Moving (for a “single-hander”) at this time of year – most of the English year, in fact – is a case of hopping about between windy spells. Yesterday morning dawned dull, overflowing with dullth in fact, but avec no le wind. I decided that since the dictats of TWMBO (Canal and River Trust – They Who Must be Obeyed) suggested a maximummy of 48 hours on our moorings that we, the Cardinal and moi, would shuffle on a little.
Notable Bennie – These dictats are licence Ts and Cs, not real law, so are law-by-blackmail in effect – you can’t cruise National publicly-owned waterways without a licence, you can’t get a licence without complying with these non-lawful restrictions imposed by an un-elected, unaccountable body. It’s a bit like the local estate heavies telling you that you can walk on “their” patch to and fro the SPAR shop, but only if you pay them protection money… and H.M. Police telling you that it’s just the local gang’s Ts and Cs and that you have a “choice” of some kind in that you need not walk on “their” patch.
So, the breeze being favourable by not existing, I untied our strings and began to move. The next available mooring looked dreary in extremis, and was overlooked by the upper windows of a row of soul-free ticky-tacky houses, presumably occupied by soul-fre ticky-tacky people. They just didn’t feel “right”, so I decided to mooch on some more. Once out of Nantwich you are somewhat constrained by the strange design and build of the canal itself, there being in most places the “Shropshire Shelf” – a ledge jutting out under water from the sides, meaning that mooring is either impossible or requires floating wheels to be used as fenders to keep the boat’s distance. We mooched on, we got committed and the next moorings were at a place called Hack Green, no big deal, just a couple of miles on (or about forty minutes cruise at my canal speed), and a couple of locks hence.
Mistake – I had prepared for only a minor mooch, not a minor cruise. Coat not within reach. Windlass still in locker. Stove flue chimney still in place.
It must be said that part of the reason for mooching on was to get away from some drunken or drugged-up OAPs who had cruised in the evening before. This boatload of elderly hoorays, up to their nipples in entitlement and, for all I know, TCP™ and Deep Heat™, took delight in cruising the length of the moorings entirely on the wrong side of the canal, at unsuitable velocity and giving each moored boat no more than three or four inches clearance. Given that narrowboats (especially), indeed most boats, steer from the rear like the love-child of a fork-lift truck and that supermarket trolley with the wonky wheel… this is a problem in the awaiting, let alone a vast show of disrespect for the property of others.
When confronted by a row of pi*ssed off moored boaters their reply was “well, we didn’t actually hit you so what’s the problem?” Foolhardy numpties, they then proceeded to moor up a couple of boats back from the Cardinal, whereupon they were the recipients of a smidge more opprobrium and not some little censure. I didn’t need to do a thing, the boat immediately behind the Cardinal was a faux-tug “Brasso-palace” (as in uber-shiny), and they were, quite rightly, quite vocal enough for all of us. I just stood and watched…
Possibly this Hooray-OAP incident weighed disproportionately in my decision that the available moorings were “not nice”, and contributed to my ill-considered decision to “mooch on, mooch on”.
Well, once committed to two or three more miles of cruising, the heavens opened and half a gale blew up. With no chance to even duck inside for a coat we crabbed, we dodged and we most certainly did not want to end up grounded on the Shroppie Shelf. I got soaked, I got somewhat less than comfortably warm… and it served me a-right for not preparing properly!
There was one bridge where I might have wedged the Cardinal while I nipped down below for a coat and guess what? We had a boat up our Arsenal Villa, so that put paid to that option.
It was actually quite fun, and the two locks at Hack Green are nice, tame locks no more than six or seven feet deep – meaning that I can ignore the slip-slidery lock ladders and just step off the Cardinal’s roof to work the lock. I moored us up just above the locks, on yet more “visitor” moorings with the dodgy, ill-thought-out time restriction, and they are pleasant enough. The wind and rain, as you would expect, stopped the moment I got through the second lock…
Today the solar panels are feeding, and I am doing sweet naff all. I’ll move on again when next the wind looks as though it is resting, and hope that it makes fun of someone else instead of me, somewhere else.
One of the reasons why I express this mild disparagement of the “Licence Agreement” imposition of time restrictions on moorings is that the Canal and River Trust, CaRT, never obey their own rules. Tis one rule for “us” and no rules at all for them. There is, as there is in most places, a CaRT work pontoon/barge/boat/wotsit moored – “moored” – slap bang in the middle of these restricted “visitor” moorings. Doubtless it has been there a while and will be so for a while still. The longest “do as we say, not as we do” CaRT mooring that I have personally seen is TWO YEARS on restricted “48-hour” “visitor” moorings, at Calveley (and they’re still moored there to this day).
You can’t expect diners to use the escargot forks provided, CaRT, if you insist on slurping the soup course and throwing quail bones over your shoulder yourself.
Abide by your own rules and you may then find that other folk begin to respect them a little more…
So, this morning, instead of being rained on, frozen solid and blown at all while wearing a no-coat (my own daft fault) I am enjoying the sunshine, watching the boats pootle past and quaffing toast and sipping chicory coffee.
I really ought to be moving again, but yesterday was quite enough for the mo. I claim today as a day of other activities.
What is in store for our next move, I wonder. Snow? It can only be a matter of time.