Friday, 9 August 2013

A Day Where We Took On Too Much. (Not Very relaxing!).

(Boats Chalice and Sickle together - posted by Alan)

Odin will generally wait at locks quite patiently.
Let me start by admitting this was probably not our most auspicious days of boating ever!  We normally would treat Stoke Bruerne to Braunston as a typical days boating, but because it includes both the Buckby and Braunston flights of locks it can often be very hard to predict a likely timing.  Both these flights can get busy, and if you encounter slow crews, the time to pass through a flight can easily be double what you might achieve if you had a clear run at them.

I would have turned the engine off if I knew how long a wait I would have here!
Today we underestimated how long things might take, compounded by us not really appreciating how much slower we ourselves would be with two boats.  Additionally the fact that we were moored overnight still two locks down the Stoke Bruerne flight added to the time needed, and after we failed to make an early start we quickly found ourselves slowed by other boats

David brings "Chalice" out of Blisworth tunnel
One further thing that is making a big difference to our days is that if Cath and I boat alone with one boat we don't tend to actually stop for lunch, and simply carry on with one steering whilst the other prepares food, and then eat on the move.  That doesn't work with two boats and three crew, as whoever is alone on a boat has nobody there to get on with things as they are steering.  So we have made a point of having proper stops for lunch, (something we are likely to do more now Cath is retired, and we can be more relaxed).

Exchanging locks with two other boats at Buckby
You have probably guessed by now that as the day progressed we slipped further and further behind any timings necessary to arrive in Braunston at a reasonable hour!  The one thing that did go swimmingly well was both tunnels, and we didn't encounter a single other boat in either Blisworth or Braunston.  This is almost unheard of in August, but was most welcome, and we fair blasted through both!

More waiting! - Below Buckby Top lock
That was probably the only bit that went well, and at Whilton/Buckby locks we had a series of slight mishaps, losing some of the paint from Chalice's newly repainted stern, but also a piling hook, and even the keeper off the Sea Searcher magnet that we actually failed to find the piling hook with!  This is somewhat of a first, usually if you drop a large steel object in, and know where it went in, a Sea Searcher will find it.  We did even wonder if it got moved by the flow of water in a short pound, as the locks were being worked, although such an explanation seems a bit unlikely!
It is fair to say these locks were not well worked by us, as we struggled to operate with less than our usual unwritten clear understanding of who was doing what!

"Sickle" viewd from "Chalice" just leaving Braunston Tunnel
A late arrival in Braunston was now inevitable, and a dash through the tunnel didn't change things that much.  We were then greeted by a boater from further down the flight who told us there were "several pounds with very little water in them", and who wanted to run water down, and seemed a bit put out that anybody wanted to boat down!  By the time we arrived in the allegedly problematic pounds, we could see nothing seriously wrong with any of them, so quite why this chap thought a lot more water was needed was lost on us.  I really must learn to ignore these horror stories from other boaters - so often they turn out to be heavily exaggerated!

Another "leaving tunnel" shot - Braunston again.
The final straw was not being able to find any moorings in Braunston, with the light already fading, along with any hopes of a pub meal!  We tried to moor right near the marina entrance, but although this is used for moorings in the historic boat events, underwater obstructions prevented us.  I boated right up to Braunston Turn with "Sickle", and might have found her a slot, but certainly nothing for the longer "Chalice", so I turned and came back.  Whilst we deliberated on whether we could squeeze in near the sanitary and water facilities the occupants of a hire boat saw our predicament, and offered to move up to create more space.  This was much appreciated at a time we were all badly over-tired!  In fact in the morning it transpired they were now on somebody's permanent mooring, but that had not been obvious in the fading light.  Anyway no harm done, as we were all going to be away quickly in the morning.

We made a firm decision that tomorrow would be planned to be a much shorter day!

"Long Pound", Stoke Bruerne to Braunston
Miles: 22.3 (Each Boat), Locks: 15

Total Miles: 94.7, Locks: 36

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