Saturday, 16 July 2011

Tied up in Chester

The weather forecaster spoke of heavy rain and strong winds all day but fortunately by 11 a.m. the rain had stopped, the sun was starting to appear so we set off toward Chester. It's not far - just a handful of miles - but five of those wide, slow, heavy locks barred the route as well.
We pottered on and pretty soon I saw a familiar looking boat coming the other way - it was our mate Jeff from Streethay Wharf, heading towards the pub mooring we'd just left. A pity that after two months away we were just a day apart: we could have been supping pints and exchanging anecdotes.
Star's engine has developed something of a thirst for oil and I was running low on stocks so I decided to call in at the new Tattenhall Marina which promised a chandlery. What a daft design it is! To get to the visitor jetty for fuel, pump-outs and 'stuff' means reversing into a couple of narrow pontoon moorings. Try doing that in a strong wind that howls across the open marina! I did and after getting blown broadside toward a massive stanchion I changed my mind and drove off. Oil could wait.
Beyond Tattenhall (remarkably empty but let's be kind and say most boaters were off cruising) came a solid line of, oh, 200 moored craft on farmer's field moorings. The canny farmer had even set up hard standing for DIY project boats. What an enterprise - a lot more profitable than Welsh sheep I'd wager.
Soon came the succession of five locks; fortunately we teamed up with another boat as all five were against us so needed filling and all five were fiendishly heavy too.
After the usual scruffy back street entry into Chester we found ourselves going past smarter flats and bars to the recommended moorings where we slotted in among a cluster of craft.
It certainly doesn't rival Manchester, Liverpool or Birmingham as a desirable canalside destination: opposite Mecca bingo and just down from the Frog and Nightingale. I'll report tomorrow on just how quiet our night was!

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