Monday 19th June
I let go at 07.45 and getting well away from the boat behind me before starting the engine. I intended to get to Crick after about 5 hours, but it took six and a half. The day was red hot, with temperatures inside the boat above 30°C. I was stripped down to a pair of shorts and sandals and would really have liked to jump into the water.
At the approach to Husbands Bosworth Tunnel, I could see the white light from another boat inside, but could not tell which way it was heading, so I waited a while, but as it never seemed to move I headed in to the tunnel. When I got there they were moving so slowly towards me, I asked if they were OK – they were, but my auxiliary light crunched against the wall and then went out, so I thought it was smashed. Steering in the tunnel with just a headlight is not my bag as I like to be able to see the wall, which gives me more perspective and better orientation. However, on exiting the tunnel I checked the light and all was OK. It had gone out because the switch hit something and switched itself off. Nevertheless something was loose inside, so it had the full strip strip down later.
I moored up at Crick after six and a half hours from Foxton, which was a bit longer than I thought. This time I was in the shade, nearer to the tunnel. Shopping was on the list in the village, but rehydration was necessary beforehand in The Wheatsheaf – shopping in the Co-Op before more rehydration in the same pub.
Tuesday 20th June
At 07.30 I reversed onto the water point and filled the fresh water container and emptied the rubbish, before heading into Crick Tunnel. The condensed mist inside was like steering through fog and there was no point of reference except for the wall, so I zig-zagged through, overcorrecting the steering every so often. Not until 200yds from the south portal could I see the exit, which was weird and I expected to see Kit Crewbucket, the ghost of Crick Tunnel any minute.
Forty five minutes later I arrived at Watford Top Lock, but there were three boats on their way up, so I had about 45 mins to wait, which turned into an hour. Making the most of my time, I got onto the water point and filled the tank, made coffee, wrote up some of this and assisted two boats through the top lock and had a chat with the lockies. I was let through after the Cheese Boat, while there were now more than seven boats waiting at the top and three at the bottom – busy, busy!
Turning towards Braunston at Norton Junction, there were no boats moving, so no collisions. Through Braunston Tunnel at a good speed with no oncoming boats. This time I clamped the auxiliary light to the cabin top, which was inside the profile of the boat, so could suffer no damage and left one hand free. I wonder why I never did this before.
The simple solution!
On arrival at Braunston Top Lock, I waited for the boat following me through the tunnel. When it failed to appear after ten mins, I let myself through, only to see it approaching a few minutes later, but waited in the next lock for them. The wife was steering, but only because she had hurt her neck and could not do the locks. This is a common mistake in partnerships, because if the husband has an accident, the wife is too timid to take over steering of the boat. They need to take equal turns in doing locks and steering, so that each understands the others part. Very often the husband dominates the wife and refuses to let her steer because she makes a hash of it, but then she refuses to steer because the husband criticises her steering, so there is fault on both parts. Anyway, we got through all the locks in one piece, despite his shouting at her.
Pulling up alongside nb Egypt, I was greeted by John Boswell and the rest of the Cat Herders under the awning alongside nb Joseph, which has a new engine at last. We had a good old chat and eventually Graham Scothern turned up and I was greeted like a long lost friend. After an hour, I moved up opposite the Marston’s pub and got a good mooring there, as moorings are suspended from tomorrow until well after the event.