Thursday 15 June 2023

Devizes Wharf

Today's Canal - Kennet and Avon

The last blog post brought us to Sunday, 11 days ago. That evening we decamped back home, only a few minutes by car from the mooring by Horton Bridge. We had some medical appointments in the diary for Tuesday and Wednesday and at that stage we expected to move back to the boat on the Wednesday afternoon. Then the Tuesday appointment had to be moved to Wednesday afternoon.

We had further dates on Tuesday the following week, but with the slight delay it started to seem a bit much to go down through Devizes only to come back by bus just for a day. On top of that we started to move into heatwave territory when our rate of progress is generally somewhat limited!

The next problem came on Sunday last when news of a closure at Caen Hill came in. A boat inflicted serious damage to a top gate at the bottom of the Rennie flight. CaRT engineers visited the site on Monday morning and a Stoppage Notice was updated to say that they were mobilising necessary resources and work would start on 19th - no timescale was quoted.

So we debated: should we cut our losses and turn around here - we did not want to end up trapped on the canal all winter! But that idea was also undermined by an update to the stoppage at Heathy Close Lock in Wootton Rivers, the other end of the Long Pound. When we came through the signs indicated that its problem (another boater incident) would be fixed in a stoppage last week. However, that showed that much more work was needed and was now expected to finish 21st at the earliest. So, we were now trapped on the Long Pound! (A delightful excuse for continuous moorers!)

Overnight we started (but not finished) to make plans for what to do whilst the locks were being repaired. And then thee next day, just as we were to go out for lunch with a friend from Wadebridge, yet another stoppage notice update arrived to say that CaRT had found alternative resource and the gate had been fixed. We have yet to find out what exactly happened but it sounds as if they had brought in the bodgers to replace the engineers!

It was by then too late to prepare to leave on Wednesday as quite a bit of food shopping was needed. We did, however, manage to move the boat closer to Horton Bridge and then deliver to the boat most of the remaining food, clothes and other stuff. We left anything to do with the freezer until today.

So, now back on track with the blog. We made a reasonably prompt start but first had to call at Lidl for more fresh milk and bread. We loaded all onto the boat quite speedily and then Christine took the car back home, followed by a short walk to Lay Wood Bridge.

Meanwhile, Mike unmoored and trundled slowly down to meet her. The section of the canal either side of that bridge has extensive reed growth restricting the navigable width so it would have been difficult if the boat arrived before the pedestrian. Another oncoming boat did then arrive and we soon discovered the extra time it takes to pass in such conditions. The bank itself is generally not visible from the canal.

A while back (cannot remember exactly when) we had to change gas bottles and since then have not passed a place supplying them. We checked out that Devizes Marina did stock them - as we pulled in, someone was already carrying the bottle down to meet us! Took longer than it should have done to extract the old bottle as the special spanner, which was kept on a string to prevent it being lost deep in the locker, had gone Awol after the two parts of the string decided on a divorce. Our trusty litter picker came to the rescue.

Our immediate needs also included water - the tap at Devizes Wharf has been out of action for a while and does not even feature on the stoppage list. The argument by CaRT is that all the facilities are available just six locks down alongside the cafe at the top of the Rennie Flight. So, even though it was a tad awkward mooring to two boats already  breasted up, we filled up. Whilst the tank was filling, Mike began to re-stow the gas locker (the bottles have to be restrained by a chain). All was going well and almost the last item to put back was a can of spare gunnel paint we have had unused for several years. (OK, we now realised that it is not a good idea to store paint next to inflammable gas bottles!) Alas, just as the can was hoisted back into the locker, a split opened in its side and a torrent of black paint rained down 'everywhere'. Over an hour later sufficient order was restored that we could move on.

It was now very late for lunch - at least the very hot weather meant that we were more thirsty than hungry - and the next possible mooring stop was the visitor mooring opposite Devizes Wharf. At least there was p
lenty of room - slightly surprising as this is a popular stop year round.

It took at least three seconds to agree that we no longer needed to go down to the service point today, we will do that tomorrow and wait for the main flight until the 10 o'clock opening time on Saturday. (Mutiny was averted)

Unless further updates arrive . . . 

Mike walked into town for a few items, including a replacement litter picker, which we use to retrieve items lost in deep lockers) which expired, fortunately just after Mike had repossessed the gas bottle spanner,

Later, Christine found this photo on Facebook - yes, it really is Alchemy! Fame (if not fortune) at last.

3.0 Miles - 0 Locks

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