Monday, 29 August 2011

Another Bank Holiday Weekend Day - And More Queues.

(Boat Chalice - posted by Alan)

We were now very much on one of our standard runs for Chalice's home moorings.  Braunston is an obvious stopover, and typically we will then stop at Blisworth or Stoke Bruerne the next day, with our final on-board night being somewhere like Fenny Stratford or Stoke Hammond.

The second time we have passed "Dorado" on our trip.
To get from Braunston to Stoke Bruerne in a day is relatively easy if there are no hold-ups, but this was a Bank Holiday Monday, and we made a very relaxed start from Braunston.  After the procession of boats past ours before we moved, we were not surprised to find several boats stacked up waiting passage through the bottom lock of the Braunston flight.

Whilst we were waiting we were treated to the sight of some young men on a pair of "Saisons" hire boats using their pole to push forcefully of the wooden cabins of some moored boats, with obvious damage being done.  We looked at their smashed off tunnel light to, and wondered how they would be tackling the tunnel ahead.  Curiously they asked if they would be able to get their boats in the locks together - this seemed a bit odd, as they must have already come through the 13 locks they were about to tackle in the other direction.  For some reason the two boats stopped sharing locks at one point, and we ended up in a lock with them - an arrangement that fortunately didn't last long when a boat ahead saw us coming, and re-opened bottom gates to let us in!

We see some highly skilled hire boaters very regularly on our travels, but occasionally you get a set that are an accident waiting to happen.  This lot were in the latter category.

These fenders struggle to fit anywhere at all.
At Long Buckby we were queing again.  One of the boats in front was sporting the most oversized set of fenders we have yet seen on a narrow boat.  These visibly were starting to jam it in the lock with a second boat as they descended, and we advised both boats it looked dodgy to proceed with these fenders down.  By the next lock they were parked on the roof.

Out of harm's way!
In fact by a few locks we were sharing with this boat, owned by a delightful couple who had literally just bought it, and starting to take it home.  Apparently they also sail, and assumed that similar fenders were sensible on a canal boat.  The husband was very enthusiastic and keen to learn, but his wife was clearly finding lock work very taxing, and didn't want to handle the boat.  They said they only needed to be at Apsley by the end of Friday - I wish them well, but think they may need a lot of assistance to meet that target, knowing just how many locks there are once past Leighton Buzzard.

Blisworth tunnel - nearly out.
By now we were looking at a late a arrival at Stoke Bruerne, and that was before we stopped for fuel at Stowe Hill, and also found a queue there, having to wait whilst two other boats were filled and the paperwork done.  By the time we left, Dominic, the owner, said Stoke Bruerne was an ambitious target before nightfall.  I'm pleased to say we made it easily, greatly helped by a completely clear passage of Blisworth Tunnel.  I have no idea how "about 23 minutes" figures in the tunnel "hall of fame", but given the hot oil smell as we emerged, I don't think I would have liked to have pushed it any faster!

We had vowed that Braunston would be our last meal out, but after arriving as late as we did, Cath said she really didn't fancy cooking, and "the Boat" ended up providing us with some really rather good food.

Braunston to Stoke Bruerne
Miles: 20.6, Locks: 13

Total Miles: 382.3, Total Locks: 363

1 comment:

  1. Well done on your Blisworth tunnel passage. I always think of the section in Tim Wilkinsons book 'Hold on a minute', where he describes taking on a boatmans son as a third hand (on a motor boat and butty). The experienced hand just dives into the tunnel with the throttle wide open, and Tim, on the butty, is left to rattle off the walls until he sorts himself out.

    I enjoy your blog, and have noted how you no longer comment on any extra effort required to steer Sickle, by which I conclude you have either got stronger, or, more likely, have become more adept at (unconsciously) reading the bed of the canal, and letting the boat follow the channel, instead of trying to force it on the 'Chalice line' all the time, which is what I suspect you were doing when you first took on Sickle.

    Keep up reporting the fun times, please!