Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Summer Autumn Cruise 2011 (4-3)

Wednesday September 14th
Castle Quay Manchester to Dale Street Basin
Day 24

A boat passed us during the night (3am) with no navigation lights or headlights. The boat was heading towards the Leeds Liverpool canal. I only know this because the dogs insisted in going outside as something was bothering them. It turned out to be someone doing a patrol round the quays.

I was up later than normal about 8:30 and we have decided to do a lazy start. The weather is quite overcast with frequent light showers. First job was to clear the weed hatch from a build up of plastic bags on the propeller, grease the gland and then to move to the water point and fill up the tank.

Manchester city centre is not a place that you would expect wildlife other than a few ducks. However, there are large numbers of ducks and geese as well as a good few swans. Everywhere the footpaths are covered in their green and white droppings. This is effective cover for the few dog owners walking the patch who seem to just let their dogs crap anywhere.

We spotted a pair of Mink swimming around in the water. After a while they pulled themselves out onto one of the old canal warehouses that has now been converted into offices. We watched them for quite a while, one of them disappeared up a pipe and the other spent some time scent marking on a waterside platform.

Off to face the Rochdale nine by 10:00. Water was pouring over the top gates all the way up. It was difficult to get a level in some locks and we had to resort to giving the gates a gentle push with the bow button. We stopped for lunch after the first five and then set about finishing the climb.

We were at Dale Street Basin by 4pm and decided to call it a day as we cannot go any further than lock 84 without booking passage with British Waterways. We are meeting the lock keeper at lock 83 at 8:30 in the morning. There are good secure visitor moorings with pontoons at Dale Street Basin.

Beware of “care in the community” types as they try to lend (whether needed or not) assistance at the more difficult locks 84, 85 and 86 and then ask for money for a bottle of beer! There are a lot of people sleeping rough at this point but the pontoon moorings are more difficult for them to enter. The dogs also seem to be quite a good deterrent.

We encountered a hire boat making their way towards the bottom of the Rochdale nine and intending to go into the main basin. We had to show them at lock 84 how to pull open a lock gate with water spilling over the top using the boats bow line. I suggested that they stop for the night as there is no secure moorings and that there was only two hours of daylight left. They decided to go for it. Brave or foolhardy I don't know but there were nine people on board.

Yesterday we passed the wonderful and hallowed turf that is the Manchester United football ground. Tonight we are moored up in the shadow of Manchester Cities ground, where I believe they grow potatoes. To night Manchester United play Benfica and we will be watching the EUAF match on ITV at 21:30. (Draw 1-1) Manchester City are playing a team of aged an ancient Italian ice cream sellers. (Draw 1-1)

Nothing detected in the way of bats but we are trapped on moorings with no access to the towpath to explore outside of the basin.

Daily Total
Distance: 1 Mile.
Locks: 9
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 1
Pump Outs: 0
Engine Hours: 1882.8

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