Happy New Year to everyone! It’s been a bit of a damp start but that seems to have been a bit of a pattern over the last few years. I was very glad of the rota falling kindly giving me New Year’s Eve off. I’m not sure if it is me getting older or the lack of sleep the weir-keeping has allowed me over the last little while, or both, but the chance of a night when I could actually sleep right through without having to set my alarm every hour or two was something I wasn’t going to waste enjoying myself. Bah Humbug. The ever increasing number of fireworks did mean that my slightly neurotic rescue dog made sure I didn’t miss all of it anyway. Bless her.
The period between Christmas and New Year was unusual in that I had a lifted lock gate to deal with, which is usually a summer problem. Someone had managed to wedge their boat under the gate when they were filling the lock and the raising boat took the gate with it. It’s the large-scale engineering equivalent of lifting it off its hinges, although they don’t have hinges, just a collar, hollow quoin and socket. Repairing it is a much lower-tech operation than you might imagine. It just takes some sash clamps, a bottle jack, some timber blocks and a little bit of know-how. In case for any reason you find yourself aboard a boat in about to do the same, please don’t panic. There’s no need. If you are aware of what is going on all you need to do is stop the water coming in by closing the upper paddles and let some water slowly out. There is no need you should ever get into that situation if you use the jolly yellow pins at the back of the lock chamber for your stern line. That’s why we paint them every year to remind you!
Lock gates are not supposed to look like this!