I do like tunnels. But what do I do when I break down in one of these one-way crooked tunnels, way up north?
I decide I’ll send CRT an email and ask them.
The answer? “When you break down in one of these tunnels you phone us and phone RCR*.”
Phone someone? In a tunnel? Don’t think so.
But there is a way around that, by phoning someone before entering a tunnel and after leaving the tunnel. Do I not phone within, say, fifteen minutes, then something is wrong.
But there still is the question: how do I get out of the tunnel? So what happens when CRT gets the message that I broke down in the tunnel?
The answer? “We’ll send other boaters an email that the tunnel is blocked, and RCR will get you going.”
But how does RCR get to me? So I phoned RCR. Explained my problem, told them which tunnels I was talking about.
The answer? “You just have to pull your boat out.”
Me: “How do I pull the boat out?”
He: “Just grab a rope and pull.”
Me: “Do you know these tunnels?”
He: “Yes, they are short and very straight. You will be out in no time. Anyway, once you’re out of the tunnel…”
Well, these tunnels are not straight, and there is no towpath. Do I jump in the water and pull 18 ton of steel? I don’t think so.
So the only thing I can do is boat hopping…
On a gorgeous day I leave Billinge Green Flash, and make my way to Anderton. I plan to get a newspaper at Broken Cross, but there is no space to moor up.
Once at Anderton I start asking people if they by any chance go through the tunnels.
The first boat I ask, will do only one: Barnton.
That’s fine with me, one tunnel done.
Then… no boats for two hours. Time for supper.
And yes, just as supper was on the plate three boats show up.
It must be their first time through these tunnels. In Barnton Tunnel they’ve damaged plant pots hanging from the handrail, and the boat in front of me goes SO SLOW that I have to reverse once in a while. The boat behind me uses his bow thrusters all the time.
But I manage to get through two of the three tunnels. Great!
After two nights at Dutton Breach I make my way to the last tunnel, Preston Brook Tunnel. But because this is well away from the popular cruising rings, and due to the lack of water in the north one can’t go to many places, so all the boats I’ve seen over the last week or so are heading south…
I have to wait 3¼ hour before the first boat shows up!
Coming out of the tunnel things just go downhill. I hit a solid wall of water…
I change my initial plan to get to Stockton Heath At Moore I decide I can’t do more and moor up.
I’m soaked, there is a swimming pool in the engine room. And the back doors got so wet, the wood has changed shape. I can’t even lock them properly.
But I’m through the tunnels!
*RCR = the RAC (Wegenwacht) for boats