It’s downhill all the way

From Wolverhampton Top Lock Moorings to Norbury Bridge No 38, a distance of 17 miles, 6¾ flg and 23 locks.

It was all a bit dull and gloomy when we got up the next morning to head off down the locks. There were a couple of other boats pointing down the locks but there was no sign of life as we got the top lock ready and set off.

We were a few locks down when I lifted the back deck board to check something with the gear linkages and I saw that diesel fuel was happily spraying all over the engine. We pulled over to the bank and stopped to investigate. The slight fuel leak from the other day had got a lot worse, and the return line from the spill rail had sheared totally where it was work hardened from its construction. We scratched our heads for a bit before coming up with a solution:

  1. Crimp the sheared line shut so that excess fuel from the fuel filter can’t go up the pipe and spray over the engine
  2. Using part of a nozzle off a tube of mastic make an adaptor that fits onto the stump of pipe on the spill rail. Fix a hose to that adaptor and run the hose into an empty wine bottle propped up in a paint kettle sitting in the bilges. Fuel only drips into the bottle so it lasts a few hours
  3. Empty the contents of the wine bottle back into the fuel tank every few hours – which probably gets you some very odd looks.

So running repairs made we continued on our way at quite a reasonable speed and we even met a couple of boats on the way up and we left Wolverhampton Bottom Lock No 21 less than 3 hours after we’d entered the flight.

We saw some of the most uncivilised boating behaviour at Autherley Junction that we have seen for a long time.

As we came past Oxley Marine a boat pulled out from the towpath moorings and turned under the bridge onto the Shroppie. We started to head over to the bank to drop off crew and a narrowboat that was coming in the opposite direction simply turned and went under the bridge – without checking what was going on.

So when we get to the lock there is this situation:

  1. Boat in the lock going onto the Shroppie
  2. Second boat under the bridge with his nose resting on the lock gate
  3. Boat waiting, by the boat yard, to come into the lock.

So what happens next? Does the boat under the bridge back up and make space for the other boat to come through the lock? No of course it doesn’t – its crew slam the lock gate shut in front of the other boat  (which is single handed) as it approached the lock and proceed to take their boat through the lock. If we had been on that other boat we would have had some choice words for the guy on the tiller of boat in the lock – and those words would have been “Frankly Sir, you are an arse”

The boat left the lock and slowly moved off down the canal. We helped the single handed boat through the lock and then got Mintball into the lock – by this time Mr unsociable hadn’t even made it to Bathurst Bridge No 2 and although we proceeded at a less than normal speed we were slowly catching up with him – he seemed to have serious problems with any bridge hole as he had to slow down to a crawl, didn’t seem to understand the concept of bridge etiquette when there is boat coming the other way, and basically seemed to be pissing people off from the comments we got from boats we met who had met him.

Luckily we’d decided where to stop for the night and so, even with him in front of us, we still had time to stop at Wheaton Aston Visitor Moorings and have a couple of relaxing pints, and it is worth taking the walk up to the Coach and Horses especially if you swing round via the church, as there is quite a lot more to Wheaton Aston than you see from the canal.

We spent the rest of the afternoon tidying things up as we chugged along as as we’d reserved a table at The Junction Inn at Norbury we knew that as long as we could find somewhere to moor anywhere near the pub we’d be fine and so, as the darkness started to fall we pulled onto the first available mooring we could find on the extensive visitor moorings on the embankment near High Meadow Aqueduct

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