When we stopped last night, it was really because we had to. Not only was it rapidly getting dark, but we were getting hardly any power through the prop. We hoped that this was just a build up of the notorious weed, and not some more serious damage caused by reversing for an hour and three quarters with a piece of tree on the prop. We did quite a good job of putting it out of our minds for the evening. In any case, a far more dire emergency asserted itself: we had run out of tea. We couldn’t even have a soothing, calming, warming cuppa.
A quick inventory of the hot beverage cupboard revealed a dozen teabags of spiced black tea (left over from my vegan days; it’s very nice but does have a tendency to provoke hiccups); one blackcurrant and three lemon and grapefruit teabags (left over from god knows what); a small jar of Nescafe which I think came with Andante; closer investigation revealed traces in the bottom from the carboniferous era which, after soaking in a little hot water for a few minutes provided enough for two weak cups of something that could just about pass as coffee amongst people who ere not used to drinking coffee; and about an equal amount of instant hot chocolate. It was with great joy this morning that I recalled the warming beverage potential of the unopened jar of Marmite in the back of the food cupboard. Sadly, I was unable to persuade any of the other members of the crew of its benefits.
Overnight it got really windy, and it was blowing us straight onto the bank. With a lot of effort we managed to turn round so that we were finally facing the right way, but we couldn’t get the fore end out far enough for long enough to make any headway, and despite having cleared a lot of weed off the prop, still seemed to be short of power. After struggling with the shafts for ages, we finally admitted defeat – or rather made a strategic withdrawal to regroup ready for the next assault.
One idea was to wait until the wind dropped, but a quick consultation with the BBC Weather Centre via my super internet enabled phone revealed that this was due to occur on Sunday. So we rang John Shotbolt for local advice. He suggested clearing the prop again, as it had probably picked up more crap, including the old weed, during the morning’s exertions, then poling it forward ten feet or so to get clear. We did this, and it didn’t seem to make a great deal of difference (though we did get a lot more weed off), with the wind still being a major obstacle. However, eventually, through a combination of luck and lots of grunting, especially from heroic poler Baz, we did manage to get into the middle of the channel and under way.
We had initially planned to head for March this morning, but it was two o’clock by the time we got away, and not much chance of getting there before the shops shut. So we went back to Ramsey. We saw John at Lodes End Lock, and he asked if we were coming for a beer tonight. Erm, well, what do you think? Then we went right into the town, and tied up across the winding hole waiting for fishermen various to vacate the staithe. I introduced Baz to the mysteries of the Rainbow (vs) where we stocked up on Co-op 99 tea. When we got back we tried to tie up to the quay, but there was even less water than before and we couldn’t get within four feet of it, so we’ve come back to Bill Fen. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? In the mean time, at least we’ve had a nice cup of tea.