Monday, 26 August 2013

Back the way we came

Monday 26th August 2013
It's Bank Holiday Monday, and all the idiots seem to be out.
After turning around, we headed back towards Guildford. Arriving at Millmead Lock, Cath started to fill it ready for our entry. Not long after that another boat came along and moored behind us. Having sat for a while, the woman on the front rope asked if we were going down alone.. Strange question! Nobody else about, they looked like they wanted to go down, so I said "not any more". "We'll join you then" she said, but didn't appear to do anything except hold the boat. "Well", I said, "Cath could do with some help with the lock". "Oh, I'll send one of the kids up" she said.
Young, light kid = not a lot of use, but she tried.
Once in the lock, and that seemed to take them an age to maneuver their huge 35 ft. of narrowboat, they roped it up like it was the QEII.
We had planned to stop at Dapdune wharf, just the other side of the town to get water and throw a can and rubbish, so I very sillily told him to go ahead of us out of the lock because we were stopping at the wharf. Mistake! It wasn't too far to the wharf, luckily, because they were so slow that I had to keep taking Lyra out of gear to stop us running into the back of them all the way along to the wharf.
After doing the necessary we were soon on our way again. At Stoke Lock we were joined by a very small, open boat with a tiny outboard motor. I have not seen such a comedy act in a long time. Two middle aged blokes and a woman. She got in the boat, and they pulled it into the lock using the ropes.
By this time I was a bit anxious about having them in a lock with us. Anyway I got off and held our rope to keep us away from them as the lock was emptying. When the gates opened I had to wait while they got out of the lock first (for those who don't know, for safety, the fragile craft should always leave first. Once again there is a pantomime. For some reason the woman can't or won't drive the boat, so the men have to pull it out with the ropes, they were obviously not happy to climb down the ladder, get in the boat and drive it out. This was hilarious, because there is a bridge over the tail of the lock, and they couldn't get the rope under it, what a giggle.
All this left us, of course, behind them, but we soon caught up and thankfully, they waved us through.
Soon though, we caught up with the ones we had shared the first lock with. This is despite the fact that we had stopped for the services, and waited to take on water.
We both arrived at the next lock, Bowers Lock, together, and found that someone was just entering the bottom. Cath took the handle and walked up to help. The boat in the lock had about 5 people on board. One woman and a child got off. With the bottom gates shut, Cath, and the girl from our paired boat started to lift the paddles, gently, because they are fierce. the woman from the boat started shouting she didn't want them up, even that little bit. Cath had to walk away before she said something rude!
The woman continued to give instructions to the girl who remained,"just a bit, that's enough, just a bit more" and so on. Not once did she actually do anything. She finally sent the kid that came with their boat to lift the paddle that Cath had abandoned.
By this time the tiny outboard had arrived, and we all squeezed into the lock together. The other narrowboat told us to go first as we were obviously much faster than them, which was a relief.
Next was Triggs Lock. someone was already rising in it as we got there. Two narrowboats, once again these were trickle filling the lock, it must have taken them about 15 minutes to fill it. No-one had caught us up by the time we went in and descended.
Next came Papercourt Lock, it was in our favour so we floated in and as Cath started shutting one of the gates a chap arrived from a boat wanting to come up. He shut the other top gate, but couldn't help with the paddles because he hadn't brought a windlass handle with him ?????. Oh well, it is Bank Holiday Monday! Having finally dropped in the lock, Cath lowered the paddle on one gate and was crossing the bridge to get the other when one of the blokes from the other boat open that side gate. Now this presents Cath with a problem. She can't climb because of her dodgy knees, so she asked the guy to close it again. He got very antsy about it, but finally acceded. There were now 4 blokes from the boat up on the lock, and still they didn't have a handle between them!
They were all out today, and I think we got them all.
We've now moored up in a lovely spot by a meadow.

 Approaching Guildford from the south

More of the lovely water meadow

Strange looking craft, I wonder how it drives

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