Netherwich Basin, Droitwich to Droitwich Spa Marina: 1.4 miles, 5 locks
           A lesson in geometry was needed this morning to work out how to leave the short pontoon and to bear left towards Droitwich: all simple except for a gusting 18mph wind and a long hire boat whose stern was a couple of feet from Cleddau’s bow..

          The stern was let go and it began its planned drift to the right. Slowly it began to pivot around its centre rope, the Captain took an age to undo the mid-rope, then jumped on the side, scrambled to the stern, whereupon Boatwif shot to the bow to warn of distance from the unforgiving wall on the opposite bank.  Sighs of relief, from the boat crew – and from the other boat spectators.

           Into Vines Park: how attractive it all is, beautifully kept, but there are swing bridges.  No cars piled up impatiently while the bridges were inaccessible,

just queues of buggy-pushing mums!
            Then there is a river, the River Salwarpe – luckily the depth gauge still in the green, the safe to navigate zone.  This canal keeps the boater on full alert: next comes a low bridge, as a practice if you like for the Big One. The Big One?  It’s the tunnel under the M5,

its height (or lack of) can skim stuff off a boat’s roof. All was well, the highest aerial touched and bent – no damage sustained.

(Not so for a boater met later – but here’s why).
             Just beyond the M5 tunnel comes a lock, and then beyond that a staircase of two locks. Picture the scene: a boat already in the M5 tunnel meets an additional lock full (or three locks full) of water. The water level rises swiftly, as does the boat… and in that boater’s case substantial damage was sustained yesterday to his cratch. For Cleddau today all was well, the next lock was operated – and then came a delay…
             In the upper staircase lock five C&RT were gazing into the engine hole of a workboat.

These locks were newly built during the canal restoration: you can tell by the concrete walls and modern coping stones. Nearby was an information post, a question on the front, the  answer on the rear.

 An hour was spent on Cleddau’s bow deck with a cup of tea – and then the life-jacketed blue jerseyed work force hauled it from the stern back to the lock landing.

             Up the staircase two locks, round the corner – and into Cleddau’s “holiday home”, eight nights at the very new Droitwich Spa Marina.

Tonight the Cleddaucrew are aground, at the home of Relief Captain and First Mate – and tomorrow there’ll be chance to inspect nb Tentarice(now just weeks from completion) before driving in a borrowed car back to Beds for a few days of admin, garden taming and a family event.
                (Ooh – and road trips: Cal Son spent his decade change day yesterday on a road trip to LA with Cal Guy Snr , to see the space shuttle Endeavour, now on public display).


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