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Archive for November 12th, 2015

Boat Blog: The Odyssey 2015 – Day 35: Part 2

Posted by indigodream on 12 November, 2015

Rewind to Tuesday 6th September

Manchester Ship Canal: Eastham Lock – to the River Weaver

Waiting above Eastham Lock - there was plenty to look at, once the fog cleared!

Waiting above Eastham Lock – there was plenty to look at, once the fog cleared!

I finished the last post with Indigo Dream lounging above Eastham Lock waiting for clearance to travel up the Manchester Ship Canal. Control were very reluctant to let us go, even though we had booked our passage, passed the survey, had a pilot on board, cruised the ship canal before and paid the fees!!!

With an enforced stop of an hour or more, what were we to do? It was a bit early to open the beers so it must be bacon sarnie time (veggie option also available!). But once that was done we started to fret – passage from Liverpool to Weston Marsh relies on a series of carefully timed arrangements. The delay at Eastham put us at risk of being late for CRT, who operate Weston Marsh Lock on 48 hours notice – we really needed to move.

We started to harass MSC control, who eventually agreed to let us move once the fog lifted a bit and super-yacht Lady Sandals had come off the Mersey – she’d be allowed onto the MSC before us. We rang CRT to re-arrange our locking time at Weston Marsh – luckily they were very obliging.

By the time Lady Sandals had locked onto the MSC, the fog had disappeared and the sky was a brilliant blue.

Lady Sandals is a sleek vessel...

Lady Sandals is a sleek vessel…

We set off in good spirits. Lady Sandals had tentatively asked whether there was a speed limit on the MSC – I don’t recall control’s answer, but Lady Sandals set off gently till she got out of sight of the lock and then blipped her throttles. Indigo Dream tried her very best to keep up, but the super-yacht was soon a dot in the distance πŸ™‚

The trip from Eastham to Ellesmere Port was new to us, and, in perfect conditions, it was a revelation. The canal feels very much like a river here, very much like the River Severn in fact, wide and lush. Once I knew that everyone had sufficient sustenance I did a rare thing – I sat on the front deck and watched the world go by. I’m normally on the helm, but we had crew to spare – what a luxury!

We soon reached Ellesmere Port, where we spotted some photographers on shore. They got in touch later with a link to an album of photos that they’d taken – thanks guys. The link to their photos is here.

I stayed on the front, where I was joined by Doug then Archie – a girl couldn’t ask for better company πŸ™‚

How about a short stay mooring pontoon on the central reservation on the left? A place for the hounds t have a wee break and for visitors to take photos of the Mersey and appreciate the relationship between these two great waterways...

How about a short stay mooring pontoon on the central reservation on the left? A place for the hounds to have a wee break and for visitors to take photos of the Mersey and appreciate the relationship between these two great waterways…

As we cruised the tranquil canal under a crystal blue sky, I kept having flashbacks to our turbulent passage back in 2009, when the squalls were gusting to force four/five (absolutely fine in between) and I was on the helm so that I could use Richard and old friend Ken as movable ballast to maintain our trim in the wind. Back then, Weston lock wasn’t ready for us and we have vivid memories of desperately tying to bolts on the moth-eaten timbers outside the lock and watching waves wash the side of the boat up to window level.

But today couldn’t have been more different – the canal has a fascinating charm with a strange mix of huge industry, flocking birds and grazing sheep on the thin strip of land that separates the canal from the mighty Mersey.

As we turned at Weston Point, the lock was open and ready for us and our passage was smooth. In addition to the extra-long mooring ropes that you need for these locks, we’d added rubber rings to weigh the end of the ropes and make them easier to throw. This worked well, though in hindsight we could have anticipated that using rubber dog chew toys would results in Herbie having a good munch before they ever got near the ropes!

We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect passage of the MSC and our only regret was that we couldn’t carry on right up to Manchester. The main barrier to our cruise was the fact that there is absolutely no stopping on the MSC and if they are serious about wanting to attract more leisure boats onto the canal then this is something that they need to remedy. We only needed a 30 minute lay-by somewhere for the dogs to have a break, but that simply wasn’t possible. Of course, the River Weaver is one of our favourite waterways, so it wasn’t such a hardship to turn off the MSC….

Photoblog:

We took a lot of photos – the light was just perfect and the MSC is full of interest. I’ve put my favourites here but the full album is available on this link.

Bye then! That's one race we can't win :-)

Bye then! That’s one race we can’t win πŸ™‚

 

Our gallant crew - they deserve a big thanks for keeping us companye despite the early start and the unseen perils of the fog-bound river :-)

Our gallant crew – they deserve a big thanks for keeping us company despite the early start and the unseen perils of the fog-bound river πŸ™‚

 

The unexpected face of the ship canal...

The unexpected face of the ship canal…

 

But you're never far from reminders of the MSC's industrial purpose..

But you’re never far from reminders of the MSC’s industrial purpose..

 

The entrance to Ellesmere Port - but we're moving on today...

The entrance to Ellesmere Port – but we’re moving on today…

 

Transformer! Richard does a lot of work on housings for these beasts...

Transformer! Richard does a lot of work on buildings and bases for these beasts. Is that one of Rawcliffe’s trailers behind?

 

I love a bit of living industery - when I was n school I was a proper geek and really enjyed the factory/refinery tours organised by the "young sceientists club" - I wonder if there's an equivalent for adults??

I love a bit of living industry – when I was in school I was a proper geek and really enjoyed the factory/refinery tours organised by the “young scientists club” – I wonder if there’s an equivalent for adults??

 

Fascinating when moored up, more terrifying if they'd been bearing down on us in the channel :-)

Fascinating when moored up, more terrifying if they’d been bearing down on us in the channel πŸ™‚

 

We met "Buffalo" on our last trip on the MSC :-)

We met “Buffalo” on our last trip on the MSC πŸ™‚

 

You can't beat a happy helm :-)

You can’t beat a happy helm πŸ™‚

 

Lock gates - wonder where they're bound...

Lock gates – wonder where they’re bound…

 

Flocking birds - the ship canal has something to suit everyone

Flocking birds – the ship canal has something to suit everyone

 

There's work to be done before narrowboats can fuel up here!

There’s work to be done before narrowboats can fuel up here!

 

The huge factory and sudden widening that marks the junction between the MSC and the Weaver

The huge factory and sudden widening that marks the junction between the MSC and the Weaver

 

The MSC guidance makes a point of warning small craft to avoid the giant sluices on the left, but we're turning off way before we get there...

The MSC guidance makes a point of warning small craft to avoid the giant sluices on the left, but we’re turning off way before we get there…

Weston Marsh Lock - all ready for us...

Weston Marsh Lock – all ready for us…

So we didn't need to tie up here...

So we didn’t need to tie up here… PS This is the “good” side.

 

 

 

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