Heads, Wrists, and Roasting to Death

I will not be getting into so much detail on the way home as it is almost all retracing our steps for a few weeks. It has been interesting and at times painful. Not a lot going to plan.

We left Devizes on the 9th of July with an intention to be around Froxfield by the time we moored upfor the week. We heard about how low the water was (we were regularly grounded so this was not a shocker) and that the Caen flight (27 locks in immediate succession to the west of Devizes) was closed. We headed east glad to be getting away from that. What we didn’t understand at this point was that the locks going up that we were intending to do that day were also closed. The pumping station that keeps the canal watered was broken. I looked at the Canal and River trust website a bit before Pewsey to find our weekend’s cruising would be stuck west of Wooton Rivers. We decided to find a mooring and call it for the weekend at a section near Wilcot called Wide Water (the canal is very wide…apt but not creative).

This is when things turned painful! Alan was helming as there were no locks around so I was at the front and it was my job to get off onto the towpath and help pull us in. Now the Kennet and Avon Canal is dangerously unkempt. The sides of the canal/towpath are vastly overgrown with weeds and reeds from neglect by the Trust and local authorities. The towpath looked solid but it was matted weeds not solid ground. I jumped from the bow as it nudged up to what looked like ground but it wasn’t. My feet slipped as Alan moved the bow away to bring in the boat. I fell backwards thwacking my head into the hull of the boat. I luckily didn’t lose conciousness or I likely would have drown. Alan saw me fall so he didn’t bring the boat in or I would have been crushed. The weeds I fell threw were stinging nettle so I had welts over most of my legs and my right arm and a badly bruised and concussed head.

The canal was closed until the 15th which was luckily the next day we had available to move. My head was not perfect and I am still having headaches 10 days later but I could manage the helming. Our youngest daughter, Kat, was with us to get some time away from home after her beloved cat, Nox, was killed by a speeding van on the 9th. She still needed to work but she was sleeping in the boat while we cruised and then Alan was driving her back to Milton Keynes for work. We managed to get from Wilcot through the newly reopened locks and all the way to Crofton Pumping Station where the broken pump had recently been repaired. We did get a visittor mooring there so i could get on and off without a plank and mooring was safer. Sadly, these moorings are very few and far between and not where near enough to provide safe moorings for all.

On the Saturday we moved on and got to Froxfield where we knew that there were again a few safe moorings if something was available. As I am feeling quite scared getting on and off right now thesse moorings have been a godsend. After a noisy night of another boater having a party not far away we were up and on our way at about 7:30am. The first lock was just next to the boat for the most part so Alan went to set the lock and Kat went to bed. I was feeling good and happy we should get to Kintbury where I knew there was more decent moorings and a little village if I needed anything while Alan was at work for two days. I got into the lock and it drained down like usual before I exited the lock.

This was the second painful part. Our tiller is slightly too long I think. This was never been an issue though I had wanted to get it shortened. The canal turns a bit to the right coming out of the lock and we are a long boat. Just as I was coming out of that first lock of the day my tiller handle caught on the lock gate pulling it backwards. I instinctually tried to free the tiller rather than get the fuck out of the way. The tiller sprung back with great force like an overstretched rubberband being released striking my right wrist.

Much screaming ensued. Kat came out to see what happened and was immediated given the tiller. She has had almost no instruction in helming as work has gotten in the way. I did my best to tell her what to do and managed the throttle with my left hand. She did a great job of getting us to the lock landing and Alan pulled us in. Kat examineed my wrist which did not look broken at all. There were no safe moorings on this side of the lock and turning around was not an option so I put on a wrist brace and continued on to Kintbury. Seven locks and 5 miles later we were mooring up on a safe mooring in Kintbury. I asked to go to the hospital as I knew I needed an x-ray. Alan needed to get the car and drive Kat to work in Milton Keynes 2 hours away first. At this point I also cooked a stir-fry for lunch while K got ready for work and Alan got ready to cycle back for the car.

Almost 12 hours after the accident I finally got to the hospital and had my x-ray. I have a hairline fracture to the end of my right radius right in the joint. I was given a wrist brace that didn’t fit me by the Great Western Hospital in Swindon and told to wait for a call from the fracture clinic to see a specialist. No other instructions. No pain relief. Just an ill fitting brace that either gives no support or cuts off my circulation.

I do have wrist braces due to chronic wrist pain for unknown reasons so I am just using those as they fit properly and support well. I have looked up information about my injury and gather the brace might be all the treatment I get but we will see. It is now Tuesday and I am still waiting for a call about getting treatment.

Oh and we are also currently in a heatwave. Temperatures in the 90s F (mid-30s C) and I am in a metal tube in a rather warming wrist brace with no air conditioning and no fans. I can’t even really manage my hand held fan because it is designed to be waved with the right hand. I am feeling so very, very done with cruising, with summer and with being off grid right now. So so far on the way home I have broken my head, broken my wrist, and am now beng roasted to death. Happy boating!

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