I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Monday 26 May 2014

A calamity at Bath Deep Lock and RIP Bunny

We had a lovely trip up the Avon on Thursday until we got to Bath Deep Lock – for those of you who don’t know about this lock it is 19 feet 5 inches deep and is Britain’s second deepest lock.

The lock was worked on during the winter and they have now put wires down the side to put ropes through as it is too deep to throw ropes up to the top. 

(This next bit is from an email I wrote to the Canals and River Trust on Thursday night)

I put the middle line through one of the wires and my husband opened the paddles – very gently.  As the boat got to the top I could see that the rope was going to get caught at the top of the wire and I wouldn’t be able to get at it to release it.  I went down the side of the boat to release the rope and heard an onlooker telling me that I had a problem at the back.  The tiller was jammed under the walkway and was bending badly.  By this stage there were two men off a boat coming down who were operating the paddles and I yelled to them to drop the paddles which they did without question and could then see what was happening so ran to the bottom gate to let some water out.

We now have a very badly damaged tiller with a possible worse scenario of needing a new rudder stock.  I put a comment on some of the canal Facebook pages to ask if anyone knew of someone who can help us as River and Canal Rescue say it is out of their remit.  I have been amazed at how many Facebook people have said that they have done the exact same thing in the same lock.  It makes me wonder how many other people who aren’t Facebook users have had the same problem.

I really think that something needs to be done at the lock.  The wires are a great idea but stop too low – to get the rope out I would have had to lie on the lock side and lean down to release the rope.  The walkway is a major hazard and perhaps signs along the side of the lock would remind people of its existence.

I was very shaken after the incident and more so as I thought of how serious it could have been if I hadn’t have been an experienced boater and thought to get the top paddles dropped.  Our bank holiday weekend with family is now scuppered and we are just hoping that we can find someone to sort out the bend!

The whole thing was very scary especially as I was balanced on the gunnel with a rope that was getting stuck when I realised what was happening.  I had vision of the boat sinking though Richard assures me that wouldn’t have happened.

Anyway I am here to tell the tale though, sadly, my lovely rabbit tiller pin is now in a watery grave which I am very upset about.

Richard bought a car jack yesterday to see if he could push up the bend – he could but it went back down again though it has moved a bit.  He has made up a jury rig so at least we can move on – hopefully we can get it sorted when we get to Newbury.

I put comments on three different canal Facebook pages and got all sorts of answers including other people who had done the same thing at the same lock – that overhanging walkway has a lot to answer for.

The jury rig
The angle that the tiller is now at
RIP Bunny

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