Wednesday, 28 June 2017
Tuesday, 27 June 2017
Monday, 26 June 2017
Broadoak Bridge to Barley Mow, Cosgrove
We are starting to play leapfrog with the speedy boat from yesterday and Anne’s boat. Anne’s boat (as it has Anne’s name on the side, Mick’s sister) is normally moored at Cassio Wharf and we consider to be the last truly shiny boat before London. They passed us this morning whilst we were having breakfast, so we took a bit more time before we set off as the first bit of our cruise today would be the Soulbury Three Locks.
As we approached it looked like a group were about to make camp just above the locks, there were poles coming out of bags, but as I walked up the shape being formed was that of a canoe. We keep seeing these collapsable canoes and they are quite ingenious, no need for a roof rack just a bit of time to assemble them.
It seemed to be busy at the locks, no volunteers on duty, but there was a narrowboat coming up in the last lock being followed by a widebeam. A chap from the narrowboat said that the pounds between the three chambers were well down and the following widebeam didn’t know what they were doing. He was right the pound below the top lock was very low and about to become even lower as the next lock down was filled. So Mick and I decided to empty the top lock, to give them a chance of getting across without having to try to pass us. They were a bit bemused by an empty lock and us waiting above, but the chap at the helm was having enough difficulty steering as it was, giving the lock entrance a very large biff. There was an 83 year old Dad on the stern being taken for a jaunt and two daughters in the cabin who were screaming everytime the boat
hit touched anything. However the lady with it seemed more concerned that the contents of her coke can didn’t get spilt when moving the lock gates!
Once they were out of the way we made our way down quietly and calmly. A few gongoozlers were already about and a chap taking a breather on his run helped open and close some gates for me. On the moorings below the locks were two familiar boats. As we passed we both doffed our caps and said thank you for our cratch repairs, we wished we’d had a few flowers that we could have left on the roof of Allan’s boat.
Onwards now to Stoke Hammond Lock. A boat was just coming into the lock with incredibly loud MEOWing going on. Their cat had managed to get out onto the roof of the boat and was scared so shouting it’s head off! Once safely back inside they started to lock up. Next Fenny Stratford Lock where we topped up with water and then pulled up for lunch. NB Freespirit was up ahead but nobody was onboard. We waved as we went by as we did to the lady in her house. Now we had the eleven mile pound that goes round Milton Keynes. I like some bits of this journey, but found important things to do below. The skies were getting darker and inside I was considering turning on the lights even though it was only 5pm.
By Bridge 74 we pulled over. Mick had spotted on Briar Rose’s blog that there was a Council Tip nearby. With a couple of services worth of oil on board and the remains of oily bilge water from Lillian’s engine bay taking up too much space Mick did a couple of journeys to dispose of it all. Despite there being a sign at the gate saying no pedestrian access the chap there had no problems with Mick turning up wheeless. On the second trip the heavens opened, but only for a short period, not enough time to get a soaking.
The approach to Cosgrove Lock takes you over the Ouse Aqueduct where far below cows were paddling in the shallow water. Up ahead we could see a Wyvern Hire boat lining up for the lock, today we’ve seen just as many of these blue boats as any others, our estimate when we passed through Leighton Buzzard the other day was that at least 22 boats were out. We were a long way off so not surprised when they didn’t wait for us. Anne’s boat and the speedy one were moored amongst the long line that we trundled past. Mr Anne’s Boat chatted out of his side hatch as we passed, suspect we’ll be seeing them again in the morning.
6 locks, 16.8 miles, 1 can of coke with a tipple added?! 3 big bangs, 1 almost empty pound, 2 caps doffed, 1 less gentleman on the cut, 1 roof riding cat, 1 full water tank, 1 blogging boat, 0 one home, 11 long miles, 4 bottles oil, 1 large bottle of erggh, 2 paddling cows, 1 life history, 2 helpers, 1 late finish, 1 depressed cat.
Sunday, 25 June 2017
Margees Garden to Broadoak Bridge 109
Yesterday evening a swan that had been sitting on her nest a month ago in the bottom of Alison and Laura’s garden brought her babies along to meet us. Still quite small, the cute factor enhanced by them still being so fluffy. I apologised to Mum that I had nothing for them, but would defrost some peas for the morning. So when Mick had headed off for a newspaper this morning they headed over to see what goodies I had. Mum let her youngsters dive for the peas whilst she watched, she wasn’t interested, maybe some white sliced would have been more appealing. But then if this was a swan that knew Laura I suspect it would have a far superior pallet. The cygnets ducked and dived to retrieve the peas (which all wanted to sink) and all ended up with spiky hair dos.
