Well the Big Lock re-opening has been delayed until 23rd, but despite the 3/4 inch ice on the canal here in Middlewich, and minus 7 degrees at 7am, a whole team of BW men have turned up and worked the first dozen boats through already.
Its open until 3pm, then again tomorrow from 11 to 3pm but having spoken to some boaters who had arrived here this morning, the ice has halved their speed, and with modern powerful engines, all have been stuck somewhere en route. Theres no way Zulu is powerful enough to break ice like this, even following another boat, so I am almost resigned to the fact that we wont be setting off this side of Christmas.
Our target was to be through Braunston and Buckby by 11th January, so this is still achievable without risking the ice today. I also dont fancy doing the Cheshire Locks single handed today and I normally hauling the boat with a solid frozen rope, whilst a little safer than climbing icy ladders, still doesnt appeal.
I’m keeping an eye on the weather, and now that several boats have gone through the lock, its tempting to set off through the already broken ice, but I know if it freezes as hard tonight as it did last night I could end up literally frozen in. Probably safer to wait until Christmas is over and enjoy a day’s Christmas shopping in Manchester instead!