April 8

Steppin’ Out; A day out and some locking experience.


Hi to everyone hope you’re enjoying the recent sweltering temperatures? It is nice though now we have a few degrees more warmth. Last week a friend of mine, Richard who is off cruising for the summer, offered me a trip out to do a few locks as he was moving up from Shardlow to Willington to visit friends before he set off properly. I was only too happy to take him up on his offer.

I arrived in Shardlow about 10 am and after a cup of coffee we set off for the first lock. I’d wrapped up well, two t shirts, scarf, sweatshirt, coat, gloves and hat. I’m fairly short and round anyway so with this much clothing on I looked like a ruddy Weeble. If you don’t remember them they were a toy with a round bottom and the cathphrase was, Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down. I don’t care what I looked like as in the sunshine it was fairly pleasant but when the sun hid behind a fluffy cloud the temperature seemed to drop about 4 degrees and it was bl**dy cold. I hate to think how cold it must have been when taking into account the wind chill factor of screeming up the canal at nearly 3 miles an hour.

I was given my first windlass and hopped ashore and opened the gates and we paired up with another boat and a lovely chap named Graham. He had just picked his boat up on the Monday and was heading back to Watford to live on it. He hadn’t done any boating before this week  so he was doing what I hope to be doing soon sailing my own boat back home with little experience. It’s just easier to learn and understand when you physically do something rather than just reading or watching clips on YouTube. Ground paddles first when filling up then gate paddles when level has risen up. It was surprising how easy some gates were to open or close and how stiff others were. The other problem which I hadn’t really expected was after you close one gate and walk round to the other the first one had swung open. OK you all know about this but I didn’t and found it quite amusing. At least I know now to open the ground paddles a little to get a little water flow to keep the gate closed especially if I’m on my own. With 3 of us it wasn’t a problem. A couple of the locks were quite deep and they would give me a little concern if I was on my own but I guess you just get used to them after a while. Oh and how slow the locks fill up if you leave the paddles up on the bottom gate. As Richard said drop the paddles as soon as you’ve done then you don’t forget.

A bit of steering practise and the locking and I’m feeling much better about my maiden voyage. It was a lovely day and just standing and watching the clouds, the countryside and the ducks was wonderful. I’m ready and waiting to sample this life style as soon as I can. I know there will be some down sides to things. No I don’t think down side is the right phrase. There will be some different challenges to meet and get used to. Sewage, filling water tank, collecting gas and coal. These are things that have just happened before and pretty soon they are things I shall have to think about and do. We kept checking the mile posts as we went and another cup of coffee and just kept plodding on and I loved it. It took us about 6 hours to do about 9 miles, well there was nothing spoiling, and after mooring up when we reached Willington I rang and got a taxi back to Shardlow to pick up the car and go home. I was pretty tired, 6 hours of very fresh air, standing all the time and doing a few locks, I shall be fitter in a few months I think which just shows how unfit I am now.

This is going to be a long week waiting for the survey to take place and hoping nothing is found that would stop me buying. Then another week to go and pick her up and start cruising. When you ask God for patience what he does is give you the opportunity to practise patience. This is one of those opportunities and I shall wait patiently. In fact I’m waiting as fast as I can.

Enjoy the sunshine.

God bless you.


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  1. Have you recovered yet Nige? Just wait ’till you come across a leaky lock gate so the lock doesn’t fill properly no matter how long you wait (even with the paddles down at the far end). It’s great exercise and just a pleasure to be out in the open getting nowhere at all very quickly.

    I’m looking forward to your next post.


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