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Monday, 16 August 2010

Wellingborough back to Foxton

Monday 9th August and it was a glorious day, though a bit breezy. Not wishing to rush things it was 10.30 before we cast off, and rather belatedly decided to push on as Tuesday's forecast was poor. We had been told that the moorings at Cogenhoe were highly recommended & they looked good, though I was a little bit concerned about new posts erected alongside the bank, how easily they could hold "No Mooring" signs!! Perhaps I'm a pessimist, they might be going to hold signs saying "Please moor here"?

During the day we crossed with about 3 boats at locks and met another three between locks, so busy is the Nene with boats cruising!

About 7 of the locks on the Nene require manual labour to spin these large wheels to raise & lower the guillotine gates.

Above Weston Favell lock it was incredibly weedy, the embankments contain flood sluices for the Northampton flood relief scheme and unfortunately the prevailing wind was blowing the weed down to the lock. We decided that Carol should cruise out of the lock and to the flood sluice where I scrambled aboard. The indicated channel turned right after the sluice (why??) and this 200 yard channel was also full of weed, but we got through OK.

Turning out of the flood relief area Rush Mills lock had a top gate paddle (sorry EA, Pointed Door sluice) that would not close fully and this was to aggravate the problems with the very slow paddle mechanism needing 75 turns to open the paddle. Rush Mills & Abington lock above it are the only two locks on the Nene still having these low geared mechanisms.

A new marina was nearing completion alongside Becketts Park, on the town level. It has been sponsored by all sorts of quasi governmental bodies, but fortunately a decent contractor seems to have been employed & it looks good, nearly completed but yet to have any security features installed.

We tied up in Northampton around 5 having covered 12 miles and 13 locks.

Tuesday 10th August and 3 years after I retired! Rain overnight and overcast with drizzle at first. Quick visit for fruit & veg at Morrissons plus a coffee before we were off at 11.30. We crossed with one boat on the Northampton Arm and were concerned at the bottom end that we might never get through. There was a great amount of weed and using revs that would normally have seen us doing over 4mph we could barely keep up with a 2 year old child. It was similarly slow going on the way down yet we didn't seem to be churning up the bottom, very strange.

We saw this crop alongside the arm and also near Oundle. It stands around 5 feet high in clumps. Any ideas as to what it is, we reckon it is a green fuel.

Anyway, all the locks were set for us! Plus we met a granny with 2 grandchildren who were only too keen to push gates open & closed. Carol always keeps a jar of boiled sweets as a reward & these children deserved their reward. The locks of course were so quick to work through compared with those on the Nene, and we were out of the top lock at 3.30. A quick stop at Gayton services, so nice to have places to tip the Elsan, and we then waited for the traffic to rush past before joing the GU.

We decided to aim for Bugbrook, getting there at 5 and stopping about 150m before the bridge....bad choice, railway line very close, it would have been much better to carry on through the next 2 bridges before stopping. Went for a beer in the new pub, which was expensive, though I thought the interior of the pub craftily incorporated old bricks, timbers and designs.

We covered 8 miles and 17 locks and the weather drizzled a bit but it was far better than the forecast led us to expect.

Wednesday 11th and oh what a noisy night! A better day and as we entered Whilton Bottom Jenny & Bob on their new shared ownership boat, Budleigh, from Crick marina hove into view. We enjoyed sharing the flight with them in the lovely weather. We crossed with several boats too, making it even better.

We left them at the top of the flight and carried on to Watford, stopping as usual tied to the railings under the railway bridge to go into Watford Gap M1 services for papers, milk and, you guessed it, coffee! Arriving at Watford locks at 3 we had a 1 1/2 hour wait, being first in the next batch up. Filling with water & chatting whilst waiting we were helped up the locks by a chap who was hoping that by moving us out quickly that he would get down that night(he did).

We intended to stop at Crick but moorings were full so we stopped alongside Cracks Hill, just through the footbridge. The weather was generally good but clouded up during afternoon. Pleasant mooring spot and this lovely sunset.

As to alternator belt the one fitted on 5th still going OK. It gives a slight squeek first off in the morning before settling down. I have tightened it very slightly on 2 occasions so far and noticed this morning that the first bits of "V" were missing. 13 miles & 14 locks.

Thursday 12th and two boats passed us at about 6, waking Carol (I was already awake) who lept out of bed demanding we set of speedily as it was bound to be very bust at Foxton. Unheard of for us, by 6.45 we were under way, I don't ever recall starting so early. As we approached Yelvertoft and with our bows just about under the bridge, a boat on the water point just the other side set off!! I was absolutely flabbergasted at the mentality of the person whom I hesitate to call a boater! Better still, just past the permanently moored boats & just before the next bridge & right on the bend, he stopped & called us through!

Two other boats were about ready to set off as we approached but both did the right thing and waited the minute it took us to pass. Worried about reed growth on the length before the Welford Arm, in at least 2 places clumps about 20 feet long have blocked half the width on the inside of tightish bends. Our luck was in though as we only met boats in reasonably wide sections. We got about an hour of cruising in before the first rain, but then we had several, and sometimes quite sharp showers, through the day.

Husbands Bosworth tunnel was pretty dry and delighted us by giving us 4 boats to pass within it. By 12.15 we were at the top of Foxton and had a longish wait before we were able to descend to moor in the bottom basin. At around 6 there was an almighty clap of thunder that almost immediately followed a very big flash of lightning, and then a deluge. A pleasant chat in Br 61 and with Ian & Fiona on Brass Buckle whom we had moored with in Leicester in ? 2008 or 7 at our festival.

During our cruise I painted our new watering and Buckby cans and Carol decorated them.

16 1/2 miles in the day.

Friday 14th No movement, collected car thanks to Ian Cooper nb May Be, always a supporter of our local events, who gave me a lift. In the evening we had anenjoyable meal with IWA committee friends in the Foxton Locks Inn.

Saturday 13th and 3 years after we first set off on our cruising life. It was the opening day of the Foxton Festival and it rained on and off for much of the day. What surprised me was that there were ant people at the event, but in the marquee where the IWA had its stand there was a reasonable number of people at all times, and a good number when it rained.

Sunday 14th and a glorious day & people thronged to the Festival. The Foxton Inclined Plane Trust had organised the event and we were so pleased that all their efforts were rewarded by the crowds. I spent a lot of time talking (who me??) on the IWA stand, cajoling people to sign an Ashby Canal Association petition, and generally talking about joining the IWA and also ensuring that they go and enjoy the trip through Leicester. Jo & John, whom we met in Peterborough came along & we were able to show them how we had finished off Lily after they had left Debdale for their life aground near Peterborough.

Busy Foxton scenes.

Monday 15th and yes I know I only blog Sunday to Sunday, but after today I'll be signing off until we set off again after Lily's drive belt problem has been resolved, and after the Bank Holiday during which time we will go by train from Narborough to Dundee to see Carol's cousin who we last saw in Sydney in March. Crazy things thrain prices. Leicester to Dundee, via Peterborough, the train passes through and stops at Melton Mowbray. Price from Leicester £155, from Melton £184!!

Anyway we tied up in Debdale at 11, the drive belt fitted on the 5th looks about ruined. I have suggested to Debdale that they should get the rep from Gates belts to look at the damaged belts for his opinion as to what is wrong. He might refuse to come, but they have nothing to lose by asking.

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