Then There Was One. 30th August

Houdini’s Field to Norton Junction

Tilly was still pooped from her freedom yesterday so we had a quiet breakfast without being pestered for some shore leave. Only a couple of boats had come past us before we pushed off, but as always one appeared just as we were about to untie. We waited for them to pass, two chaps who asked where the nearest shops were. Their speech was very loud yet a touch incoherent. Lizzie said thank goodness we’d be behind them as they engaged their dilithium crystals.

See you soon!

Time to say our farewells and leave Lizzie to the last of her Bank Holiday boat chores before she herself would be returning to Crick Marina. It’s been a lovely weekend and so nice to have a catch up at ease on the boats. Hopefully we’ll be seeing Lizzie later this week as some things for panto were being delivered to her work for me.

Conkers means schools about to start

We pushed off with the aim of reaching the top of Long Buckby and finding a space to moor there for our Sainsburys delivery. Fingers crossed there would be space for us and that we’d have an easy time at Watford with not too much queuing. Our maps suggested it would take us around five hours, plus a bit if we had to wait at the staircase, so we should arrive for a late lunch.

There they go managing to avoid collision with the bridge

However. The blue boat had exhausted the boost of power and now just seemed to be working on Guinness and Stellar! They zigzagged across the cut, one of them trying to do something with their chimney, it’s suspected that it got a big whack going through a bridge hole. Several times it looked like they might be pulling in to let us go past, but this was only so that they could ricochet off the towpath to back into the deeper water before passing into the shallows on the off side. Would we actually reach Watford before the locks would be locked up for the day (thankfully extended hours still in place after Crick show)?

See you sometime Cracks Hill

Then thankfully after about three quarters of an hour following them they managed to pull over just after Bridge 24, just after a moored boat, shortly before a winding hole and bend where of course a boat was just coming round! Mick engaged our lithium crystals and managed to pass them before there would be an awkward moment with the other boat. Back to normal cruising speed.

We think it’s the first time we’ve been through Crick without stopping for anything carrying on straight to the tunnel. Water proof coats and life jackets on we had the tunnel all to ourselves. The first 400ms are the wettest, I hoped my lovely clean roof would survive having an extra rinse. As we reached the southern portal the air grew misty, our lights creating search light beams onto the tunnel roof.

Could have been tenth not third

On to the top of Watford where we joined onto the back of a queue of 2 boats just nudging up to the top lock behind one going down. I hopped off to go and sign in with the Lockie. With a queue of boats below the flight we would have to wait, the two in front of us would go down, then boats would come up. Time for an early lunch.

Down the top lock

Once the first uphill boat had risen up the last single lock we were locked down to wait in the pound above the staircase, therefore using a lock full of water and getting the downhill queue one lock ahead.

to wait in the pound above the staircase

The next boat up the staircase didn’t sit well with the engine noise we could hear. A 57ft modern boat which would normally have a beta 43 sounded like an old work boat. This was because in the next chamber downhill there was a boat with a heart pounding thump, in fact it was a National DA2 built in 1949, only one of two thought to be in the UK. This was NB Hadar all 70ft of her, Keith at the helm and Jo working the paddles.

Hadar coming up

Mick helped with gates and chatted to Keith about Hadarford, the model railway in their hold, whilst I helped with the bottom gates of the top lock, closing them and emptying the lock ready for the next uphill boat.

Passing by

Six in all came up, then it was our turn to head down. Plenty of Lock Keepers were on hand to assist and we made it down the staircase and the final two locks in no time. There was a boat in each pound below and a queue of hopeful boats was forming beyond them.

We’d been glad of helping with the locks it had kept the days chill off, but now stood at the back of Oleanna it crept back in. At Norton Junction we turned left towards the top of the locks, but it was soon evident that there was no space for us.

Reversing to a mooring

We’d just passed a big gap by the water point before the junction so into reverse we went and backed ourselves around the corner. Tomorrow morning one of us will go and await our order with bags and a bike, so no need to cancel the order again.

They never let me out in Watford outside, the trees always look so good too!

7 locks, 4 a staircase, 9.88 miles, 1 tunnel, 0 mysterons, 3 to 2 to 1 boat left, 1 pissed boat, 2 fleeces, 4th in line, 6 coming up, 5 Lock Keepers, 1 left, 1 reversed left (or is that right?), 3 hours shore leave, 1 stove lit on a Bank Holiday weekend.