Initially the canal improved nicely... indeed, after about 20 mins chugging, we came across some lovely canal side property.
In fact, by the time we got to Droylsden, we even commented we might stop over there for a night on our trip back up later in the year.
I'm afraid it was literally down hill from there on in. Faulty paddles, broken locks (as in handcuff keys) and shallow pounds... not to mention a host of unsavory looking types on the towpath ... and no, I'm not talking about Andy!
ACTUALLY, I did most of the locking as it happens - you see, when it comes to tolerating
It was particularly slow going as most of the locks were empty with the bottom gates both open - AND that meant trying to balance them shut before beginning to fill them... in the end, I adopted the approach of cracking a paddle slightly open to let some water flowing down THEN closing the gates - it was the only way on my own to do it - getting the boat into the side being almost impossible...
OUR biggest problem came with lock 11 - one of the bottom paddles was "stuck" half open... and only 1 of the top paddles was working... ergo, we had to really lower the level of the pound, create a "Spanish Windlass" AND use the boat to pull the gate open... it took an age. I phoned CRT to report it.. they said they'd call me back! - still waiting. Btw - whilst mentioning CRT ... I'm not one to bash them... far from it, they have a difficult task given the funding available but what really gets on my nerves is the blooming follow survey texts you get every-time you report something... TRYING to get you to feedback about how good your experience with them was... you see, the thing is, when answering, you DONT know IF they've actually DONE anything about the call - so the only thing you CAN give feed back on is the person who you spoke to - whether they have actually passed the info on to a works team or not, is anyone's guess.
ANYWAY - after about an hour of faffing about, we finally got the gate open and through.... but not before we had to run some water into the pound to get the boat floating again...
For the entire canal, we'd glided under each bridge in neutral to minimise the risk of fouling the prop on a trolley. PLENTY of underwater clonks but luckily nothing on the prop - well, nothing worse than a few carrier bags.
"Prop Clearing" btw, STILL remains a dark blue job for some reason???? grrrr....
Weather wise, it was actually a really lovely day to be chugging and as we descended into Manchester, folk appeared a bit more jolly... including us, despite how tired we were.
By now though it was getting on for half 3 and we were
I must say, that WAS a good decision - It's gated access so we couldn't both go out together (and be sure of getting back in) but it DID feel safe ... AND the residents seemed friendly enough - well except one woman who came and told us NOT to feed a goose some bread. Her interference was especially unwelcome as what she didn't know was that we'd spent about an hour trying to help this wretched thing with a broken wing, out of the water to escape a couple of bullying geese. Eventually, once fed (and after I'd managed to lift it out of the water using a combination of scaffold plank,Vulcan death grips and close calls) it toddled off - hopefully away from the other hostile ones.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Yesterday Morning (Thursday 21st) after a leisurely breakfast of Banana pancakes, we pulled ropes and set off towards the infamous Rochdale 9.
If I'm honest, the experience underwhelmed us... it's just NOT a nice way to come into Manchester...
the top lock of the 9 starts off looking innocuous enough - but there is a lot of water coming over the gate so it takes a long time to equalize... once through it, you have to hang around ages again whilst the next lock fills... it's just not nice - signs suggesting that sexual or lewd behavior will be prosecuted... HOW anyone could maintain an erection under those conditions is beyond me anyway!
Still, it wasn't long before we were on Canal Street -
and it was here we spent quite a while with another broken paddle at lock 86 -... the gear cog didn't engage with the uppy/downing bar thing. Another phone call to CRT made - followed by another "survey"...
Eventually, with the use of brute force (and a lump hammer) the lock filled and paddle "let back down" we were on our way again.