Friday, 3 April 2015

A mishap and a close shave

Hi There

Well, slowly but surely, I'm getting up to date with our meanderings.

The lift bridge into Gloucester Docks wouldn't be ready to open till 9 o'clock, after which the bridge operator come lock keeper would then let us out onto the River Severn so we could make our way back to Tewkesbury and onto the River Avon.

So, firstly 'The Mishap', or should I call it 'My Phones Dunking in Gloucester Docks' . . . . . . I'll just start off by setting the scene for you first.

There was a sanitary point right before the lift bridge, so we moved up from our previous nights mooring a few hundred yards back to empty the toilet cassettes (we've got three and as we don't move very far very often they are useful to have and we find that we don't have to travel in order to find a sanitary point, but can just sort ourselves out when we happen across them) get rid of the rubbish and top up with water. The water was the first thing in mind as we hadn't topped up for about nine days so it was going to take a while and we wanted to be filled up before the bridged opened, so I was in water filling tunnel vision mode as we moored up at the sanitary point. Nicky jumped off with the centre rope and secured that and I jumped off and secured the back rope. Now there is a bit of a clue here as to 'what happened next', anybody spotted it?

So remember, I'm in water filling tunnel vision mode here, which is probably an evolution based thing as apparently us blokes can't multitask although I always look at it as me doing one thing well whilst Nicky does multiple things badly. Take making a cuppa for example, (I know I digress, but bear with me) I set out to make us a cupper and enter my 'cuppa making tunnel vision' mode and stand poised waiting for the kettle to boil before springing into action and completing the primary task in hand. Nicky on the other hand puts the kettle on and then multitasks and so in setting a number of parallel universe alternatives in addition to the real world task of just concentrating on my cuppa.

So parallel universe alternate one is that the kettle boils, starts whistling, starts screeching and eventually I run to put the kettle out of its misery. End result - I end up doing my own cuppa.

So parallel universe alternate two is that Nicky's multitasking is close to hand, which is good news for the kettle, my ears and the water successfully makes it into the cup, BUT along comes multitasking mode elsewhere resulting in parallel universe alternate two splitting into alternate three and alternate four.

Alternate three being the cup sits there until completion of multitasking mode. End result - I end up with a cold cuppa.

Alternate four being that I take over. End result - I end up doing my own cuppa.

So hopefully this goes someway to explaining this multitasking phenomenon and more importantly, why it doesn't work and therefore demonstrating why men are clearly superior in having managed to evolve into the beings we are.

Anyway, digress over, remember I'm in my water filling tunnel vision mode and the boats alongside, I've got the hose out, opened up the water tank, fitted the hose to the water point, turned it on, let the water run through for twenty seconds, leant into the boat to put the hose into the tank and then moved back onto the pontoon, onto the pontoon, onto the pontoon, bloody hell . . . . . where's the pontoon . . . . . splash.

The clue above for anybody who didn't spot it and I'll repeat it for readers ease 'Nicky jumped off with the centre rope and secured that and I jumped off and secured the back rope' . . . . . yup, the front rope hadn't been secured so as I'd leant into the boat to put the hose in the tank the momentum had caused the front of the boat to drift (unbeknown to me) out from the side and hence nothing to stand on when I stepped back and therefore the resulting splash.

So I'm now floundering in the water and struggling to get back in into the boat, Nicky's inside somewhere, the waters dredged quite deep in the docks and canal here unlike normal canals that you could just stand up in, here you can't, but luckily we've been wearing our lifejackets, but of course you don't bother putting on a life jacket when you're only moving a few hundred yards do you so here I am in the water in floundering mode minus life jacket. Luckily Nicky then came out and with much screaming, concern and rushing to my rescue - NOT (would have done if it had been one of The Boys that had fallen in) she checked her makeup, flicked her hair, totted towards me with a look of 'are you meant to be in the water ' before finally grabbing a handful of my jeans and giving me a wedgie in the process of rescuing me and dragging me up onto the pontoon.

Now I know this has dragged on a bit and you may have forgotten by now, but what's this got to do with 'The Mishap aka My Phones Dunking in Gloucester Docks' , well simple really, the phone was in my pocket and still lives to tell the tale after being opened up and dried out.

