Sunday, 9 September 2012

Lots More Boats Moving Today - A Popular Canal

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)

Despite a few issues yesterday, we had progressed far enough that getting to our planned target of Braunston today should not be a major problem.  That said, I normally tend to be awake and up early enough, without an alarm, but today somehow slept through quite a bit later than usual - it was not going to be an early start!

Leaving the short Newbold Tunnel
If we thought we had had issues yesterday, today's problems looked far more serious! Cath had firmly believed when she had been shopping that we still had some filter coffee in reserve, but as soon as it came to coffee making time, it was obvious we had all but run out.  We put up with many basic necessities, even some deprivations, when boating with Sickle, but regularly made cafetieres of fairly genuine coffee are something we don't generally compromise on.  It would now have to be just tea, for a while, and that doesn't really hack it for me!

Moored (well almost) awaiting coffee supplies.
What you can never be sure of on the Northern Oxford, is just how many other boats may be out and about on their travels.  This particularly applies on a sunny Sunday, where the many miles of almost lock-free cruising attract out lots of people that are probably the type that only go out for a day, or maybe the weekend, but seldom go long distance boating.  Some of these prefer to amble along very slowly - not an issue if they allow those who prefer to travel a bit faster to come past, but it can be really quite frustrating when they do not.   And why, oh why, do experienced boaters make you follow them for miles along long straight stretches where passing is a doddle, only to finally wave you past just as you are approaching moored boats, (for which you should be slowing down, not speeding up!), or a blind bend ?

........and opposite a pub, but no time to visit it!
Added to the pile are "day boats", often hired out to people with zero experience, and apparently very little training given by many of the places offering these boats.  They can be seen weaving about on days like today, and will occasionally choose to place themselves diagonally across the cut in front of you, precisely at places here there is no apparent reason why they should!  Sickle's brakes were severely tested at one point today when the chap wearing the cheap plastic "Captain" hat, (why do so many go for this!),  decided to pull a stunt that really could not have been predicted!

Anyway we dodged and dived around most of the obvious hazards, and made surprisingly good progress, considering at one point we were at the tail of about a five boat convoy.  We made only one stop, near Rugby, to get that very much needed caffeine supply, (letting a couple of dayboats past during our stop, unfortunately!).

At Braunston one of those regular coincidences occurred - just as we had tied up, our friends Mike and Polly happened to pass on the boat "Reginald", so pulled up for a chat before carrying on.  In fact our departure by car from Braunston ended up a lot later than we thought it might be, and we still needed to go back to Alvecote for the other car.

Why do sheep that were random, all take off the same way for no obvious reason ?
Alvecote had already been the scene of some drama this weekend, because, after we had left it yesterday, there had apparently been a significant fire, which unconfirmed reports say may have been deliberately started by someone.  Not content with that, as we arrived there, an emergency ambulance was just arriving.  It transpired a boater we know had fallen into the hold of one of the working boats there, and badly damaged at least her leg.  Some considerable moving of boats and ingenuity was required to get things to the point the woman involved could be lifted from the hold of the boat by several strong men, and across the decked front of another boat.  Details of who was involved have not yet been made public by the family, so I'll respect their privacy here, but some subsequent inquiries have revealed she needed an operation yesterday because of a badly smashed knee, and is likely to need a very long recovery period.  We wish her well, and await some hopefully positive news about her progress.

Ansty (Northern Oxford Canal) to Braunston (Grand Union Canal)
Miles: 18.7, Locks: 3
Total Miles: 542.7, Locks: 315 (Worked)
(I'm treating the delayed return of Sickle as part of the overall summer trip with both boats).

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