organisation for the rest of the day left a bit to be desired...  HAD I been doing it, we'd have all know where to be at what time etc...  instead, it was a bit "we need to get a t-shirt from Louise... then register somewhere... then meet up with the others - somewhere.... then meet up somewhere afterwards""  During this, I got a text message from Ross (the boaters who visited the other day) to say he was back in Leeds after bell ringing and had a couple of hours to kill if we could meet up... SO he came along to the boat and we then set off - STILL with no proper plan and a desire later on to meet up with some more friends.


I'm really not comfortable in large groups of people and whilst I accept many (clearly thousands) feel the need to blow whistles and shout about how marvellous diversity is, I'm more inclined to quietly appreciate how much the (civilised world) has moved on in the last 50 years to accept, tolerate and embrace the many different groups in society.  Andy and his colleague STILL had to find the others and get into position etc, so Ross and I peeled off to find  a quiet pub where they weren't charging 18 quid for 3 pints and a coke!

Once we'd had our beer, I escorted Ross back to the station to catch his train and I began trying to work out how to meet up with Andy and the gang once the march was finished...  We HAD agreed a venue but various roads were closed off (to pedestrians too) and everyone was funnelled to wherever the profiteers sponsors expected people to spend their money.  

SECURITY was a bit rubbish to be frank... LOTS of "searches" going on but NOT for anything other than people with their own alcohol... This was proven by the fact in my shorts pocket  (as is always) I was carrying a sharp stanley knife... to either cut ropes in an emergency or remove things wrapped around the prop.  This was totally ignored, whilst people had cans of beer or whatever confiscated.  

This did leave a sour thought in my mind - and judging by a group of "anti-pride" protesters I saw, I wasn't alone with this sentiment - They were protesting NOT against the diversity but AGAINST the money making/exploitation/profiteering of the whole event  which was so blatant.

On the plus side, a part from a few people shoving, pushing (and unwelcome stroking) in queues to buy a drink, it was all good humoured and everyone (well everyone who was really drunk) appeared to be having a good time... I was a fish out water and din't seem to feel the same vibe as everyone else.  I just felt old, fat and invisible and miserable like I should have had more to drink.

LUCKILY  our friend Richard called to see where  I was (he was marching with the labour party but I dont hold that against him)and as luck would have it, he and another couple of friends were about 20 yards away in a pub having a quiet pint... I had to fight my way "through" a group of idiots wearing doggy masks with collars and leads on - lets call them animal training enthusiasts, to get into the pub... luckily no one bit me and before long Carl, Gerry, Richard and I were in the beer garden enjoying a brief respite from the chaos.

It didn't last long as Andy called to say where they were and once we finished our drinks, we headed off to meet up.  Long story short, after yet MORE pointless (and ineffective searches) we found him and all headed back to the boat for a glass of wine - and in Carl and Gerry's case, their first look at the boat we'd spent 7 years saving up for and talking about   It was smashing to catch up with them as it'd been a few years since we last saw them at one of Richards post "Leeds 10K run" parties.  

Once they headed off, we had a quick bite to eat and walked Louise back to the station to catch her train home and we went back out into the awful party fun for a while.   About 9 - half past ish, I sent Vicky a message to see what they were up to and whether we could meet up - they'd just had a meal out and we agreed on a pub near the Wharf - no sooner did we get through the doors did the heavens open and an unbelievable storm began. ... I dread to think of the amount of glitter that would have been washing off the revellers bodies and into the streets!

A couple of pints later and time was called in preparation for an 8.00am sailing to ensure we could get back to the broken lock whilst it was operational.

Once back on our respective boats, the rain got even heavier - to the point of coming down the chimney (and with the fire NOT being on) building up on the throat plate and making a bit of a puddle by morning.

Tony and I must have had the same thought about 0730 and quite by chance were both heading to look at the river lever for the first part of the journey.

As you can see, it had just been in the RED but had fallen and was now back in amber...  with that in mind (and the fact we'd only be on it for about an hour) AND going downstream, we agreed to set off ... Vicky and Ollie (Olly?) working the lock meant we edged out into the flow ahead of them and set off quite speedily downstream on low revs. It was nice to see Ollie during the day as up until now, we thought he was nocturnal lol.

It got a little hairy on the right turn above the weir that's mid construction, as a crane  was hauling a digger above us and although there was a sign instructing us to beep our horn and wait to be told to proceed with caution - the river flow had other ideas so we made a dash for it to the safety of the lock landing.

