Whilst we were up the Llangollen we had a small structural failure. In addition to bow and stern lines, narrowboats have a mid-lines, these are attached to an eye in the middle of the roof of the boat and are trailed along the roof to the stern, one on each side of the boat. As you come alongside to wait for a lock or moor up it’s easy to grab it and hop off, it’s helpful in pulling the boat alongside - being long and thin usually either the bow or the stern drift away from the bank whilst manoeuvring. A mid-line comes in handy to prevent the boat from surging in a lock, especially if there are two boats in a wide lock.
The eye on Ali’s roof has always looked a little questionable and this week it gave up the ghost. The problem is there is nowhere else to secure a line to. Some boats have grab rails along each edge of the roof, but not Ali. J came up with a creative bridle arrangement using small ropes and the fender attachment shackles on either side. So far it’s working ok provided we are very gentle with the arrangement.
It would be a fairly simple thing to fix properly if only we could find a welder. First find your welder… We had a lead on a live-aboard welder, Ian, on a boat called Linnet, we should have been passing his home mooring on our way to visit NB Willow. We kept a sharp look out in the area where he is usually moored - no Linnet, he’d evidently gone floatabout. He was still absent on our return journey. However as we were half way down the four Hurlesden locks we passed a beautiful boat coming up - yup, it was Linnet! Too late for that option. I called several boat yards and marinas further along our route, but they none of them keep welders on staff but call in independent guys as needed. I started calling them, most seem to be called Danny (one revelling in the surname Shakeshaft - possibly not a recommendation?!) Most of them don’t seem to answer their phones (perhaps that’s an Easter weekend special). Eddie from Stoke on Trent could have met us in Middlewich, except that day he was due to be running his coffee boat in Northwich! We couldn’t afford to stay put as we have to reach Tarleton on Sun for the Ribble trip on Monday (weather permitting).
Today I tracked down one by the name of Giddy, who most probably would have been perfect - except he had just returned from Egypt and was stacked up with a backlog of work!
We’re back to the showery weather after a couple of dry ones, we started out dry and as things deteriorated J geared up in full waterproofs and I left him to it during the showers (no point in getting two sets of gear wet) but I find it tedious down below whilst travelling (you can’t see the view from a seated position - and there is a limit on the amount of washing up that can be done). I resorted to an outbreak of Good Boat Keeping, sweeping the decks and cleaning the head, it doesn’t take long in such a tiny space.
We are getting close to our destination Tarleton now, and I’ve booked us into a marina for a night or two prior to crossing the Ribble - we urgently need a washer/dryer and to fill up with fuel and water before we cross.
England has been in the grips of some widespread high winds for the last two days. We were bouncing around at our moorings the last two nights, almost felt like being at sea! We were moored to pins hammered into the bank and we added an extra one for good measure and woke in the same place in the morning. I’ve put all my tall plants into the well deck for protection from the wind.
By sheer good fortune we arrived near Colin and Carole’s Wool boat exactly on time to go to Knit and Natter in the pub this afternoon. I met Colin last year and purchased yarn but was too shy to go to the group!
We have overshot our turning for the Rufford arm deliberately to make this rendezvous but we have time in hand, tomorrow we will go a little further in the wrong direction in order to turn around. No point trying that today as the wind would prevent us from swinging the stern.