Sunday, 7 September 2014

Storming a tunnel, then pausing for a boat viewing.

(Boat Sickle & Chalice - posted by Alan)
Very retrospective post for Friday 29th August. 

Not a lot to report, really.

If we are going North from, or returning South to, the home mooring for either boat then the Grand Union South of Norton Junction is the route involved.  As a consequene we normally travel the stretch we were on today many times a year.

Straight in for a very rapid passage of Blisworth tunnel.
What will always vary, though, is our rate of progress.  With a clear run, not stuck behind anyone, we can usually whip along quite fast.  However at other times rapid progress becomes impossible  This doesn't just apply in terms of catching up slower moving boats on the long lock-less pounds - it applies even more to passages through the lock flights, and even the long tunnels.

Today we wanted to make good progress, but had established that an historic boat that has now been on the open market a few weeks was still unsold.  It is normally in the area we would pass through, and as it might match sufficiently what we have been looking for for a while, I had arranged to view it as we passed through Blisworth.

In fact, on arrival at Blisworth a call to the owner established that it was after all still at Stoke Bruerne, and had not been moved North through the tunnel as they had planned. So, we set off again with both boats.

Now at this time of year, it is fairly unusual to get an unimpeded run through Blisworth tunnel, but as I approached there was a clear view through, with no other boat in it.  This is a situation to be exploited with "Sickle" - because of the "bow swings right when stopping" characteristic described in yesterday's posting, things can get interesting when you finally see past someone's blinding headlight that they are nowhere near their side of the tunnel, and hence you don't have room to pass.  But today nobody came in, and I could really ind the speed wheel right up.  Whilst this may sound a bit extreme, another advantage is "Sickle's" engine smokes less when worked harder, so you are less asphyxiated by fumes if you are not forced to go through a tunnel slowly.  I incidentally know how long I took, and frankly am doubtful of some of the more exorbitant claims I have seen from others about particularly fast timings - they certainly could not be achieved with "Sickle", and "Sickle" is a fairly brisk boat.

"It has fitted at least twice before", the owner tells us.
We stopped and easily found moorings for both boats in the "tunnel pound" at Stoke Bruerne.  The moorings here that are supposed to have been so problematic to find space in always seem to have more than ample space available.  We made arrangements to view the boat after a lunch at the boat - as the owner was working just a few days away, that worked well for all concerned.

We very much liked many of the elements of the boat we viewed - much of which would have worked well for us.  However quite a bit of it was in poorly neglected condition, (as we knew it would be), and to sort out properly looked a large and expensive project.  We took lots of pictures, and went away to think about it, and do a bit more research.

CRT might waste less electricity if they didn't run the back-pumps excessively.
A largely quick passage down the locks followed, although we were briefly delayed when someone tried to turn a 59' 6" boat below the second lock down, and got stuck.  Having turned "Chalice" at nearly ten feet shorter there recently, I was surprised near 60 foot was possible, but the owner assurred us he had managed it a couple of times previously, although the spot chosen had to be precise.  Anyway, on this occasion, he decided the audience saw too large, so we helped free him from his jammed position, and he moored up having not yet turned.

We have recently discovered that a spot a couple of bridges down from the locks provides a good overnight mooring, and, not wishing to press on longer, tied up there.

Weedon to Grafton Regis 
Miles:  13.4 (Chalice), 13.4 (Sickle), Locks: 7

Total Miles: 829.5, Locks: 527

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