Woke up this morning to the dawn chorus. The smoke detector by the bedroom door started chirping. Have you ever tried changing the battery in a smoke detector in the half light, without your glasses on and only half awake. Once that was sorted the Rooks chimed in, then a boat went by and this was all followed by the trains tooting.
So the day began, it was fine when we set off at 1030 am. Timing was critical to ensure the bread was baked before we reached Harecastle Tunnel. We had a good run up the locks as far as the CRT offices at Bulls Bridge which is a single lock that was against us, so were both the next locks. At Plants Lock the boat we were following went into the offside lock, so Diana drew the near side one, unfortunately there was a boat moored, facing me in the lock mouth. It seems he had broken down and a mechanic was trying to fix it, he had to pull forward a bit to let me into the lock. By the time we had locked up the other boat locking up was about to leave, so I asked if they were going through the tunnel. He said they were going up the Mac but he was going to go towards the tunnel to moor and go shopping, he asked if there was a winding hole by the tunnel and I told him no, but he carried on saying there was one on his map.
We followed him up and he tried to moor at Smithson's long term mooring before moving on. As we approached the tunnel it was very congested and a boat was just coming out so we waited until it had passed before going under the railway bridge.
The chap who had come to moor and shop had to reverse back to the junction which he did just before the forth boat exited the tunnel and after a forth boat joined the mellay to go south.He is not the blue one but the one under the railway bridge. I hope he doesen’t burn his bowthruster out getting back.
The back boat was first into the tunnel followed by Duke and Duchess, then us and finally the last boat to arrive. It was 20 minuets from when we arrived at the tunnel mouth, after waiting for the first boat out to clear the rail bridge that we started entering the tunnel for an uneventful trip to the South Portal.
Exiting the tunnel it was raining steadily and within minutes it was chucking it down, Duke and Duchess pulled over and waved my by, I thought they were being friendly but looking back they set to buttying up, so I guess there were having dinner while it chucked it down. I think we were at Middleport before the rain stopped and the sun came back out. A short way south of the tunnel is a new canoe access point, this one seems to have a hard pad on the bank plus a sign.
At Etruria Junction we swung left up the Caldon Canal. A boat coming up the Stoke locks had turned in in front of us, but he stopped at the services so we passed him.
A boat was just leaving the top of the locks so we didn't need to fill the top chamber, just empty the bottom before entering, once in the lock there was an impressive waterfall from the top of the intermediate gates. The lock was much easier to work than it has been in the past so CRT achieved something during the last stoppage. It will be interesting to see what happens to Bridge No2 with the broken cast sections. maybe they will replace them with plate.
The boat ahead was well gone by the time we reached Planet Lock. At festival Gardens there is another canoe access point, well there is a sign which is the only difference to any other part of the bank. Do you get the feeling I don't think these signs are money well spent?
We carried on mooring for the night a short way below Engine Lock where I paid our first visit of the trip to the weed hatch, I picked up something earlier but it had virtually disintegrated by the time we moored up at 5pm. just some cloth round the shaft.