why didn't they build the aqueduct?
a tale of Jim, Amanda and Mayfly from when they were a few decades older... but no wiser!
“Next thing we’ve got to do is get through the link and back before they close the blooming thing for the winter. I mean they spend all that cash on it and you have to jump through hoops before they even let you use it,” Amanda said, a little nervously.
“It shouldn’t be that bad. We’ve been running long enough to know that the outboard is reliable enough. It’s certainly got the power to punch the tide,” Jim smiled. “There’s plenty of people around if the thing does let us down.”
“But she won’t will she,” Amanda replied a little more calmly. “Mayfly has never once done that has she.”
The link north utilised two tidal rivers and a brook that ran close to the isolated northern section. Whilst Mayfly was more than capable of navigating between the two sections of waterway, Jim and Amanda’s knowledge of tidal water was sketchy to say the least and both were just a little nervous of making the jump or their being late for the locks which they, despite their experience, were not allowed to operate themselves.
“Well, here goes,” Amanda said, swinging the little motor round to take Mayfly under the bridge that spanned the entrance to the arm that would take them to the tidal river. Almost immediately they were met with a lock with a more than unusual mechanism that looked like it had been made of scrap from a garden shed. Despite the appearance, and difference to the norm, the locks in the area seemed to function perfectly well, and the couple soon found they were not alone in their travel. There were four steel narrowboats with whom they were able to share the locks.
“You’re a bit small for the crossing,” the owner of one of the craft said.
“Mayfly’s been a good companion for a long time,” Amanda smiled. “She won’t disgrace herself. They used to use little boats like this for island hopping in the Hebrides, so she’ll cope with worse than an estuary. Not sure I’d like to go to sea in her but people did, maybe still do.”
“They’d use a bigger motor than that though,” the man said.
“We’ll see,” Amanda replied good naturedly as they filed out of the lock.
The section of canal was rather pretty despite its closeness to a main road, and the crews of the little flotilla of craft soon bonded. Both Jim and Amanda exchanged stories, telling about their early days as two frightened teenagers setting off on an open ended adventure which, Amanda suddenly found herself thinking, hadn’t stopped so far.
The last lock on the section was not yet usable as the tide wasn’t at the right level for the boats to get across the estuary in time to get to the new canal link that they were aiming for. Both Jim and Amanda spent some time checking through the equipment that had been supplied.
“The GPS will hopefully tell us where we are, but we hardly need it because we’ll be following this lot. I guess we should connect to the motor on Bluetooth,” Amanda frowned slightly.
“That sounds very technical,” Jim smiled. “Anybody might believe we actually knew what we were doing.”
“If you don’t, I wouldn’t advise it,” Dan Rutherford, the owner of the boat that they’d shared most of the locks with said, having overheard the conversation. “We’ll keep an eye on you if you do choose to.”
“Thanks,” Jim smiled, feeling rather less than confident.
Two hours later it was time to go. The engine monitor of the outboard was displaying that all was well, and it was Amanda that flicked it into gear, opening the throttle to keep pace with the other craft. The determined growl of the little machine somehow inspired confidence as Mayfly picked up speed, and was more than able to punch current to keep up with the rest. Wash from the flat bottomed narrowboat hulls, was something of a nuisance, but they soon managed to find an area of calmer water to run in.
“How far are we up on the throttle?” Jim asked.
“We’ve got plenty spare if that’s what you’re worried about,” Amanda smiled, her confidence building by the minute as the little boat cut through the water leaving very little wake behind her.
“I guess it’s what she was built for, so it shouldn’t be a surprise,” she added.
Although the run wasn’t really that treacherous there were a few things they needed to keep in mind, the major two being not to miss the entrance to the link and also to go around the correct side of a marker. Having heard of the dire consequences of going the wrong way around it, both were on the alert. It was rather annoying that they’d have to make an overnight stop in what was once the docks, but was now occupied by a marina. The flotilla kept together and, bound by camaraderie, they decided to adjourn to a nearby pub for a meal together.
“You made it OK,” Dan smiled. “You must have been revving the ball bearings of that little thing though.”
“They’re ceramic,” Amanda smiled proudly. “She was re-engineered this year. We’re not sure quite what power she has, but it’s a fair whack more than it says on the tin.”
“It’s a nice little boat, looks good too,” Ruth Wilson, another owner added.
“She’s an old lady now,” Jim smiled. “We thought she was around fifty five or so, but she’s well into her seventies.”
“It must have been like Romeo and Juliet, when you first sailed off into the sunset,” Ruth smiled.
“Not exactly, I mean neither of us are dead yet, and we kind of aim to put that one off for as long as possible. We had to go, simple as that,” Amanda said.
“And we’re still running,” Jim laughed.
“I guess so,” Amanda replied. “There’s more than just an element of having to do this run.”