Victor wonders how long it will last

Published: Saturday, 06 July 2019

WHAT is he on about now, I hear you asking—the cill on Wheaton Aston Lock.

2WheatonAstomIt  is well and truly buggered! Attempting to fill the lock, the level just would not come up enough to allow one person to open the gate to let the boat in, then two finally managed it with some effort.

We of course had made sure the front paddles were firmly closed, but to no avail, and it was whilst at the front of the lock it was noticed that water was gushing out, obviously faster than the top paddle would let it in.

Further investigation showed that the excess water was coming up from the cill, as the photograph shows, and without doubt the cill is about to give up the ghost and the Shroppie well and truly closed, as there is no way it will make it to the end of the season. Only pleased we managed to get through before it expired.

Some do some don't

Before we arrived at the lock we had spent the night moored on the piling by the balustraded Bridge 10, a favourite of ours and particularly our dog of the time.

2RustyPathWe are all aware that many boaters have dogs on their boats, but it worries me noticing that many believe a two minutes walk along the towpath and back is enough exercise, that certainly is not, even for a small breed.

Up on the bridge is a track stretching many miles that we always exercise both the dog and ourselves! This time Rusty discovered a smaller and more winding woodland path on the left of the main track to Chillington Hall that was ideal—as no possible cyclists, that he hates. Eventually turning back there was even another of the same on the other side of the main track.

Try it, and give your dog(s) a treat. You can get both a television and internet signal at the mooring if that takes your fancy.

2LongLineGoing on for ever

One thing we must all be aware of about the Shroppie, especially its Eastern end, is its seemingly never ending lines of moored boats, but since we were last here four years ago it has become worse, with boats moored all over the place

It seems static mooring, and not cruising is the thing on the Shroppie, as we have been at our present moorings for five hours in the afternoon with only five boats passing in that time!  Mind you, if the other locks are in a similar state to Wheaton Aston, is there any wonder?

One thing for sure, it could well do with a couple of decent size marinas down here,and I wondered why there were not in that splurge by the then British Waterways, until I realised that many of the very long moorings were operated by British Waterways, and now of course, CaRT, so somehow or other I can't see any marinas any time soon.

3WinflessNoFitThey haven't a clue

No few times have I mentioned that the contractors attending to our waterways just haven't a clue what it is all about, ascertained by being told by one when they were first brought in by CaRT to replace the 'in-house' workers that had been doing it since the canals were built, that the week before he had been building houses!

This lack of understanding was well demonstrated by the new gates fitted on the Tyrley Flight, starting with the top lock. The paddle controlling assembly had been attached to the lock beam so low that there was not enough space for a windlass! There was no space to turn the popular lightweight Dunton windlass as seen on the picture, and none of our varied collection would fit!

3CillAlderleyTopDescending the flight, twice we had to use a shorter windlass to get the paddles to work, but by far the worst was a bottom gate paddle on the fourth lock down were the windlass just fitted on the very end of the spindle to miss hitting the beam, then is spinning off and nearly hitting Jan.

Health and safety gone mad, and surely a claim for injury in the offing with one of those 'no win no fee' solicitors...

Missed one

The contractorsor more likely CaRTmissed one lock that certainly needs attention, the top gate of the top lock at Tyrley, as another cill is buggered and well on the way to collapse.

Which brings me to the pointjust who is to blame for this 'comedy of errors'? The people who first inspected and decided what was to be done? Those who designed how the paddle gear was fitted? Those doing the work? Or those inspecting when completed?

Who ever, it is a poor reflection on CaRT that is ultimately responsible.

2BrewoodHireHire boat industry

One thing for sure, there are plenty of hire boats cruising the Shroppie, many doing the 'ring' I should imagine as one hirer from Stone told us that the rather long boat he had was the only one left for hire when he booked.

And I noticed there were only a couple of boats left in the Anglo Welsh yard at Haywood Junction. So even though not the main school holiday season, things seem to be doing well.

So I just could not understand why so many of the hire boats of Countrywide Cruisers were moored offside at Brewood.


We were expecting a little help from those much vaunted CaRT volunteers on Audlem Flight, but ner a one, though perhaps having our own system with flights it was for the better. Not sure where all those many 'hundreds' of volunteers are, but have not seen a one all week. Perhaps another of those well known exaggerations, eh?

5MarinaPleased to see it

I was most pleased to see the Overwater Marina at Audlem, that is very much well appointed offering many facilities to its many moorers and quite massive. Pleased of course because it means all those hundreds of boats in there were off the Shroppie. A couple of the same towards the Staffs & Worcs would be a blessing indeed.

I rather liked its setting that was extremely rural and without noise, that its moorers should appreciate. Ours has its entrance 180 yards from a M1 motorway bridge, half a mile at the end of Sawley Cut from a railway, that both pale into insignificance from the East Midlands Airport less than three miles away. It helps if you are deaf! Moorers should appreciate Overwater indeed.

 A sorry tale

Let me tell you a talethis time about dear CaRT's licence department. This month was time for our new boat licence, and to make it easier to obtain we used the internet. All went well so far, though they do make a bit of a pigs-ear of at times using one page per question.

The licence people having details of our Boat Safety Certificate, accepted it without our having to enter it on their form, but though also having details of our insurance policy, that had no way expired, they wanted it entered again. A telephone call resulted in our being told that yes, the insurance had not expired, so it was asked they accept it. But no, it had to be entered on the internet form. So can we have it please? No, said she, we can't do that, you have to enter it.

But let me explain. The insurance details were on the boat, and the internet form was being completed some distance away at home. But explaining this had no effect.

That took the whole of 26 minutes, and nothing gained, so it was a telephone call to our insurers Newton Crum, and what a difference, all the information given in seconds. Perhaps here a mention of this insurance company that has given us good service for many years, and though others have offered theirs, it is by far the cheapest with excellent cover, and no increase in charges for many a year. Could be worth trying.

However one digresses, for there is more. A few days after we managed to get our boat licence, an email was received from CaRT stating that the person completing the form had sold the boatto the person completing the form? How's that for crazy?

Victor Swift