Friday 24th September 2010
Weather – Rain showers overcast and very breezy – Day 13
Thunder and lightening during the night, heavy rain and drizzle when we woke up – not promising! Also a day to change
over and meet the Community Boat Pisces that had travelled up from Hillingdon during the previous week. Quite a different experience for the back up kayakers – Lancelot was probably up to the best hire boat standards – and all credit to the London Project for maintaining it as so. Pisces is a 75 year old working boat with a quite amazing chequered history working during the war as a London Docklands Fire tender for example.
That’s not to say Pisces is tatty, just well worn after years of service to the community – she was a trip boat for BW for some years too. More about the crew (Jen, Roy, Bob and Eddie) later – again a fascinating wealth of experience on the deep sea as well as the canals.
So, all the gear stowed and it was farewells to Chris and Di (subsequently heard that PJ and Steve had had a big fried breakfast send-off from Di – while Justin plugged in a new bag of, well, white liquidy stuff!
Delivery of Justin’s feed preceded our entrance into the first of some 70 wide locks during this week to the finish, well his finish, I have to turn round and do the whole thing in reverse! The few locks up to the Braunston Tunnel meant we carried the kayaks on the roof as the guys are not allowed to paddle in the tunnel. Just as well! This was my own first experience of doing a canal tunnel with two way traffic and how stressful! Stevo was on the back with me and started the entrance but as the first of eight boats came towards us he quickly suggested I have it back. The weirdest thing seeing a headlight coming towards you is trying to judge how far away it is – apart firm knowing that the boat will be 7ft wide and mine is the same and the width of the tunnel will be about 15ft – the rest is chance. We did pretty well on the first six passing’s, but on the seventh the boat coming towards me got caught out with a slight change in contour of his portside wall which forced his nose out into my front port side. Probably a combined impact of 2 mph but still quite a jolt! No one to blame, no one hurt and a bit of a scratch on the rubbing strip was all that was evident! The guys on the front must have felt I was jinxed in tunnels!
Anyway off they went and soon we arrived at the 7 lock Buckby flight – we were on our way downwards again. Slow windy process with lots of moving boats up and down but after nearly two hours we wee down and on for the lock free run to The Wharf Inn at Bugbrooke – not far from the large Stowe Hill Marina.
Needless to say the kayakers had arrived some two hours before us and Jane had secured showers for each of them from the pub manager Richard, who had turfed his chef out of his room to accommodate them – you know what they say “if you don’t ask……”
A good night on the boat afterwards with a very tasty chilli and rice.