Despite this, it was a lovely morning and we felt very lucky to be enjoying our day compared to all the business of folks heading off to work looking (in the main) very miserable.

We carried on with our journey and by about noon we'd passed through Lemonyroyd Lock and were back on the River Aire again...  still in the amber but still falling so we continued towards Castleford... WHERE it joins the river Calder...  what we didn't know, was that the Calder was in the red but as we turned upstream on to it,  THAT soon became apparent.... it was like driving a car with a flat tyre until we upped the revs - in our case not being helped by the fact we had the tumble drier going. Luckily, (actually not luckily as we planned it FOR this purpose) our engine is a bit bigger than most and heading upstream at 4mph we were able to maintain 1500 rpm - meaning there were still 1300 in reserve for emergency use.  

Keeping a look out or lumps of wood/trees or whatever we approached the lock landing at Woodnook a little after 1300 hrs - to find 2 boats already tied up on the landing.  We double breasted and wandered up to see what was what.


The river had been on red but was now falling - to all our relief's but it was good to be amongst folk in the same boat (no pun) and once up on the lock, it transpired there were loads of CRT people and divers on site trying to "once and for all" mend the lock.


Chatting with a CRT chap (the same one who'd let us down EARLY on Friday) he said he' been called out at 4am to close all the flood locks.. on his section of the Calder as the alarms had been triggered.... We'd assumed that as they're automated locks, they would shut themselves but apparently not.  WHEN asked about an estimated completion time he didn't know but was confident we'd not all spend the night on the river.  WORSE case, we could turn around, go back to Castleford and take shelter there over night.  Andy would have to get the train to work today and I'd bring the boat back up when instructed.

Whilst up at the lock, I noticed at the back of the 4 boats waiting upstream a boat that moors near us but on the  other side of the canal.  NOT usually having a chance to say hello to them, I wandered up to introduce myself properly - alas I was stopped in my tracks by this marvellous couple...EVERY boat should have one of these
They'd been up in Wakey for a weekend birthday bash and in his own words if he didn't finish the barrel it would just go to waste... he suggested I go get a couple of glasses and return for a free pint of blonde.  It would have been rude to refuse ... so I did and got Ollie to hold them, with the threat of getting him into trouble with his mum!

What was even more fortuitous, was that whilst standing chatting with the afore mentioned generous boater, I'd been sipping one of them which he then topped up before my return to Ellis.... I never did make it to say hello to our neighbours lol.

It was actually quite a nice way to spend a few hours, chatting with the other boaters up ahead and little before 1600hrs, we noticed boats in the lock and it was all systems go.



Another boat had turned up at the back of us, which we'd held on to whilst the lock emptied and all 5 boats shared the lock - the gin palace GRP sea going cruiser, opting to go at the back.  A very convivial gathering and as we waved goodbye to Tony, Vicky and Ollie at Foxholes, the remaining boats took in turns to operate the last few locks until we were all safely moored up at the Stanley ferry, with only 1 boat (the one with the sliding roof) heading on for a few more hours as they were aiming  for Huddersfield by the end of today.

All in all, a very friendly and entertaining, weekend with new and old friends.

TODAY of course it's pouring down... I HAD planned to do some painting in the rear lockers and front  benches  - Tony and Vicky were to do the same (painting that is) on their boat.

INSTEAD, I've spent 2 hours typing this (sorry) and had 3 cups of coffee.  I'll head out to get some Hammerite shortly in the optimistic anticipation of a dry day for painting tomorrow.

Until next time..

btw - No gingers were harmed in the writing of this blog 😎

6 comments:

  1. Naughty, Naughty. Bud Light does indeed count as a beer. It is light calories not light alcoholic content!!!

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    1. ahem... well we ARE on the wagon again this week... not so bothered about the booze but since I had my hand done, I've put on 1 stone!!!

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  2. Excellent weekend guys and excellent blog post. Thanks

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    1. Yeah we had fun and it's you're very easy to cruise with ... NOT being uptight about a bit of contact in locks. I was going to say I hope that continues when you've done your painting... but by the looks of the weather today, that could be a while off lol

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  3. The flood locks are not mechanised - we are now further up but held at Cooper Bridge for most of a day and then came through Anchor Pit (the uppermost flood gate) this morning,in the wake of a CRT work boat that had been stuck the wrong side of Cooper Bridge Flood Gates.

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    1. I hope you're ok today - it hammered it down all day and during the night it was even worse. We were very pleased we weren't tempted to add another day on in Leeds for a "touristy" look around or we'd have been trapped for a while I think.

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