Monday, 21 September 2009

The man with the Whirling Windlass

Warning: be careful when you ask to visit a narrowboat. You don't know what you might be letting yourself in for.
More Starship Troopers joined the crew at Johnson's Hillock locks (or is it 'Johnson's Hill Locks; I never worked that out?) for a short overnight visit. Knowing son-in-law Nick's seemingly inexhaustible energy, I had something special in mind. The seven Hillock locks were just a taster. Next day the 21 lock Wigan flight lay in front. Was he willing to give it a go? Does a cat like to catch mice?
We hit the top of the locks at 9 am just as a Braidbar boat 'Shield Maiden' was about to go down – lucky them. The lock-keeper had primed the locks in our favour. Lucky us. Down we went together and Nick of the whirling windlass got to work; his arm spinning like a blur as he wound paddles up and down. I was, shall we say, pacing myself alongside, while Starwoman steered and heavily pregnant Star-daughter Lucy saw on the front deck, photographed the action and supplied squash and biscuits to the lockwheelers.
Alongside us, Mrs Shield Maiden kept up with the action while her husband leant contentedly on the tiller. (How many crews we must have seen like this - 'heavily built' hubby on the tiller and lean, fit wife battling with the locking! This one didn't even step off the stern to help his missus push the gate shut...)
Anyway, we were down that flight in exactly three hours thanks to the man with the whirling windlass.

1 comment:

dk said...

Have just read your account of sharing locks with Braidbar boat Shield Maiden dated 21/9/10.
You observe that while the wife battles with the locks her "heavily built hubby rests on the tiller".
We are the current owners of Shield Maiden who we purchased from the couple who you shared locks with. The gentleman you refer to had to sell the boat a few months later due to the onset of Parkinsons disease, maybe this was the reason he did not, or was unable to assist his wife with the locks. Things are not always what they seem.
With regards
David Kirk (NB Shield Maiden)