As I am writing this (on Thursday 24 July) I realise it is one day short of 2 months since we left NZ. A lot has happened in that time, even if we haven’t cruised as far acanal (the boating equivalent of afield) as we had expected to.
Milestones for 23 July: Have passed lots of them, esp on the Macclesfield Canal which has them in abundance – they all look like headstones with chiselled lettering. Oh, that’s not the reporting milestones you were expecting? OK, here goes.
· Milestone 1 – David arrived back in NZ to a Wellington mid winter southerly with a 5 deg wind chill factor. Went to bed not long after arriving home (courtesy of Gary who collected him from Wellington Airport). Two hot water bottles, loads of blankets, and he can’t find his warm pyjamas! The other thing was that his bag did not arrive with him back into Christchurch – he was the first one out to baggage claim and the last to leave.
· Milestone 2 – He successfully found Gregor’s carriage clock and champagne opener that we’d put in a safe place, (almost) never to be found again. Usual story – we decide on a place, are convinced we’ll remember it, and then promptly forget. One of our favourite hiding places for precious things was in the piano, so we both had palpitations thinking that we may have put them there – and we sold the piano a few weeks before we left … But no, we don’t have to replace Gregor’s treasures.
· Milestone 3 - My first day as a single hander – from Marple to Macclesfield: 100% complete, a successful water fill before leaving, then 11 miles, no locks or lift bridges. Lots of boats coming the opposite way though, so in most instances I let others go first through bridgeholes, esp if the side I was on had plenty of room. A couple of women kayaking flat out came towards me and then overtook me when they turned around. I could see them when they were beside me, but not when they were in front for some distance so I went into neutral – seeing 2 sets of flashing paddles was a help until they pulled well ahead.
· Milestone 4 – The warmest day of the year here so far – eat your heart out, David! I have improved my tan, but for the sake of my neck I repaired my cap – sewed the hankie back in more securely.
· Milestone 5 – Lunch at Lyme View Café – my reward for successful first half of the solo journey. Lovely food and excellent service. My lunch was a lovely goat’s cheese salad starter made into a main by adding a side salad and fries.
o When I’d moored up and was heading for the café along the towpath, a couple of kayakers asked me if they could leave their kayaks and gear beside the boat while they went for a drink at a nearby pub. They had been on the cut since 7am and were trialling their gear for a Firemen’s Charity event in which they are circumnavigating the Cheshire Ring in early August (portaging through the locks). They had a cool thing for heating food – a metal tray they put a pack of some chemical that they added water to and it heated up the food in a container that slotted into the metal tray. Very cool! Well, actually, very hot. The guys did make me laugh though – they made sure not to let their forks touch the towpath but they were happy to place them on the bottom of the kayaks …
· Milestone 6 – lost the first piece of laundry overboard. Coming through Bollington the wind picked up and I looked alongside to see a familiar Tshirt sinking. I hope it sank like a stone and stays on the bottom so it doesn’t wind around someone’s prop. I had no way of getting it out of the water. I did however stop in the next bridgehole and raced through the boat to get all the rest of the washing out of the cratch and tossed it on to the sofa in the saloon.
· Milestone 7 – Mooring up at the marina visitor mooring in a strong wind: 100% complete, with a bit of swearing and much hauling on the middle rope to stop the boat from blowing away down the cut – the 60 foot by 3 foot 6 inch side of the boat acts as a very effective sail. Once the middle rope was finally tied on, I got the back tied, then the front, then the middle again to tighten, then adjusted the back and front again. Breathe out.
· Milestone 8 – Put up pram cover in the wind: 100% complete. I wasn’t sure if it was better to leave it down with the wind or to put it up, but decided that at least if it was up all the canvas would be supported by the framing, whereas down it could flap about and may tear.
· Milestone 9 – A good night’s sleep: 100% complete. When I got into bed I could hear the boat squeaking against the rubber fenders on the jetty. It was only at the stern, so I eventually went out and loosened the rope. Then I could hear the middle rope creaking as the boat moved a bit in the wind. Too bad. I decided that 3 ropes would hold the boat and that I had knotted them correctly, so decided that sleep was the best remedy for noisy ropes.