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1. Waiting for the 'off' at bridge 9.
2. The convoy.
3. Val and wilvir breasted up.
4. Moored in Salthouse Dock.
We arrived at the little hamlet of Melling, that sits above the canal, on Tuesday, ready for our run into Liverpool the following morning. We were now ten canal miles from our destination and the day had been glorious, with bright warm sunshine and a sky that gave us a clear view to the horizon where we could make out some of Liverpool's tallest landmarks. Jim is pretty familiar with the city, whereas we have never been before, and is to be our guide for the week of our stay.
The following morning we made our way to bridge 9 where we met with the five other narrowboats who, together with us, were being escorted by BW staff into Liverpool. The reason for the escort was to maintain the flow of traffic across the swing-bridges as we passed through in convoy and to operate the six locks that let us down into Salthouse Dock. There was also a noticeable police presence keeping an eye on our progress, although I would like to think that was more coincidence than actual necessity.
Jim and Helen were sixth in the convoy behind us and hard pressed to keep up due to the pace the lead boat was setting. The seventh boat was right on their stern and also forcing the pace so much that little 'Val' overheated and ended up being towed by the boat behind to the next service point.
Jim had managed to alert us with his horn that he had a problem, but I was unable to go astern due to the amount of plastic bags that had wrapped themselves round our propeller, and had to stop to remove them. This meant we ended up last in the convoy, which I was glad of. On catching up with Jim at the service point we decided to drop the speed to a reasonable paces and I would bring up the rear in case his engine overheated again. However, having reduced speed his engine was back to its old self and running quite happily.
Although there was no further sight of the boats in front we actually caught up with their tail-end charlie at the first lock proving once again that churning water to foam gets you nowhere. The BW staff were also very helpful and let Jim know that there was no rush so we couldn't quite understand why the lead boat had set off at such a pace. Infuriatingly, the 'lady' on the boat that reluctantly towed Jim to the service point couldn't understand why the pace was so slow. Some people! They haven't the patience understanding or consideration to be a narrowboat skipper and are only ever going to be just a narrowboat owner!
Ginny was afraid she might miss a treat if she stayed below so we were both drenched to our undies as the rain hadn't stopped for a minute throughout the journey. And what a great journey it was too. The view and sense of historic grandeur as we approached the Royal Liver Building was something we will remember forever.
Entering the city via the canal link and the huge docks connected to the River Mersey was, to say the least, an emotionally uplifting experience, especially considering that my father often passed through these docks in their heyday as a merchant navy seaman. We finally passed through Albert Dock into Salthouse Dock and the floating pontoons where we would be moored for our stay.
It continued to rain all that night and yesterday so we spent the day wandering the shopping centres and buying a few necessities before returning to 'wilvir' and taking Gunner for a walk.
Today (Friday) the sun is out. Hooray! Now for the cultural bit and lots of photos to take!
27th Apr 2012, 15:31