Domestics and Birdbrained Boaters
Friday 25th May
It rained quite hard in the night and at 04.30 I could hear dripping water. On further investigation, the Houdini hatch was leaking again and quite severely this time, so a bucket was hung on the handle as nothing else could be done at the time. If it got too heavy with water it could break the handle, so it was checked a few times before I went back to sleep until 10am! Never have I slept to late – just about 12 hrs.
As it was still raining, I decided to stay until it was due to cease at about 13.00 and then go up the flight with another boat if possible.
Eventually another boat did come along at about 12.00 and the rain was down to a fine drizzle by then, so we went together. I had come up the Stoke flight with them, so I knew that they were not very experienced boaters. The lady who was doing the locks had hurt her back also, but she refused to steer the boat, which slowed things up considerably. It was when she slipped over on her bum, that things changed and they decided to moor and wait for a boat with a larger crew, which left me with a lady steerer and a young man, on another boat and he insisted on doing all the lock work. As usual on a lock landing, I tie a bowline in the end of the centre line, drop it over a suitable bollard and put the boat into gear with a tiller string on to hold the tiller in a straight line. This has never failed me and the lady on the accompanying boat was the only person who has ever asked how it was done. I showed her the two ways of tying a bowline and although she had a book of knots, she had never learned to tie any of them – how can anyone steer a boat and not know any knots?
I pulled in above Buckby Top Lock and went into the New Inn after a while. Surprisingly there was now BT wi-fi in the pub: whether it was theirs or not I don’t know, but it was a strong signal.
Colin phoned me in the evening after I had had difficulty with the NBT Pubs database and led me through the procedure step by step for transferring the existing data into my own database. I have put a great deal of effort into this and other databases that he has designed, which have been abandoned for various reasons, so I was delighted to get this one back under my control.
Saturday 26th May
There were sporadic showers this morning and it was to be a murky day until early afternoon. I set up all the necessary lights for Braunston Tunnel and made sure that all fenders were lifted. It was busy boating morning with many going the same way as me, as well as in the opposing direction. Being a Saturday, several hire boats were out with new crews.
I entered the tunnel behind another boat and there were three of us in line astern, but the boat ahead was slow and when an opposing boat met up with it, the steerer put the boat across the tunnel and blocked it, so no one could pass. Eventually they passed each other on the wrong side. When I got to Braunston Top Lock, the woman was steering, if I can call it that? She could not steer a wheelbarrow and was hitting almost everything as she passed. As I was the first in the lock, I closed the gate on my side as a precautionary measure to stop her hitting my boat. She was so slow, it was painful to watch. None of these boats mentioned were hire boats either!
After such a dreary descent of the six locks, I moored just above Butcher’s Bridge and wrote this up. Now it is time to try and seal the Houdini hatch with Captain Tolly’s Creeping Crack Cure; I saw it recently in a chandlers and the name has now been changed to something much more mundane – shame!
I walked up the three locks to The Admiral Nelson and was looking through their very large collection of recipe books with pint in hand, when I spotted an interesting Spanish dish, so copied it on the mobile camera. The lady sitting on the nearby sofa asked if I wanted to sit there, so I accepted and we got into conversation about boats, of course. Shortly after sitting down who should appear but Jack Reay. I was so surprised that I didn’t even offer to buy him a drink! I turned out that he had not been that far behind me on the GU. Anyway, I did get him a drink after all.
Sunday 27th May
When I awoke this morning, I could hear that dreaded bubbling sound, which indicated that a pump out was due. Sure enough the toilet bowl was full to within 2ins of the top – no banging the boat about today! The first thing was to get dressed and go to the marina loo, for which I have a key (don’t ask). Unfortunately, the key did not fit. I remember it being difficult last time, but however I manipulated the key, it would not turn in the lock. I remember there being another loo close to the Stop House, so asked the lady from Gongoozlers Cafe, (not Gongoozlers Rest any more), if I could borrow the key – success and all was well.
Next on the agenda was to move into the marina arm and get tokens for pump out and washing machine. Being a Bank Holiday, the office did not open until 10am and by that time Jack Reay had appeared with his laundry too, so further conversation construed over a cup of tea on my boat. When Tim Coghlan turned up to open the office (the other staff were all at Crick Boat Show), he remarked that I was now famous with all the photos of last year’s opening with Tim West. Although I had seen four pics, he said there were at least six in various publications.
After successfully pumping out, I left the long hose along the wharf and continued with the laundry, Whilst another boat plugged the fitting into his boat. Unfortunately the sight glass, which was actually made of clear plastic, finally broke away from the tap fitting at the end of the hose. The other guy was a scientist/engineer and pointed out the It had been broken for some time by looking at the break and had only been hanging on by about ½ inch of material. There was much activity finding keys to workshops and someone who could help with a repair, but by that time I had backed out of the marina and moored at Midland Swindlers for a new stainless steel chimney and some Captain Tolley’s juice. Just before I moved off the mooring, I decided I had better try the chimney to see if it did fit. Much to my surprise, it did not, so I had to return it for a refund. All these chimneys were the same size and slightly smaller than the six inch collar, which is standard, so I can’t see them selling very many, if at all.
Sealing the hatch later, I found that the sealant was running right through and onto the floor below, so it looks like I have to run some silicon round there first. Another visit to MS later it seems.
There was thunder and lightning around now, so I covered the hatch with a piece of translucent plastic to keep the rain out. It was weighted down with that short section of railway line, that I knew would come in handy one day. And did it rain; so much so that the towpath was awash within a minute of tow and there was even hailstones at one point! I did sympathise for a fellow boater passing by, because there was no warning at all.