Sunday 6 October 2019

Where were those thunderstorms?

Tuesday 1st October; Stoke Pound to below the Astwood locks
After yesterday’s rain we were relieved to see the weather had improved, although waterproofs were still needed for an hour or so.  As we were preparing to leave, the hire boat at the far end of the moorings beat us to it, so we were in no hurry, as we had plenty of time to get moored up before the promised thunderstorms this afternoon.  But with the drizzle it was some time before I took any photos, so here is our overnight stop from 2015 - in somewhat better weather.

It was wet underfoot and damp in the air, but warm enough to change into cut-offs and a short-sleeved t-shirt, at least for a while.  We made slow but steady progress down Stoke locks.  At one of the locks we could see we were being video’d (how do you spell that?)  and the gentleman was paying close attention to what we were doing with the gates and paddles.  It was an American family group, who had a very different experience of boating to us – they had just spent a few months in the Bahamas on their trawler (converted, I assume, as one of the group was rather elderly).  The lady asked about living aboard a narrowboat, and commented that they did their washing in a five-gallon bucket – she did concede that they had better drying weather than us, and I bet there was a lot less mud too!  Anyway, there was a sad ending to the story, as their boat was lost in hurricane Dorian in early September. 

We stopped in the bottom lock to offload a cassette and the rubbish – the facilities here are set a long way back, next to Black Prince, and we certaily did not want to bring the cassette all the way up and over the bridge from the moorings below the lock - no-one in their right mind would carry a loaded cassette across a lock gate!  But with no other boats moving we could sit in the lock while we dealt with it, otherwise one of us would have had to take the boat down the lock and the other empty the cassette and then walk over the lock and down the towpath to catch up.

Fresh supplies were running a bit low, so we planned a stop at Stoke Works.  There is a lot of new housing along the way, which you can see in the photo below.

The figure in the foreground had just caught a good-sized fish, which he had landed carefully and unhooked speedily before easing it into his bag to weigh it.

About 10lb Dave guessed, and that’s what the man shouted to the workers having a break at the factory opposite.  He speedily returned it to the water.

The sun came out as we moored up at bridge 42.  We had to pick our spot carefully, as you do once autumn weather hits.

I strode off for the half-mile to the convenience store in Ryefield Road.  The butcher next door, which had looked on its last legs a couple of years ago, has changed ownership and is now called The Butcheress.  The butcheress herself wasn't there, but a very nice young Irishman served me.  I bought a couple of their ‘hotty’ sausages (local pork) to add to a bean casserole - they turned out to be very hot!  But I was glad I’d taken my waterproof, as I had to walk back in the rain.  I blame Dave – I left him finishing the gangplank painting!  That will need rubbing down and re-doing, though he did finish most of it yesterday.

We had lunch and then got going again pretty smartly.  Although we had bright sunshine, dark clouds were gathering and the forecast is frightful.  We were soon down Astwood locks, with the thunder rumbling as we reached the last but one.  Dave saw an impressive bolt of lightning strike something low in the distance.  We moored on the pleasant stretch below the bottom lock at about 2.30, as the thunder rolled, and closed up, expecting an imminent downpour.  A CRT workboat pushing a pan came by, well wrapped up against rain and wind.

Threatening skies
It wasn't listing quite that badly - I was leaning out of the side hatch, that's my excuse
We learned later they would have been on their way to prepare for some dredging.  But in spite of strong gusts of wind and lowering skies, we had not a drop of rain, though clearly other areas were getting a drenching.  Dave took the chance we would stay dry to unscrew the mushrooms and check the sealant.  Now all we need is some heavy rain to check they are watertight, which they weren't, quite ….

2 miles, 12 locks

No comments:

Post a Comment