If you think you have already read this - you are right. I missed out Sunday, so go to Etruria Canals Festival 6 for that one.
We had decided to postpone departure until Monday, as John Mills and Graham Roberts were returning to join us for the trip back to Grendon for dry docking and blacking of the two hulls. Again the boats were on short cross straps and I managed to steer the pair back around the difficult turn at the junction and into the lock. All was going well, until Graham had a phone call to say that his wife had been taken to hospital and he obviously had to leave us as soon as possible. Fortunately, we were still in the outskirts of Stoke, so he was able to get to a rail station.
We were now three handed, which works fine, except that John Mills had to leave at the end of the day and if Graham was unable to return the following day, we were going to be down to two. Now the pair can be handled by a crew of two easily when there are no locks to contend with, but locking involves the butty steerer leaving the boat and attending to the lock, which makes it very strenuous indeed. Added to this complication, was the fact that John Stevens had recently twisted a new knee joint and was not as mobile as he was previously, so we would be virtually down to one and a half crew!
All the locks through Stoke were fine and we were dropping the motor through, followed by the butty immediately after if there were no other boats waiting to come up. If there were boats waiting, we would let them through before dropping the butty in the lock, unless there was a problem pulling the butty back from the top of the lock. In which case, the steerer of the waiting boat would be asked if they would allow us to bring the butty through first. In all cases our request was welcomed without hesitation. The motor was held back to the gate in the tail of the lock with a line, whilst this was being done and all had been fine, until we got to the Stone locks, when the full lock overflowed the bottom gate and began to fill the cabin - MY CABIN! Fortunately, I was able to release the line and pull the motor forward away from Niagra Falls, but not before several gallons had come aboard. All this was watched by a gongoozler from an adjoining bridge, who said not a word! Luckily, only the carpet and side bed got a drenching, although the coal box had to be pumped out.
We had got to The Star at Stone and John had already contacted NBT council members to try and raise another crew member, but no one was forthcoming at such short notice, so we were discussing the possibilities of the morrow with some apprehension, when a figure sidled up to our table from behind and sat down opposite. It was Our Saviour in the name of Barry Adams and were we surprised and relieved to see him - so relieved in fact that we both offered him a meal and beers on us for the remainder of the evening. He politely refused of course, being the generous person he is! Needless to say a good night was had by by all.