The title of this blog was 'A mishap and a close shave' and don't be lulled into a false sense of security thinking that that's all over and done with, no, the close shave is yet to come. . . . . .

So moving swiftly on, I'm now dried and changed, everything is ship shape, I've got my life jacket on . . .  the lift bridge opens, we move through into the Docks, into and through the lock and we're onto the River Severn and heading for Tewkesbury. Not a very nice day though, very windy, pretty much head and side on all the way, the water level was quite high and close to its mark that would have closed the river to boating so we've got a strong flow to contend with, but we're on our way nonetheless.

Here's a picture (yippee I hear you say, a photo at last) of the trip up and whilst you can see the water is quite choppy, it doesn't probably do it justice as to how rough it really felt. We did the trip down from Tewkesbury to Gloucester in two and a half hours, this return journey took us four, although all things considered, pretty good I suppose.

So, the end is in sight, we've gone through the last lock on the River Severn and we're moored up on the landing stage at the Tewkesbury lock that'll take us onto the River Avon. The lock keepers at lunch so its cuppa time, can't remember whether I bit the bullet and did it myself though or risked Nicky's multitasking alternate universe mode, but I remember enjoying the end result.

Lock keepers back from lunch so we're ready for our final phase of today as we're just going to moor up directly outside of the lock once we've gone up and through. The landing stage isn't ideally situated for easy access into the lock as its at right angles to the entrance, add to that the flow of the River Avon is coming at you head on and will therefore be broadside onto you as you turn and aim for the lock and add to that the strong wind that's side on and making it difficult to get away from the pontoon yet alone get the back out so we can turn into the lock.

I thought the best plan of action would therefore be to go past the lock, give the engine a bit of wellie whilst hard over to try and bring the back out against the wind, that would result in the front coming round and the boat then being broadside to the flow of the River Avon and drifting sideways(ish) back towards the lock and then trying to judge when and how fast to go forward to get into the lock so I don't get there too early or even worse, miss it altogether and in the back of mind I'm thinking I'm a bloke who can't multitask!

Surprisingly, it went pretty much as planned and when the bow got into the lock I put the engine into neutral, a nudge of reverse to take some speed out of the momentum and then into forward again to get some steerage, only I'd lost forward. I had reverse, I had forward and reverse in neutral, but forward definitely wasn't playing ball. Anyway, I'm far enough in the lock for it not to be a problem and the lock keeper just pulls us in the rest of the way and then we both pull it out once we've gone up the lock and moor up as planned.

Now I just need to get my tools out, get into the engine bay, work out what's wrong and fix it. Alternatively, I could just call River Canal Rescue and then have a cuppa, well that sounds like a much better idea. Have to say, I think River Canal Rescue offer an excellent service for a very reasonable price and within two and a half hours (and the guy who came out was an hour away to start with) all was fixed.

So as to the 'close shave', well the problem was that the screws holding the gear/throttle leaver in place had vibrated loose over several years and when I'd put the engine into neutral whilst going into the lock, it had decided to pop out that bit further so that I couldn't re-ingage forward. Had I been in forward and couldn't get into neutral then I'd have had a good bash (sorry for the pun) at breaking the lock keepers gate and probably worse, what if it had happened anytime in the previous four hours whilst heading up the River Servern as this would certainly been an anchors away blog title.

Now whilst I suggested at the outset that this post would bring you up to date, well its taken so long to do this one that your not much further forward with our travels and the River Avon post is going to have to wait a while longer as yes you've guessed it, I'm in desperate need of a cuppa. So Nicky, get in that kitchen, or on second thoughts, I'll do it myself.

And so in signing off, 

Day 787 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 1542 miles, 771 locks and 795 cruising hours further on from when we started.


  1. I’m lost for words Keith! Should you really be out and about!!

    1. Hi Carol, well it all adds to the memories and helps sex up the blog a bit.

  2. Keith, you will know you are in trouble when you are in the water and Nicky throws you the anchor and tells you to hold on tight!
    And the fixing of the hair, well that's obvious, you have to make sure you look good in case someone is recording the event and you might be famous later on YouTube or even the National News! ��

    1. Thanks for the anchor heads up Roy, I'll bear that one in mind. And as for possible YouTube notoriety, I'd prefer You've Been Framed as they pay £250 although I suppose that would be to the benefit of the takee not the splashee.