Windlass wielders at Bosley

Friday 13th April: Bosley to Bollington, 10 miles, 12 locks, 2 swing bridges

Prompt at 0930 Cleddau’s extra crew arrived. Techno Son-in-law and Techno’s Dad had pre-positioned two cars and walked the mile down the flight to find us at the bottom. A cup of coffee and then the work could start. While drinking the coffee some unexpected words were noticed: stuck on a bollard at the bottom of the flight was the Lake Powell Utah – Arizona sticker.  Some people travel far to enjoy the Macc!

Windlasses were issued and the bottom lock (12) emptied. It was to be a slow crawl, following another boat up, later meeting two Heritage hire boats coming down. Cleddau’s descent just two weeks ago had been accomplished in 1 hour 29 minutes; the climb today took 2 hours. There were no further sightings of the little wood mouse seen last night, but while waiting to move from lock 5 to 4 there was a whirlpool of disturbance as a carp (or some other below water shark) twice reared up to gulp air or insects… Crew headgear is a good indicator of weather conditions: the Captain and Boatwif remained hatless (what a change), and while one windlass wielder took off a woolly hat, the other put on a sun hat. Yes – the sun shone from locks 10 to two! But as the water equalised in the topmost lock the showers returned.

Cleddau cruised on, destination the Gurnett Aqueduct at Sutton, where someone’s car had been parked. There were moored boats to look at, fertilised fields to sniff at, two swing- bridges to negotiate, canoeists to avoid and the lightweight roses and castles adorned motorbike to marvel at. Techno Son-in-law and Techno’s Dad took helm duties to steer us smoothly to Sutton, where lunch was had and the golf balls proffered as payment  to Techno’s Dad!

There was just one mishap today. Conscious both of British Waterways becoming the Canal and River Trust and of the increasing reliance on volunteer labour Boatwif prepared to do her duty. As the canal wends past Astra-Zeneca there are three pinch points where once swing bridges crossed the water. In high summer brambles and hard thorny branches intrude across the canal, scratching splayed out hands and any precious paintwork. First squeeze point:  from the bow, equipped with gloves and secateurs, Boatwif leaned out to snip any stray twigs. But the bow deck curves in from the boat side, so any offending growth could not be reached. Second squeeze point: Boatwif shuffled back in the well deck to be closer to the growth. Success – one twig sheared. Then the blades went floppy, and in her attempts to adjust them Boatwif allowed them to slip through her fingers, down into the murky shallows below… Third squeeze point: by now it was raining again so the cratch was re-zipped and Boatwif, disappointed in failing in her duty, retreated inside! The only other sign of human life in this area was the umbrella- carrying lady…

We cruised on past Kerridge (in the sunshine) and on past Bollington, waved at by folk on the nearly new footbridge, then addressed by a Wellington-booted lady (“I’m walking the dog before it rains again). Just half a mile beyond Clarence Mill Cleddau was pulled in and now, sealed up against the rain, even the sound of the quarrelsome pair of Canada geese on the opposite bank is muffled…

Just three miles left to do tomorrow to home moorings.

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