Watford Check In. 1st July

Crick to Welton Hythe

P1060733smA parcel we’d had sent c/o of Lizzie hadn’t arrived this morning, hopefully it will catch up with us as we couldn’t afford to wait till Tuesday (the marina office is closed Mondays). So once we’d got our Saturday Newspaper we were ready to push off and Lizzie was ready to hitch a ride. Mick slowed Oleanna right down as we passed NB Panda so that Lizzie could step aboard and off we set to Cracks Hill to wind and then return. The view of the hill is filled with fat green trees and the hill itself looks quite parched and brown after the long spell of dry weather.

P1060745smBack past the marina and we got our last view of Lillian’s yellow, hopefully our paths will cross in the future. A boat had just pulled out from the ABNB pool on a demonstration, but the bridge hole was ours so they got a demonstration of how the boat reversed. In full tunnel mode we followed another boat through Crick tunnel, nothing coming towards us. Once through Lizzie was offered a turn at the helm, excluding the chaps at Finesse she is the third person to steer her. Oleanna behaved well and was complimented, Lizzie has been driving boats virtually all her life.

P1060747smP1060749smAs we pulled up above the Watford flight it was obvious we would be joining a queue. There were four boats ahead of us and the first was just entering the top lock to go down. With plenty of hands at the ready I put the kettle on and we had a cuppa whilst we waited our turn. Another boat arrived behind us and the crew kept heading to the top lock to help boats go down. Our turn came and before Mick could give the okay a paddle was being wound up, another enthusiastic crew at Watford! The boat ahead of us was still going down in the first chamber of the staircase, so instead of being able to use the water from our lock to fill the next one it was going to waste. Once the lock had equalised we opened the gates and Mick was ushered out to have to wait in the short pound before the staircase.

One of the volunteer lockies helped me fill the top of the staircase and made a comment that the boat behind us hadn’t booked in with them and therefore shouldn’t be entering the top lock! There were boats waiting to come up and we should have been the last going down! He walked up to have a word, there would be no rushing us in the staircase.

P1060752smMick gave me the thumbs up once in the top chamber, but we still had to wait for the boat ahead  to clear the chamber below and close the gates, otherwise I’d have started to fill it again for them. Once down and starting to move into the second chamber the chap behind looked like he was about to wind the first red paddle up, so I shouted up to him to wait! Lizzie helped mostly with opening and closing gates and grimacing at the chap behind.

P1060755smThe lockies today were making use of the two pounds at the bottom of the flight to hold waiting boats in. The first pound had one boat in it, the second had two. At the bottom of the staircase someone had already reset the next lock for us and opened the gate. At the next and final lock there were so many windlasses, ours weren’t needed so we hopped back on board.

P1060760smP1060762smExiting we could see that there was quite a queue waiting to go up, but as we progressed the line of boats just kept going and going! Twelve boats in all were waiting to go up and there were tales of canal rage! Each and every person we passed wanted us to say that we were the last coming down. I wonder how long the wait was.

As we progressed along the pound towards the junction we were being caught up. The wake from the boat behind breaking on the banks. Lizzie grimaced again! There was something around the prop and it was now past lunch time so we pulled in opposite Welton Hythe and let the boat behind pass, we won’t be seeing them again as they are heading to London. Once tied up we decided to stay put for the day. Pushing on further wouldn’t get us to the chandlers before they shut in Braunston anyway. So the doors were opened up and Tilly disappeared into the sideways trees without saying hello to Lizzie!

P1060766smA green boat approached and as she got nearer it was obvious that it was NB Winding Down. The chap on the bow wasn’t familiar, neither really was the chap at the tiller, but we said hello. A lady popped out from below and said she wondered if they’d see us. Lindsey thank you for your email just now, as I thought it was you. Have a good time on the Nene, sadly you won’t see us on your way back as we are heading northwards. Glad that we got to see WD at last this year.

After lunch Lizzie jumped ship and walked up to the junction to get a lift back home. Tilly has spent the rest of the day terrorising the local wildlife and Mick has had a grade 2 haircut and is now enjoying the breeze whilst reading the Saturday paper sat out on the towpath. All calm now, just the masses to deal with again tomorrow in Braunston.

DSCF7114sm7 locks, 5.79 miles, 1 wind, 1 hitchhiker, 1 boat too hot on our tail, 5 going down, 12 waiting to come up, 1 bottle fizz on ice (thank you Lizzie), 1 WD, 5 hours of freedom, grade 3, 6.15 first boat down.