Monday, 22 June 2009

Saltley and a lack of water

An early start wasn't really necessary, but there is really not a lot to do at the Star City moorings. A huge red neon "Casino" sign blinked all night long and is still flashing at Aston this morning, but it all seems like a scene from Blade Runner - huge car parks, bland corporate architecture, no feeling, no emotion, no humanity. It used to be the Nechells B power station, I think.

The early morning light allows me to reminisce: I lived just a mile away for three years back in the 1980s and walked this area. It all seems so unfamiliar now. I don't think I like it. What's the saying? Never go back?

North Star pushes through the still waters towards the locks, passing the sites of the old power stations and the old FMS boatyard. We pass the first lock uneventfully but then run out of water halfway up the second lock. For the third night running, vandals have emptied part of the flight.

Mark and Eugene, the British Waterways maintenance crew responsible for the area, are already on site letting water down, but the spacing means that they even need to check the Camp Hill flight as well to ensure enough water is available.

It takes an hour to get enough water into the very short pound, and we have a go when the water is still two feel off the normal level. North Star almost makes it, but the overflow weir is so fierce that the bow is swept right over to the bank. Mark helps T with the rope to move us back in line.

We continued up the flight smoothly and expected to have an easy run up through Digbeth, the Ashted and Farmers but we see plenty of other boats.
We pass Armadillo, another boat that blogs, waiting for the bottom Camp Hill lock and an extremely attractive tug on the Ashted flight.

Log (Star City to Sherborne Wharf)
5.3 miles, 24 locks. Feels like 124 locks. No, seriously.

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