Thursday, 22 September 2011

Summer Autumn Cruise 2011 (5-4)

Thursday September 22nd

Blackpit Lock to Elland Lock
Day 32

Up bright and early first job was to turn the boat round so that the pump out pipe would reach. Just as we finished our friends (Jan and John) on Nb Kingfisher arrived to fill up with water. The weather was a bit on the cool side but it did not look like it would rain.

Later we shared a few locks with Nb Kingfisher. By lunchtime we were at the very deep Tuel Lock and we had to wait for two hours for the duty lock keeper to arrive. Due to the odd number in the queue we ended up paired with Nb Norfolk. We continued together until we arrived at Shire Boats where we took on 52 litres of diesel at a split of 50/50 as we are using more for domestic than we are for propulsion. We also purchased for £12 a hard wood lock spike.

Whilst we were in the Shire Cruisers chandlers shop the Memsahib spotted an orchid that was being neglected. She talked the staff into letting her take ownership of the plant. She also had the cheek to commandeer the pot it was in. This is not the first time we have done this and we are becoming experts in resurrecting forgotten plants. We have a window sill full of rescued orchids at home, so it will be kept in good company.

After we left Shire Cruisers Marina at Sowerby Bridge we started the next part of our journey but this time along the Calder and Hebble Canal. The importance of the Calder and Hebble as a through route makes one  feature of the canal very significant it has short locks. The canal is a "wide" navigation, meaning that its locks are wide enough for 14-foot wide-beamed boats, but its shortest locks are amongst the shortest on the connected network inland waterways.

The shortest locks on the upper Calder and Hebble force boats longer than about 57 ft to lie diagonally in the locks. This is only possible for narrowboats, so 57 ft is the maximum length for a wide-beamed barge on the Calder and Hebble. Even for a narrowboat of less than 7-foot beam the maximum possible length is about 60 ft which is 12 ft shorter than a full-length English narrowboat. Narrowboats approaching 60 ft can only be squeezed through the shorter locks, even when lying diagonally and by expedients such as removing fenders and going down locks backwards.

As we cruised along we came across a couple of BW workers with brush cutters clearing the tow path sides. A short distance behind them was a man with a motorised air blower. Who instead of blowing the debris into the hedgerow where it would break down over time. He was busy texting on his mobile phone and blowing everything on the tow path into the cut. I was going to have a word with him. But under his hard hat and inside his ear defenders he was so preoccupied with texting on the phone that he did not notice us pass him by.

Another quirk of the Calder and Hebble locks is the handspike, a length of 2-by-4-inch timber shaped at one end to provide a comfortable two-handed grip. Calder and Hebble boaters have to carry these in addition to the more usual windlass, in order to lever open the simple lock gear which lifts the lock paddles to allow a lock to fill.

We had a small detour up the Halifax Arm just above the Salterhebble Lock. However, due to the strength of the stink from the local sewage farm we soon headed for the clean fresh air again by returning back to Salterhebble Lock where we met up with Nb Buttercup crewed by Paul and Shirley we paired down the locks together until mooring for the night just above Elland Lock.

The local pub did not do food on a Thursday, so we had a walk into Elland with the dogs and called into an Indian takeaway. Chicken Biriani and Mushroom Curry with a couple of Chipati's made a nice change.

We detected several Common Pipistrelle bats around the boat.

Daily Total
Distance: 9.5 Miles.
Locks: 10
Swing / Lift Bridges: 0
Tunnels: 2
Pump Outs: 1
Engine Hours: 1925.4

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