It’s going to be one of the hottest cruising days ever. It’s nice and warm when I get up, but when Lawrance finally is ready to take our rental car back to Enterprise in Chester it’s already 50°C in the well deck. By the time he’s back, finishes his lunch and we set off (13:00 hrs) it’s even hotter, but the thermometer only goes till 50°C…
We have about an hour and a half before we get to the first lock, so for now I leave the side doors open, to let some cool air in. But just before the lock I close side doors and cratch cover. Some locks have a tendency to pee, and we don’t want an indoor swimming pool.
Lawrance is at the tiller, I’m the un-locky. It’s hot. I take my time to open the lock. When Lawrance exits the lock I find out: I can’t close the gate. Too heavy, too hot. So Lawrance has to close it, and decides to do the remaining locks, while I do the tiller. After we do the second lock I notice a hire boat just behind us, so we decide to wait for them at the next lock. Extra crew, so less work for Lawrance in the heath.
Everything goes fine, until we get to the Bunbury Staircase locks. Lawrance signals me and John (on the hire boat) to moor up. He then tells us that there is a boat just leaving the top lock, and there is one boat to go down. While he get’s back to the lock, I think: one going down, two going up… time for the Bunbury Shuffle. So I go to the lock as well, and see two elderly ladies at the paddles (well, they are probably younger than I am, but you know what I mean, the grey hair, the kind of clothes, the I’m-too-old-for-this look on their faces). I tell them to do nothing at the moment, that we are going to do a shuffle. In the mean time I shout to Lawrance (who’s at the top lock): we’re going to do the Bunbury Shuffle.
Obviously it needs a clever illegal immigrant to tell eight UK residents how to use their canals and locks…!
I start explaining to the ladies what is going to happen.
“To save time and a lot of water, our two boats will be in the bottom lock (and going up) while your boat is in the top lock, going down.”
One of the ladies answers: “No, I think you can not do that. We have to come down first.”
“No”, I say, “Tell me, what are you planning to do now?”
Her answer: “We are going to empty the water of the top lock into the empty bottom lock.” (Hire boaters, just repeating literally what’s on the CRT instruction board.)
“So is there a problem with our two boats being in that bottom lock when you do that?”
The answer again: “Yes, I think you can not do that. We have to come down first.”
I must admit, I’m a bit nervous, just a tiny bit. OK, we’ve done the Chester Shuffle, and I have seen the Bunbury Shuffle before. In May 2013, when Swansong with friend Ian was one of the boats. But the embarrassment in case I’m wrong here…
Luckily Lawrance joins us then, so to prevent the ladies to start emptying the top lock I tell Lawrance to open the bottom gates, while I get WRT and the other hire boat.
John get’s into the lock, I get into the lock, and explain to John what we are going to do.
Once we are all level, we open the lock gates, and I take WRT into the top lock. John moves sidewards to the space I just left. Then the Black Prince boat in the top lock moves into the bottom lock, to John’s place. I then move sidewards to where the top lock boat was, and John moves into the top lock to the space I just left. We close the lock gates, and proceed as normal. Doing the shuffle this way none of us has to wiggle from left to right (or vice versa). It’s an much easier version of the original Bunbury Shuffle.
Of course it all works well. We save a lot of water, and WE save a lot of time. The Black Prince boat looses a bit of time, because they have to wait for us to get in the bottom lock. But saving water goes before saving time…!
We end the day at Barbridge Junction. Have a meal at the Old Barbridge Inn, and sit on the tow path until late (and colder). It was an hot but interesting day.