This morning was quite warm but it kept trying to rain, thankfully it failed. We were just retracing our steps to Chester. I knew there was a steam boat moored along here so wanted to get some photos of it, what I didn’t realise was that a Kingfisher was sat on the tiller and I got a photo of it without trying.
But the best was yet to come, the Kingfisher flew on for a few boats, then dived to catch a fish before returning to the tiller of another boat to eat it. Due to the sequence of events I still had the camera in my hand and it was still switched on.
Another unusual sight was two CRT lengths men walking towards each other noting defects as they went, lets hope any defects they spot get recorded. The were wearing what looked a very useful garment that was also a life jacket something like this.click picture for details
We stopped in the lower basin at Chester beside the dry dock to fill with water, in the new building on the other side of the canal there are now showers and toilets. We pulled onto the 48 hr moorings just passed here to eat lunch before tackling the locks.
The Northgate staircase held a few surprises for us. The first was the bottom lock was draining as we approached, Diana went up and reported two boats were just entering the top chamber and there was a Volocky on duty, he was the second surprise, we thought they had finished for the winter. The third surprise was that he had suggested a shuffle in the middle chamber and the other two boats were happy with it. The final surprise came as I saw the bow of the second boat above the lock gates ahead of me, It was Martin on Halsall who sells coal, diesel and lots of other useful items around the system.
When the top pound is dropped into the middle chamber quite a bit of water comes over the top of the gates.
When two boats are coming down and one going up you have to shuffle in the middle chamber. This means one of the boat travelling down comes into the lower chamber beside the boat going up, the other boat in the middle chamber moves to the other side, the boat going up enters the middle chamber beside the second one waiting to come down, while the boat that just entered the lower chamber moves sideways behind the boat going up, so that the second boat can leave the middle chamber and move into the lower one. The gates are then shut and while the lower chamber is emptied and the boats going down can leave the middle chamber is filled so that the boat going up can move to the top chamber. Now you can see why I was surprised when the Volocky suggested it, try explaining that to two boats who a have only been out for a week and don’t have a clue what you are trying to do. This not only saves time but also water.
Once clear of the locks we carried on for about quarter of a mile to moor at King Charles Tower Gardens, we are hoping this may be a bit quieter than the next moorings up where we stopped on the way down.
After mooring up we walked the other direction round the town walls passing the River Dee and the weir with a gate in it which is supposed to allow boats to travel from the Shropshire Union canal down 3 locks to the tidal Dee and at high tide through the gate in the crest of the weir to carry on up the none tidal Dee. I don’t know the last time it was used but a friend of mine took a boat through there in 2004. Its a pity it is not maintained better as it is the only one in England so unique.
6 miles, 3 locks in 3¼ hours