The Cruise of the Dondevoy


I decided to tow the boat when I could, and hitch tows whenever possible, although there do not seem to be many boats passing in either direction. It was very hard work towing, as the rope kept snagging on the weeds and pulling the boat onto the mud, and as there is no towpath, I had to stumble through nettles and thistles, and tributary dykes and streams. In the end, I hit on the idea of fixing the rope about a yard from the bow, and fitting a makeshift rudder on the stern. This worked well, and I got through two locks by evening. Unfortunately, at the second one, there is a large block of wood slung across in front of the guillotine gate[1], and as I was filling the lock, I noticed that the tent pole on the boat was jammed underneath it. I rushed to try and free it, but could not do so. While I was pulling, the spike on top of the pole suddenly penetrated the wood, trapping my thumb in a very efficient thumbscrew. There was nothing I could do, except shout for help, and try not to faint from the pain. After a while, I could not say how long, as the lock was still filling, the boat jerked sideways, and my thumb was free. I did not dare look at it at first, in case it was not there, but thankfully it was, but a very odd shape. Quickly, I let the water out of the lock and closed the paddle on the upper gate, and lay down on the grass to think. I decided to get the boat through the lock first, and then go and look for a doctor. This I did.

After a walk of about a mile into the town of Wellingborough, the thumb was almost its normal shape again, although covered in blisters, and very painful. I still thought it was best to see a doctor, in case I was about to suffer from shock or something. There seemed to be no doctors at home, however, so I went bell ringing instead, and spent a pleasant evening, even though I was not invited to the pub afterwards.

[1] The bottom guillotine gate of this lock has since been replaced by pointy gates.

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