We headed for the boat hoping to take it out for a couple of hours to charge the batteries and heat the water, but as we headed north the winds grew stronger and stronger.
Icy winds sliced across the marina as we unloaded and the almost naked trees bent under the assault.
The Captain built up the fire and declared we were staying put that night.
The next morning looked promising with sunshine and light winds. I had a craft fair to go, but as I didn’t have to leave before 3.00 we had plenty of time to cruise to Rugeley and back.
Autumn is a tricky time to take the boat out. Some boats sweep through leaf filled canals but our boat soon gets a clogged prop. In spite of this we set out cheerfully. Within minutes we hit a thick slick of leaves - the boat became sluggish. The Captain threw the boat into reverse to clear the leaves from around the prop but it didn’t work. The boat drifted to the side of the canal and I leapt out to hold the rope expecting The Captain to open the weed hatch and plunge his arm into the freezing water in order to scoop the decaying leaves out.
He didn’t. Instead he tried to walk the boat forward beyond the thick debris to where the water was completely clear. We grounded on the bottom.
A narrow boat appeared behind us and chugged past. I expected the Captain to ask them to tow us into clear water but he just waved and said we were fine. After waiting for the leaves to drop away from the prop shaft he asked me to drive while he pulled from the bank. It didn’t work.
A puzzled walker asked “Do you know what to do?”
The Captain sighed. “I’ll have to go down the weed hatch,” he replied.
Reluctantly he opened the weed hatch and plunged his arm into the muddy depths. He shook his head and reached for his knife. Finally the culprit emerged, not just decaying leaves but a bundle of plastic bags knotted together so that they formed a big ball. I dread to think how much rubbish the fish have to cope with.
After sawing again the Captain produced another tangle of plastic. After that surgery the prop turned better but still got clogged with leaves several times.
“We won’t make it back in time unless we wind here,” he said as we reached the first winding hole at Handsacre.
He winded the boat and tied up, the only boat on this popular mooring.
After a cup of tea we set off back trying to miss the leaves but the prop kept clogging up. he wasn’t happy as we turned into the marina, we’d been out three hours but the batteries had only had two hours charge.
He spun the boat round to reverse into his berth, but the gusting wind sent him towards moored boats. Customers at the diesel point watched as he turned the boat to try again.
He allowed for the wind to push the boat sideways as he reversed. It didn’t so he missed the berth again.
The third time he managed to get the rear between the pontoon and our neighbouring boat. The watchers from the service pontoon seemed disappointed that the afternoon’s entertainment was over.
After lunch the Captain busied himself with the fire as I set off for a school with my books and art. Hopefully he will be in a better mood by the time I return.