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February 1999

When Susan and I went to see Nick and Angie (why do I always think of Mick Jagger singing when I hear that name?) last weekend, we had intended to do a little cruising. I had suggested Kegworth, but Nick hadn't been up the Erewash and having just joined the Derby Canal Society, he wanted to look at its junction with the Erewash. I hadn't cruised that either, so was more than happy to go along with the idea. As it was, the river was too high to go anywhere (one problem with a river mooring) so we sat, chinned and studied cabin design instead.

However, today the river was kinder (though the weather wasn't) so I set out to join Nick and Angie "in the flood lock, on Little Mo, at 10-00 am" (his words). I arrived at the Marina, thermals akimbo, at 0955 and was just getting out of the 2CV when I saw Nick and Angie arrive! Nick had taken the precaution of checking with "our man on the spot", one Deuchar, C who had reported that both the Soar and the Trent were "open" so once on board, petrol topped up, fishing rod put away, centre rope put out and un-moored, we set off down river.

I was surprised at how short the distance was from Redhill to the confluence with the Trent. By road it seems to take an age (well, about 20 minutes) to get from Redhill to Trent Lock, but by water we hardly seemed to have been going for any time at all before we hit the big river, with water and weirs everywhere.

Fortunately, these days the way is well signposted and the weirs closed off with floating barriers (I still have an old Canals Guide, pre-signposts, with a detailed chart for the section from Derwent Mouth to Cranfleet) so we made our way steadily upstream to Trent Lock. Once there, Nick and I got off and did the lock and Angie steered - most unusual, this, as she usually does all the locking! Having got through the lock, we set off gently on the still waters of the Erewash Canal, once renowned for its duckweed but now weed-free, though there is still a lot of rammel in the water at Trent Lock. Does anybody know why the advice in Nicholson's to leave the top gates open so that the rubbish can go over the bottom gates is now not followed?

Having puttered past the houseboats (including the badly-planned double-decker with the chimney from the stove downstairs finishing on the balcony upstairs), it was suggested by Captain James T Howard that Warp Factor 3 might be a bit more appropriate than Impulse Power, so I wound the throttle up a little and was pleasantly surprised by the lack of wash and disturbance caused by Little Mo - old Sam Springer certainly got his hull design right with this one!

Just before a vicious s-bend under a road bridge, there's a Jet petrol station backing onto the canal with space to moor - useful for getting more petrol (note to Sid Arkless - is this in the Canal Route Planner?). Next there's a long straight stretch of canal parallel to Tamworth Road, along which I have driven (and been driven) since childhood, but never navigated. Coffee on the cabin top was swiftly downed, and all too soon Long Eaton Lock hove into sight. It was interesting, being used to seeing brick-built locks, to see a lock built of stone blocks, with no leaks from behind the lock walls. Long Eaton (as with most towns) turns its back on the canal, but the factories are still interesting (though not now producing the lace they once were) and the local council has improved the towpath and allowed access for the local residents from most of the streets in the town , many of which finish end-on to the cut. One good feature is loads of Doggie Doo Bins!

We left Duckholme Lock full, ready for our return and quickly made our way up the short pound to Sandiacre Lock. We didn't lock up here, but moored. I went and took some photos, then did the domestics (washing up, etc) whilst Nick and Angie walked a little way up the Derby. On their return, lunch was served before we turned and started back down again. When we got back to Duckholme Lock, we were surprised to find it empty again - no boat had passed us and the gates certainly didn't leak THAT badly.............

The return passage was just as blustery and damp as the outward one - the sky was blue, occasionally, BEHIND us, but above and in front of us the sky was leaden and the cloud almost unbroken. We were passed by a gaggle of canoeists going in the opposite direction, including a couple of Native American-style canoes which were portaged around the locks by sticking a pair of wheels, carried for the purpose, underneath. These 2 canoes were very well laden - I even saw a gas bottle in one!

We paused twice to unclog the prop - doing this was easier than delving down a weedhatch, but did involve Nick in laying flat on the stern deck to reach the prop of the cocked-up outboard. I must confess to being very impressed with the quietness and smoothness of the boat. The only outboard-powered boats I had previously been on were GRP, and these tended to act as sounding boards for the engine, transmitting noise and vibration very well! A steel boat, well lined, is another matter altogether and there was no vibration and little noise. The steering in reverse is also very good - much more positive than the usual rudder and prop!

Arrival at Trent Lock was celebrated with a visit to the Tea Rooms - always a good place to visit with over 20 varieties of tea on offer and a good selection of sticky buns and liqueur laden cakes (with ice cream, whipped cream or clotted cream) to sample. They also had a warm gas fire....... Tea and buns consumed, it was a simple matter to lock down into the Trent, turn right up the Soar, cruise straight through the flood lock at Redhill and back onto the moorings, safe and sound, just after 4 pm.

All in all, a pleasant day's boating, spoilt only by the poor weather


Created on July 12th 2008

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