With breakfast consumed we pushed off and soon approached Seabrook Swing Bridge which was open, well almost. We paused for me to jump off to try to close it, but a boat was following, so we left it for them to close and went ahead to set the lock. The next three locks were set against us, but with partners we soon had them filled and cruised on down. Below Seabrook Bottom Lock our partners winded and then were going to reverse back to their mooring. The wind had picked up today so this would take them a bit of doing.
At the Ivinghoe Locks I could see a boat approaching and the lock was in their favour, so I pushed open the bottom gate and waited for them. This was all I did to help as on board there was a troop of scouts, so plenty to work the lock and open gates. They were out for the weekend and when asked if they were enjoying it one replied he liked sleeping on the boat, although they had only this morning discovered barriers that they could pull up to stop them from falling out of their narrow bunk beds! They were going to see how far they could get, possibly the Wendover Arm, before they had to turn to head home. The next lock being in our favour we headed down and as we were finishing a boat appeared below, so I could leave the gates.
Approaching Slapton Lock the world got busier. A boat was on the water point just through the bridge and two were waiting. We joined with one of them down the lock. They used to have a mooring here and had planted all the shrubs which were looking good and very much looked after. They were coming down to the lower pound as the one above had dropped somewhat, but both pounds looked as they had done when we were heading southwards a month ago, quite low. We stopped for some food in amongst the boats, not able to get our stern in, but that didn’t matter, just so long as we could get off when we wanted to.
Church Lock had both it’s bottom gates open, was this due to the wind? No, someone was coming up. Two single handing ladies brought their boats into the lock. One a Sea Otter (small aluminium boat) and the other what looked like a 70’s style cruiser. I helped them up and chatted to the lady on the cruiser. They were on their way to London. Normally when people say this they mean that they are going to join the masses of shufflers living on the Paddington and Regents Canal, but these two ladies were out for the summer from Ripon, both in their 70’s. They’d left in April and were due back at the end of August.
As they were rising we were joined at speed by a narrowboat who just about managed to pull in on the off side. As the ladies pulled out from the lock, Mick gestured for them to go in, but they were waiting for another boat that appeared soon afterwards. We worked our way down and as we got near to opening the bottom gates crew came from the speedy boat and sat on the top gate waiting to refill it. When Mick mentioned that there was a boat waiting to come up, she returned to her boat to wait. Nothing like lending a hand and getting to chat to others, making your wait shorter, oh well, it takes allsorts.
Grove Lock was empty and with an approaching boat I opened the gates for them, might as well save water. The boat came in at such a lick that the lady at the front had no chance of stepping off to help. She finally managed to step off when the lock was nearly full. A procession of people and their dogs then wanted to cross the top gates, each dog having to be carried over separately in turn. The boat was after a pump out at the marina but that meant a wide beam needed to move, which it did aided by the strong wind after Mick had brought Oleanna into the lock. The lady from the narrowboat walked to climb on board her boat, but the chap said he’d pick her up on the service mooring. She then crossed the gates and waited behind a set of railings that didn’t allow her access to the services just as her boat was blown right back to the other side infront of the widebeam. As we were going down I could see that the chap had managed to get his stern over to the services and was starting to pull the boat in just as the speedy boat from before arrived above the lock, thankfully managing to stop before ploughing into everyone! To add to the mayhem a young lady was trying to cross the top gates with her toddler in her arms. We were glad to be away from it all.
A quick stop to stock up on suncream from Aldi and some perishables from Tescos before we were on our way again. One last lock for the day stopping with a view of the West Coast Main Line, we should have carried on to the Soulbury Three, but we didn’t fancy going through with a crowd of Saturday afternoon drinkers gongoozling, so that has been left for tomorrow morning before the pub opens.
Once moored up, my brothers old T square came out from storage (I knew it would have another use) and had inches over 2ft marked on it. Our mooring wasn’t deep enough for us to get the end of it under Oleanna’s hull. so Mick slid it down the side until it touched the edge of the base plate. This gave us our current draught, a more accurate measurement than using the boat hook. At the moment we exceed the depth for the Ribble Link, but we are hoping that this will be sorted by Finesse as we know we shouldn’t be quite so low in the water. Another phone call with Bridget and Storm from NB Blackbird who had also been measured today. We decided to go ahead and the two of us clicked through the booking pages on the C&RT site. As we both read out that our passage was confirmed Bridget said “Oh what have we done!” No going back now!! Later on we also booked a week in Liverpool. North here we come.
10 locks, 9.04 miles, 4 shared, 100 floz of peas, 6 spiky heads, 2 single handing ladies, 10 scouts, 1 queue, 3 dogs, 1 toddler, 2 bottles suncream, 2 lots mushrooms, 1 more late finish! 1 week Liverpool, 1 month Lancaster Canal, 2 slightly nervous boaters, 1 oblivious cat.
