The Cruise of the Dondevoy


I was a little concerned that I might not make Autherley Junction by nightfall, but I need not have worried, as I reached the head of the Wolverhampton Flight of twenty-one locks by half past noon, and began a leisurely descent. At the fifth lock, I met a boat coming the other way. The people on board were complaining that the lock gates would not open fully, and rather than do anything themselves, they had summoned the lock keeper, whom they had apparently insulted earlier that morning, and he had been unwilling to help them. He was most helpful to me, however, opening a few gates and paddles ready for me. He warned me to leave the paddles properly closed in the lower locks, as there was a dry pound further down the flight.

When I reached the bottom lock, I realised that the lock keeper was talking through his hat. The top gate was wedged at least six inches open, and had I emptied the lock, would have leaked like a waterfall. No wonder the pound was nearly dry. I soon fixed the trouble by raking out a large stone which was resting on the sill, and the gate closed properly for me.

Now came my last piece of open cruising - the short run up to Autherley Junction, where I arrived before six o'clock.


The diary stops at this point. It omits the arrival of my father the next day, and the great difficulty we both had in dragging the by now waterlogged and heavy Dondevoy out of the water and onto the trailer. The entire trip had covered 346 miles of actual cruising, and 269 locks. Dondevoy never saw the water again; she was stored by being leaned and lashed to a tree for several years, and eventually when it became plain that her cruising days were over, formed part of a splendid bonfire. B.E.N.

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