After the unexploded grenade incident the rest of the journey back home was fairly uneventful, taking a mere ten days, ninety locks and three tunnels. However on the first day I did have a bit of a rude awakening caused by me not paying enough attention to signs and markers.
I was aware that we had a lot of rain, I was aware that there was a weir to avoid coming up soon and I had seen one sign that warned of it saying procedure with caution.
What I had not seen were any flood boards that indicated how high the canal and river was running.
Thus when I saw the weir on the left as the navigation took a sharp right I just carried on as normal ensuring I was keeping well to the right.
“What a macho looking weir”, I thought. “Why not take a picture?”, I thought.
“Funny how a view finder gives an odd sense of movement, almost like one is crabbing along”, I thought.
I put the camera down, it still looked as though I was crabbing across the canal/river. In fact I was not making much headway against the current at all, having been caught almost broadside to it.
I throttled up, I steered right, I throttled some more, and slowly I made headway and was really glad to take the sharp left off the river back into the canal. I was met by a chap who told me that the boat in front of me had to be towed off the weir that morning. Pay attention Steve!
A couple of days later the alternator belt went. It only took 15 minutes to replace but I was so glad it had not broken on that short stretch of the Trent.
Well that was the trip this summer.
I went down to the boat as summer drew to a close. It was time to decide what jobs needed doing before the winter. There was painting to do, oil change, frost prevention, rust treatment, etc etc.
When you have spent some 27 days on board mainly by oneself there is plenty of time to observe, listen and consider.
I’d seen so much wildlife and industrial age hardware, listened to the birds and chatted to the occasional person at locks, I’d had time away from the rat race for plenty of quiet reflection.
I had also experienced the effects of yet another dry winter resulting in low water levels.
There were the very many extra boats on the canal system with very large marinas being built for leisure boats and again the resulting reduction in water availability due to more “lock movements”.There are many poor quality boats that are the homes to boaters. I have seen one tiny nearly totally covered by a two man tent that serves as the only shelter.
I had listened to the moans of a few boaters about the canals and its management. Being of slightly nervous disposition I had listened to every slight variation in engine noise during the day and creaks, bubbles and splashes at night. I had also listened to the news. News of B***it, news of the weather, news of Brazilian forest fires and later on the news of the devastation caused in the Bahamas by hurricane Dorian
And I had thought a lot.
I thought about the 160 litres of diesel which I had used on the trip that had released about 422kg of carbon dioxide. One calculation suggests 7 tonnes of CO2 is equivalent to one mature tree. Of course one can plant lots of trees in a year, but they won’t take up that amount of CO2 for many years. Meanwhile we keep releasing it.
I thought about the 240 tonnes or so of water I let through each broad lock I negotiated. I will let you work out how much that was for this journey.
I thought about the places I did not see because I was moving the boat, the folk I did not talk to whilst I was on it.
I also kept thinking of the mantra, “Live simply so that others may simply live”.
I thought about my granddaughters, growing up in a world in environmental crisis, possibly asking “What did you do in the war against this crisis, Granddad?”
Suddenly I knew the boat had to go. And it has gone.
It has been sold, it went where it was needed, it went with my blessing, and I hope whether or not it was God’s will, the outcome for the boat and me will be woven into His plan. If I write again it will not be centred on my boat.
So it’s GB all round. Good Bye Gentle Breeze, Good Bless all,