Saturday, 24 June 2017
Berko to Margees Garden, Cheddington Bridge
Time to get going but first to fill the water tank. This is the emptiest it’s been, an exclamation mark had come on on the gauge! With wanting to use the dish washer and washing machine we needed water sooner rather than later so nothing for it but to reverse back to the water point. We pushed off and despite the strong breeze and aided by the bow thruster Mick took us backwards in one go, like cutting butter with a hot knife. Once the hose was filling the tank you could hear just how empty it was.
With the dishwasher on drying mode the washing machine could go on and had done it’s first fill before we pushed off again. Good job the water pressure was good here. Onwards and upwards. First the Gas Locks, both were full and I could see a boat at the top, so I opened the top gates and we waited for them to come down. The by wash was running furiously which caused a bit of a problem with the two boats coming down. A discussion had been had that the day boat should go first as they were continuing, he’d spotted the by wash, but then didn’t move. The other boat then started to leave the lock, all it’s crew were on board then joined by the day boat who had to stop to pick up crew. The bywash pushed both boats over towards our bow leaving little room for manoeuvring. Eventually everyone was back on the right boats and heading away from the lock, peace returned. Upwards for us.
At the second lock the Lockie from the other day appeared. The pound we’d got stuck in two days ago was low again, so he was letting water down from the top. Today he had no help as all the other lockies were helping to erect an aluminium bridge on the Aylesbury arm. So he was working his way up and down the locks between Cowroast and Hemel to restore the levels. As soon as we were through he emptied the lock. Next lock up he appeared again as if by teleport. We waved our goodbyes and thanked him for the other day. At Northchurch Lock there was one coming down and another waiting above, both looked narrow, so I didn’t understand why they weren’t sharing. Once we were up I asked if they needed both gates open, no umming from this lady, ‘Both please, we’re eight foot wide’. Too wide to share and only an extra foot more space for all the extra work.
We could see that Dudswell Bottom Lock had boats in it as we approached, not sure which way they were facing I walked up to see if I could help. NB Nomad and NB Goblin were sat in the lock almost at the top, but all gates and paddles were closed. The two chaps were pawing over a Nicholsons and in deep discussion. When they noticed me they were apologetic and got ready to move their boats out of our way. I went up to open the gates, but they had been there so long that the level had dropped by at least a eighteen inches! They apologised again and I was told I was a hero, ‘Just don’t do it again at the next one!’
They moved on up and I reset the lock for us. By the time we were up and moving along the pound I could see that there was only one of the boats in the lock, blimey only two locks to the summit, but how long would this take us! However one boat was stopping for some lunch and the other was waiting for us. Up the last two locks in no time and on the summit pound, where we decided to stop for some lunch ourselves. NB Nomad carried on with the aim of stopping at Marsworth tonight. Our aim was similar but after a phone call from the agents who look after our house, we decided that we should get a move on as a visit to Scarborough would be needed next week, meaning we’d loose another days cruising.
Across the three mile top and we started our descent down the other side. I would set the lock, open a gate and then leave Mick to start coming down so that I could walk ahead to set the next lock, returning to let him and Oleanna out and close the lock behind. I’d then leapfrog and set the next one down. After three locks we had caught up with NB Nomad. I carried on going ahead to set the next chamber as the boys brought themselves down and opened one gate, I then returned to close that behind them. Mr Nomad was pleased with his locking partners and as everyone was doing their bit I reckon we got down the flight quicker than if we’d been on our own.
We carried on wanting to get a bit further along before stopping for the day and waved goodbye to NB Nomad. The bell ringers were starting to practice as we passed the village, the sound being swept along by the stiff breeze. We’d already had to put an extra layer on! Down the last two locks of the day we meandered along for half a mile more and then pulled up at the bottom of the Margees garden. Here we were ahead of our selves and could get a Saturday paper in the morning before setting off again.
This evening we’ve been in conversation with Bridget and Storm with the aim of booking our passage to cross the Ribble Link. On C&RT’s booking page neither of our boats had our draughts marked. We both put in the dimensions we thought that we were, but these were both too deep to make the booking! We will both double check how deep we are and reconvene tomorrow to hopefully make our booking. Reading up on it lots of people say they have managed fine being deeper than the recommended depth. Fingers crossed!!!
16 locks, 7.84 miles, 6 locks shared, 6 water riding cygnets, 1 dog pooh incident, 2 wrongs don’t make a right! 1 nice lockie, 1
beautiful UGLY cat! 1 grey day, 2 boats hogging a lock, 2 jumpers, 1 house needing it’s owners, 2 boaters now on a mission, 2 annoyed blackbirds, 4 cute baby blackbirds, 0 friends thankfully.