Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Back to the Weaver, External Wifi Antenna and a bit of a moan.

Since our guest left, we developed another "gap" in the schedule due to another overseas booking not being able to come - the whole year so far being a total right off.   TRYING not to be too down about it, we took the opportunity again to head BACK down on to the weaver ... this time for a full week (which you don't really need normally but given the restricted lock operational hours AND lift operating times, you couldn't really go down for less and be able to sail it's full length.

Heading back to Anderton, the weather was glorious and before long we were sitting in the caissons of the lift waiting to go down.  Ahem, "Ellis's" curse struck once more and the lift decided to play up - ergo, we spent a while waiting until the computer would let it work.  Thinking back to the old days, traffic was circa 70 boats a day with 1 bloke operating it in the hut at the top ... progress however requires a team of 4, an engineer on call AND a computer to manage about 18 boats a day!

Make of that what you will. 

No matter, we were sharing the lift with a lovely old couple who'd been up and down it more times than I've had hot dinners (and from my currently "fat" status, that's a fair old number) which distracted us all... along with their tales of how many HOURS they'd spent over the years "stuck" in it lol.

This was the Friday - the locks down on the river not opening until the "short windows" on Saturday morning... during which we got ourselves in position to head up stream to Winsford through Hunts and Vale locks.

As was to be expected, we were not the first boats in the queue for Hunts lock - there were 3 ahead of us so we had to wait until the 2nd locking ... no big deal as the lockie on duty promised to get us all up - being acutely aware of how frustrated boaters are at the current set up... THIS being cause by CRT not bringing back all the seasonal s and using covid as an excuse to do so ... to the detriment of boaters wishing to use the navigation.   

When our turn arrived, we shared the lock with 2 other boats and once ascended, the lockie (who was now running late for his next 'locking' (up at Vale locks) suggested if we could manage full speed to the next locks that would help him out - so we did.  I have to admit, it did take the edge of the experience as racing to the next lock (with the exception of that manic dash from Skipton to Wigan in June) is a bit alien to me.

On arrival at Vale locks, we'd beaten the lockie so tied up best we could to fit the other boats in - eventually pulling right in behind the gates so the other 2 could at least breast up and have a bollard.

Once through the lock, we were able to meander our way up stream - there now being no rush.

The other boats raced off ahead (literally) - something which sadly we became too familiar with on the Weaver on this occasion... folks perhaps knowing mooring spaces were limited and wanting to be "first place"... hey ho.  The weather was beginning to deteriorate a bit so by the time we got to the Red Lion Pub at lunch time, we tied up on their (badly designed and boat scratching/window poking) pontoon and went in for COKE and LEMONADE! - yes you read that right...  we have been trying alternate drinking days again... I'm NOT keen but it DOES save a few calories and might help with the belly.

Once the weather had cleared a little, we chugged on to the mooring at the end of the navigation - well, technically BEYOND the end of the navigation at the approaches to Winsford Flash.

It's actually (from a boating perspective) a really pretty end (or beginning I suppose) to the navigable Weaver - the flash ahead of you looking SO temping but ALSO being SOOOO shallow... not worth the risk of doing donuts despite the temptation.

It's really quite nice in the basin - but BOY it's shallow... a fair few places we couldn't get in but thankfully, a boat shuffled along and made some space... despite the chap in front of him (moored on the water point which actually IS a mooring unfortunately) stating he couldn't move back as it was too shallow.  

On this trip we did seem to encounter a few (repeat offenders) of the "entitled boater variety"...  Something that really irked on Sunday morning when I cast off and headed back towards Vale locks in readiness for he first locking of the day - the locks didn't open until after 10 and I slipped quietly away about 8 am ... a lovely gentle chug down stream.. the early morning sunshine making for a glorious steady journey.

about an hour into it, along comes Mr "I'm going to over take you whilst we pass under a shallow bridge then slow right down in front of you to ensure I get the only mooring on the lock landing"...

That's not cricket - given his aging years, perhaps he felt it was his right to have first dibs.  Now frankly that got up my nose cause when faced with a decrepit boater, I am always first to offer help.  I was brought up to put myself out for the benefit of others... it really put me in a sad mood if I'm honest - and when  pulled alongside thinking "oh well I'll breast up" the child in me kicked in and I decided rather than put myself close enough to tell the chap how rude I thought he'd been, I wedged 'Ellis' in the lock mouth instead. It's just not worth picking an argument about trivial things.  

When the lockie arrived, we all went in and went down  the lock - me alongside the old git I'd taken against my new best friend... lol.

Heading back down stream - this time at a more relaxed pace, I was able to have a proper look around...  there are some really interesting boats along  there.

Alas, by the time we'd made it to Hunts lock, we were no longer the only boats going down - in fact there soon became a queue of 8 of us - trying to fit in to space for 3.  

A few breasted up along side the folks FIRST in the queue which then meant a bit of a shuffle for them to come out and into the lock when the time came...

A breezy day din't bode well for the remaining 5 of us all trying to hold water and hover in the stream...  all very friendly with one another but frustrated at crt for the locking restrictions.

We were on the 2nd locking down and the lock keeper was clearly frazzled - him NOT being supposed to lock us down but make us wait 2 and a half hours until the next locking window - to allow him time to go back up stream to the former locks and operate them.  Poor chap - he used his common sense and was VERY considerate to boaters... unlike the management team!  He saw us all through and we were very grateful - the others zooming off down stream towards Saltesford locks whilst we decided to call it a day and tie up.  There is no fun in zooming about fighting for space despite what them in charge seem to think is a good idea!

A perfect opportunity for me to fit the external wifi antenna I'd ordered on ebay.

I've been using a little Huwaiewa (spelling?) mifi point my friend gave me years ago for wifi on board but in weaker signal areas, it often struggled to get a signal - what with the boat acting like a Faraday cage... the solution often as simple as dangling it from a porthole - not ideal but effective.  

Anyway - this little external Ariel came from China (not sure how I feel about that at the moment but I'll let it slide) ... it works really well but was a bit of a bugger to fit.  In the end, I decided to utilise an existing hole through the roof for the tv ariel coax and fit it in the main cabin - that entailed wiring in a new usb socket to power it (inside the crew long term storage wardrobe) but it's all done now and working well...  the proof of the pudding will be the Llangollen canal I suppose but so far, we've had green lights in more places than amber or red.

Until next time...

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