Wigan FlightPosted: June 10, 2014
Turning right, the few remaining boats disappeared left – all booked in for Liverpool. The first thing that struck us was how gigantic the lock gear is on the Wigan flight, everything on an industrial scale… gates on chain pulleys, ground paddles/gate paddles all round, massive reinforcement bars and deep unforgiving locks that take a mile if they’re given an inch of bad roping. Locals passed by – on both foot and motorbike – with shout outs generally emphasising how many locks still lay ahead. Exhausted crew on the only other boat we passed called ‘Enjoy the flight!’ with sadistic glints in their eyes. Thinking our luck was in and the locks would be for us, was, for the most part wrong as they are all very good at leaking full.
It was soon clear that there were no short cuts, no skipping over front gates, no dropping paddles, no one paddle operating system – it looked as though it was going to be a long haul, and it was.
Aside from getting used to scraping along the ground, jamming legs into the metal work in order to budge gates, we also experienced low pounds, two near sinkings (one when I opened the gate paddles too early and filled the bow, second when the button fender caught in the front gate) and a general trashing of the inside of the boat (cupboards open, remote controls flying, stove fan catapulted into the air, salt and pepper scattered …the usuals) All in all a bit of a rough ride.
A water fill at the top lock when, in search of the bins, we stumbled on a harsh reminder as to why we are so glad to have a pump out. Uuurghh.
The last hour of the day involved a thorough soaking. As the lightning flashed and the thunder cracked it was hard not to think about all that metal and water. A scungy bridge served as a welcome retreat, we took shelter with dog walkers and cyclists and talked for a while with a whole bunch of people we should never have met.