Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Great Weld 1

Dutifully, we cancelled all appointments and took Andromeda over to Mills Dock Yard on the Long Eaton branch this morning.

It’s a nice run, but a short one. For a few minutes as you come off the Soar, you’re in the flow of the Trent and the pull of Thrumpton Wier. You can feel the push of the side wind here, coming from Sawley. There’s a great view of the open river, the cabins all along the back moorings, and of our ever present power station.

As I’m forever quoting, Andromeda is 70’ and has no bow-thrusters. She can be a heavy bugga when you’re trying to squeeze her under a narrow bridge with a strong side current.

While Jem wasn’t there, like and idiot, I jumped off with the rope to take a turn and bring her in. As I’m in mid air I caught the Morse control with my jacket. Andromeda is suddenly gunning full pelt for the bottom of the gates. This puts me on the bank, trying to stop her smashing into a lock with just a rope to hold onto. There’s water churning everywhere, tourists watching, and 25 tons of steel, pets and furniture heading for a pathetically flimsy wooden barrier that’s holding back a couple of hundred thousand gallons of H2O.

I did stop her, with an adrenalin boosted panic worthy of the pages of Marvel, but I’ve taken great chunks out of my left hand from rope burn. This hurts like a sod, but it’s all ‘seepy’ now and looks fascinatingly like flayed zombie flesh.

Jem rarely joins me for the short runs, which is a real shame, as she has to play ferrying cars around. I met her at Trent Lock tea rooms outside the Steamboat.

Jema captured a rare moment of me getting some proud windlass action. Jem normally does the locks and swing bridges and all that malarkey and, in the last 6 years, this is only the 4th time she let me touch a lock gate. I’m sure she hides the windlass to stop me meddling.

“We’ll expect you Saturday, bright and early” Steve said on Thursday. You forget sometimes how the pace of life works on the river. “We’ll, probably get you in the dock Wednesday” he says on arrival, “…or Thursday, but we’ll try for Wednesday, eh?”

This’ll give me time to take the awning and A frame cupboard off ready to get in there and open up the floor. I’ve no idea how that thing comes apart, but I’m pretty sure that an hour or two with a Leatherman and a paint scraper and I’ll get it off a treat. Steve can put it back on though, so Jemas pretty blue awning fits cool afterwards. Anyway, it started raining this afternoon so that skuppered that for a plan.

It’s odd actually; I keep looking at the rain like we’re still on the river and worrying about flooding and stuff, but it really doesn’t matter on the canal.

So now we’re perched in the dock mouth, ready and waiting to go. There’s a list of jobs as long as my arm that need doing, but we need to be all sorted and moved into the new gaff within the next 2 weeks. I’ll probably have to take a couple of days off at short notice (Wednesday at least please Debs, if you’re reading this) to get stuff done.

It all seems very final. I’m sure the house will be really cool, and a whole new adventure, but I’m really gonna miss the boat and the river.

We managed to make it over to Shining Cliff, for a social in the evening (of Helen and Terrys making). A couple of hours of caching up with good mates, Star Wars related board games (Epic Duels, with Captain Depper, Terry, Mr. Lees, Lorrie etc.) and a bottle of red, put a pleasant cap on the day.

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