When it’s forecast to be the hottest day of the year and you’ve got 35 locks to do, who ya gonna call… Lockbusters!
Well maybe not quite, but our son Jeremy had promised to drive up and help us but he did better and brought two friends with him. Max & Nicky have been live-aboard boaters since last October and had never been through a lock yet, well they are on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal where there are no locks, so we certainly put that right today.
We left our overnight mooring at about 8:15 (yes, a.m!) and pottered on down, through Shortwood Tunnel, to the Anglo Welsh Hire Base at Tardebigge Old Wharf, unfortunately there was nowhere to moor except their wharf so we had just pulled in there to ask if there was another mooring nearby, when our crew arrived. Jer had met the manager previously and he kindly allowed them to leave their car there.
After introductions we set off and went through the Tardebigge Tunnel, another first for Max & Nicky, on reaching the top lock another boat was just starting down so we helped them through and gave our recruits some basic lock training. Of course following another boat meant that every lock would be against us but bless them, as they left each lock they raised the top paddles for us so the lock was almost ready for us when we arrived (sorry I can’t recall the name of their boat, but many, many thanks to them). We were soon into a rhythm with one person ahead preparing the next lock and we only met one boat coming up the whole flight.
We were at the bottom lock by 1pm in just 3¼ hours, where we stopped for lunch just past the Queens Head, another canal-side pub which doesn’t encourage boaters to use their moorings. After being fortified with hotdogs which Joy had prepared on the way, Jer took my bike and went back to fetch the car, whilst we carried on, with our now proficient crew, down the Stoke Prior Locks and moored just above the bottom lock opposite the Black Prince Hire base where we found Jer chatting to the staff as he has an ex-Black Prince boat and was enquiring about replacing the front fender rubber.
After some cooling drinks in the nearby Navigation Inn we returned to the boat for a spaghetti bolognaise and a well earned rest before saying our goodbyes and arranging to meet again.