I don't know which is getting stiffer faster these days, lock paddle gear or my back. Most likely the one is the cause of the other I suppose. Anyhow I seem more often to strain what muscle I've got left when winding up some of the stiffer paddles down our way. So after consulting with my co-pilot we've agreed to splash out what seems a lorra lorra dosh on one of those Gowindlass ratchet windlasses. They seem a good bit smaller and lighter than the other one on the market (a bit less expensive too). The clinching argument is that we're not getting any younger so if it works it'll become more essential as time goes on. Ours is in the post and assuming it gets here in time we'll test it when we to get a bit of boating in next week so I'll let you know how well it works. If it saves me from pulled muscles it'll be worth it.
Following on from my recent posts about gate hopping (which most of my brave readers seem to do despite CRT's advice to the contrary) I'm going to try an experiment to see if I can avoid the need. The idea is to have a length of rope with a biggish fixed loop on one end which you drop over the free end of a lock gate before you push or kick it open from the other gate. Then you open the gate your side and the boat comes in or out, you shut your gate, then pull the far one shut with the rope. I'm a bit surprised I've never seen anyone do it. Perhaps because it doesn't work. Anyway I'm going to give it a shot and see how I get on. I'll probably strain my back and you can all have a laugh.