The Cruise of the Dondevoy

    


Day started a little earlier than yesterday, as it had been a warmer night, so sleep had been easier. We set out in the Stratford direction. In the first lock we took a bit longer than usual, as the top gate leaked rather badly, making the bottom gate hard to open even with the paddles fully raised. I was unable to assist Sarah, as I was in the boat down in the lock. Immediately afterwards, we were accosted by a woman brandishing a windlass, who shouted that it was customary to wait at locks for the next boat, and muttered about the conservation of water being an unwritten law of the canals. I do not know all the unwritten laws of the canals, but certainly one of them is not to tell people what to do in such a rude manner. I would have waited for them had they been in sight, or if they had sent someone ahead to ask politely, but after that incident I was determined not to pass through a lock with them under any circumstances.

Typical bridge on the Southern Stratford Canal. These bridges are made of cast iron and are split in the middle to allow a tow rope to pass through. This means that there is no tow path under the bridge. Photo from http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3548859. ©Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

To make things worse, at the next lock they opened the top paddle before we had closed the bottom gate - there must be an unwritten law about that somewhere. In fact it is done all the time in the interest of speed, but to crash a gate with such force out of pure malice, on a canal in as poor condition as the Southern Stratford, is not quite the thing to do.

We moored above the top lock in Stratford itself, where we found the people who had given us a lift the night before. The reason we stopped was to let the obnoxious people through. Unfortunately they stopped for a while at the same place, so I glared at them in fine style while Sarah pretended to be buying something at the shop. This ploy obviously worked, for they soon cast off and went through the locks - alone. We locked through later with our new friends, mooring in the basin outside the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre.

Once Sarah had left for Cambridge, I spent the evening in the Dirty Duck down the road, and talked to an American couple who turned out to be more interesting than the usual tourist type.


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Copyright ©1972 Ben Newsam. The author of this diary may be contacted at ben.newsam@gmail.com