“Pendragon” starting the trip” day 1

Hi to you all,

The day had finaly come to make my way to Shardlow Marina to get aboard Pendragon and start to make my way back home towards Coventry.

On the morning of Saturday 23rd I woke early, looked out of the window to find snow covering the ground with a strong easterly wind blowing, certainly not what I’d like for my maiden trip. Having arranged my days off to cover this journey and a lift arranged for my brother in law, Tim, and myself to get over to Derby we had little choice but to go and see what it was like there.

We arrived at Shardlow at 9-00 am to be met, as arranged, by the previous owners, a nice couple, if a little odd, he doesn’t stop talking and his wife never stops moaning, a strange combination.

The snow was still falling and the cold wind was, if anything worse here than at home. We decided the first task was to light my newly fitted morso stove, “this wont take long ” said Tim………..Wrong!! …the chimney was blocked! after 2 hours poking, tapping and shoving a hosepipe up and down the chimney it was clear and the stove was glowing.

Dave and Carol, the previous owners were very concerned with the conditions as we had to navigate the Trent, before turning onto the canal and thought that it may be a better option to stay aboard overnight in the Marina and see what it was like in the morning. After much thought Dave suddenly said (much to Carol’s shock and disgust and she certainly let him know) Martyn, “do you want to risk it and go for it now?” …….I looked at Tim and said “yes, lets do it”

Dave had already kindly agreed to take Pendragon with me through the first two locks and give me a “driving lesson” if you like, reckon he was regretting it now, I thought. Carol left the boat, her parting words were “you must be mad” to pick Dave up at the second lock, in about an hour.

Tim pushed us off the mooring and we headed the 100 yards out of the marina and onto the Trent, Dave and I at the stern and Tim inside in the warm, I’d get him back later!

We moved down the Trent the mile to the entrance of the Trent and Mersey canal, the wind was blowing at our backs which was fine I thought but then we needed to turn sharply left, the wind hit the boat as we turned and I could see Dave was struggling, with a little extra power, Pendragon entered the relative calm of the canal.

The first lock approached, the boat was tied up and Dave went through the procedure we should follow at all locks. A nice steady cruise then followed, with continued instruction given, through a sheltered area of Shardlow, when after a further twenty twenty minutes I could see Carol, stood, hands on hips, at the side of the second lock. Another lock through, only 28 to go, I thought, only the remainder we will need to do on our own!

We said our goodbye’s and off we went…….slowly!!

Another lock approached, well this is it, our first lone attempt.

This seemed to be going to plan, with Tim operating the lock and me controlling the boat, then a problem………every time Tim closed one side of the gate, the other opened, he then had to run around to re-close the other one (he was doing well for a sixty year old) after three attempts, I couldn’t help but laugh. There must be a remedy for this but our lack of experience was showing, nevertheless we finally managed to pass through the lock and continue on.

We decided that I would try and get to Willington where I would moor for the night. The cold easterly was now hitting me in the side of the face with periods of heavy snow, which got worse as we moved into rural areas. After six hours we made it, managed to moor the boat, eventually and I finally went inside to find a roaring fire and a temperature of 25 degrees, I slumped down opposite it, absolutely freezing and exhausted (thought narrow boating was supposed to be relaxing)

After about an hour we crossed the canal (in a blizzard) to a pub where a couple of steaks and a few pints were enjoyed, I even managed to get the waitress to give me some oil (the only thing I’d forgotten) to fry the eggs in the morning. We returned to the boat for a well deserved sleep, my god was I tired!!………..First day over!