In a previous life I used to have a weekly horse riding lessons.  Every Saturday morning I would drag myself out of bed and be at the stables at 8.oo am to saddle the horse and be ready for an 8.30 am lesson.   It didn’t matter if it was torrential rain, snow, or 40c+ heat – there was a core group of us who would turn up for our lesson.   Often the statement was made “You must be mad to ride in this weather” to which the reply was a variation of “No, not mad.  Dedicated.”  The inner voice was usual screaming (“or nuts!”)   The enthusiasm may also have a had a lot to do with social side of things after riding.

Yesterday was a dedicated boating day.  Initially.

We’ve made changes to our plans and are heading up the Leeds and Liverpool canal now to Leeds.   We were to cross the Ribble Link, (it’s tidal) but it is closed for 7 days and there wasn’t 7 days worth of entertainment to be had while waiting for it to reopen.   Following all advice we stayed at the bottom of the Wigan Flight ready to do it in one go in the morning.  We had just started moving and it started raining.  And raining.  And raining.   By the time we had done 4 locks my jeans were so wet the rain was just running into my water proof shoes.  As it turns out I’m not such a dedicated boater.  We stopped at the first & as it turns out only place to stop – until the rain passed.  Lunch, a latte and a changes of trousers later – off we went.   We should have stayed where we were.   We went through 1 lock to see a shallow pound.   (That’s the bit between the locks).  I made it half way through and ran aground.  Howie went and opened a few locks above us to see if that helped.  Not so much.  I ended up calling the Canal & River Trust for assistance.   And called.  And called again.  Fortunately for the girl at CRT the guy turned up as I was making my fourth call.   An hour we’d been stuck for.  Eventually we got moving again the CRT helper stayed for a few locks and decided that all was good and left us.

4 locks from the top – same thing.   By this time it was getting close to 5.00 pm.   A new set of helpers this time.

At the end of the day it took 10 hours to do a flight of 21 locks that probably should only have taken 4 hours.   But wait there’s more.   As we pulled around the corner from the very last lock and tried to moor on very shallow ground -the engine started to idle roughly.  And then not idle roughly, or at all, or start.  Puffs of white and blue smoke. So pins were stuck in the ground, and we moored up as we were – hanging the back end out into the canal – not a problem as it’s still very wide.   And I’m not even going to discuss dinner at the pub – it’s wasn’t worth talking about.

Called the River & Canal Rescue (the boating equivalent of the RACV/AA) service this morning – as we weren’t going anywhere and a guy finally turned up at 2.oo pm.  Luckily for us it was just a complete change of fuel filters and all was fixed.  Yay.   Because I had visions of piston rings broken and other expensive engine breakdown options.  The main fuel filter (we have 3) was 1/3 full of water – not good, but not as bad as it could be.  Anyway – suddenly we have a quiet boat.   The stars being aligned we should be off again tomorrow, I should imagine it will be raining again.  And breathe.

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