Wheaton Aston lock. An ordinary Shroppie lock.
Although I slept well, I’m still a bit anxious. Linda gave me the confidence, but this is the first lock I will do TOTALLY ON MY OWN!
As per usual I start early. This enables me to do the lock without gongoozlers, or other boats. So I can make a right fool of myself, if I want to.
The lock is set for me. So I moor WRT at the beginning of the lock landing, thus being able to get some speed to cruise through the bywash.
I open the lock gates the way Pat showed me: stand on one lock gate and push the other gate open with my foot. Perfect, thank you, Pat.
The bywash turns out not to be fierce, and easily WRT glides into the lock.
Gates closed I start the procedure. By opening the gates slowly WRT rises up without going all over the lock. Brilliant!
Just before the lock is completely filled I spot this Viking Afloat holiday boat coming towards me. Great! That means that I can leave the gate open. Saves me mooring up.
But… I can’t open the lock gate. It’s stuck, or just too heavy. Even with the help of WRT the gate stays closed.
In the mean time the hire boat is at the lock landing. The guy gets off, middle rope in his hands. And watches me struggle…
He doesn’t seem to realize that if he doesn’t give me a hand WRT will not get out of the lock, they won’t be able to get into the lock, and we all will stay where we are, till the end of the world.
So I shout: “Could you give me a hand, please?”
Out of the boat comes this elderly woman (about my age?), dressed in very light blue pyjama’s (?). She is barrel shaped. No, not the size the real ales come in nowadays, but the old style barrels. Of a size, if you would make a table out of the barrel it would easily sit six people.
She takes one step off the boat and, lo and behold, falls. Face down in the mud and the wet grass, shoes flying all over the place.
One of the bollards at the lock landing must have its lucky day: she just misses it.
But she doesn’t move a limb after falling down. Oh, me… why did I ask for help?
In the end the guy fastens his middle rope to a bollard, looks at his wife, and helps me to open the lock gate.
Of course I moor up behind them, as soon as I’m out of the lock. To see if I can do anything.
She can’t get up. Not because she’s injured, no, it’s because of her size. So she slowly crawls, on her belly, back onto the cruiser stern deck. Luckily she still smiles.
I thank them for their help, ask again if she is alright, and then I move on.
No, I don’t think I will ever forget the very first lock I had to do on my own!
PS Needles to mention that, minutes later, someone decides to water my herb garden. And yes, this time I had my water proofs at hand.
Oh, the joys of boating!