Welton Hythe to Rowdyke Bridge 82
After today I now fully understand why some people don’t move at weekends. Busy or what!
We pushed off a little after 10am and stopped just before Norton Junction at the water point to top up the tank. Most of the boats that had moored around us yesterday had already moved on, others came past as we filled with water. An Anglowelsh boat slowly pootled past with 9 people on board, they had been boat 9 in the queue yesterday at Watford and had spent the night at Crick before returning, they were only out for a weekend. Another boat came past and winded at the junction just as we were ready to pull out, so we waited, then pushed out and turned right towards Braunston.
There was a boat light very near the entrance to the tunnel, so Mick pulled Oleanna over and waited for them to pass before we entered, easier doing it here than inside. It was obvious that there was another boat heading our way, but where would we pass them. Now knowing where the big kink in the tunnel is Mick slowed down hoping that they would pass it before we got there. But distances are very deceptive in tunnels, they didn’t seem to be getting any closer, we passed 100m, 200m, 300m and soon we’d be at the kink. Just after 400m there were the tell tale dints and scrapes on the tunnel walls where numerous boats have hit, we cruised past still with the boat ahead miles away. Eventually we passed him just past the halfway marker only to see another two boat lights in the distance ahead. Once they were passed we could see another boat ahead, going the same way as us, they must have been travelling very slowly.
By the time we reached the top of the locks we’d caught up with them, it was the hire boat with masses of crew. As I walked up to the lock I could see a boat coming out from the lock below and the hire boat were filling the lock! They really shouldn’t have done that, but the lady from the boat seemed okay about it, her husband on the boat however wasn’t! With so many people around a lock I get a bit nervous. No-one other than me checks that the helm is okay before starting to open the paddles, lots of chatting, is anyone keeping an eye on the bows going down making sure they don’t catch on the gates. I’m maybe a bit cautious, but still willing to have a chat whilst I keep an eye on the boats.
I headed down to the next lock to get it set whilst all the others finished above. We were following a single boat down and quite a few boats were also coming up, busy! There was no space to moor up after the pub above the last two locks, so I walked on ahead helping where I could, no-one had to do much! A couple of boats were heading up, once they passed us I could see Mick waving at me. He’d held back where two Black Prince boats were wanting to pull out, so he could jump into their mooring. Tied up we had some lunch before walking down to the chandlers. As locks were emptied and filled we bumped about so much, there was a constant stream of boats in both directions. One boat pulled up for lunch on the lock landing and was soon moved on by a lockie.
Last Sunday I’d rung Wharf House Chandlers to order some touch up paints for Oleanna. They order paints on a Monday so they should be in by Wednesday. However on Monday lunchtime they had left me a message that they had arrived, speedy or what! So whilst picking them up we decided to upgrade our anchor chain and rope in preparation for the Ribble Link. The rope we currently have is spliced together several times and the amount of chain we have isn’t really enough. So another length of chain and new rope purchased along with the paint our wallet was considerably lighter.
Time for the last two locks. So many boats heading down hill. Two went down and we agreed to join a share boat, only for another hire boat to appear from behind us. It was just easier to let them go ahead as Mick hadn’t pulled out yet. Three boats were waiting to go down the next lock, so no rush to go anywhere. There seemed to be no-one coming up, so we came down by ourselves to join the hire boat. The lockie helped on the off side, once the bottom gates were open he would walk round to give the canal a cursory look to see if anyone was coming up, he saw no-one. I however walked down through the bridge to see a couple of boats waiting, how long had they been there! Up they came.
Once down we managed to pass the hire boat. All the way to the marina was chock a block. We wanted to go further anyway. The toot of steam boat could be heard at every bridge ahead of us. By now it was too late to head to the butchers, so no bangers today! We carried onto the North Oxford, having to slow right down to gently cruise past a boat on the water point and two hotel boats moored opposite. Just through London Bridge there was the burnt out shell of a Sea Otter. These boats are made from aluminium and the damage done to the shell was appalling, burnt down to the water line in parts.
Out in the countryside lines of moored boats slowed our progress. Between bridges 81 and 82 there is the entrance to a new marina. A small pond already had boats moored in it, but heading northwards a huge marina stretches out along the side of the hill. Numerous pontoons are being constructed and the depth of the marina water will be getting on for at least six foot, this section not in water yet. Where will all the water come from to fill it? From the canal obviously, but they must have to wait for the winter months to bring levels up. Today the canal was very busy, just what will it be like once this and other new marinas open up? We will certainly be avoiding the area in the summer months if we can. That’s a shame, there’s loads of friends here!
6 locks, 7.78 miles, 1 right, 1 tunnel passing 3, 2 mysterons, 1 straight on, 1 full water tank, 4 hours down the locks, 1 sunny day, 3 tins paint, 15m rope, 4m chain, 1 splice, 0 bangers, 1 huge marina, 0 water, 3 friends, 87 pounces.