Day 10

Published on Day 11 as no internet last night.

Sometimes this trip seems like a low-budget disaster movie. Today’s disaster, discovered last night is that the kettle has sprung a leak. Fortunately just before Wilton Locks is Wilton Marina so I pulled in there to empty the loo, fill the water tank and – buy a kettle. Disaster averted.

Better still as I was preparing to move away toward the first lock a narrowboat appeared. The Grand Union main line has double width locks which means two narrow beam boats fit side by side. So we did that. And there were four people on the other boat so plenty of hands to make light work of the locks.

At the top they pulled into a different boatyard for water etc and I pressed on until it was time for lunch.

Then a nice post-lunch dawdle along to Braunston Tunnel 2Km long give or take. It’s double width like the locks so it’s possible to pass another boat but I didn’t have to. There was one just getting ready to enter when I was nearly out but he held back rather than trying to pass in the tunnel. Bit of a watershed moment Braunston, it’s been uphill since Marmot Priory lock on the Middle Level but after the tunnel it’s downhill to Manchester.

Shortly after the tunnel are Braunston Locks. A gang of CRT volunteers were hard at work painting the gates of the top one, with extra volunteers to operate the locks to avoid public and paintwork coming into contact. As I was waiting for the lock to fill yet another narrowboat appeared (must be my lucky day). The steerer was a bit brusque about lock sharing and said they were with another boat, which appeared round the corner right on cue. But, GU locks a 70′ long, their boats were 39′ and 40′ and Seren is 26′ so I could fit behind either of them quite com

fortably. I think if the CRT volunteers hadn’t shepherded us all in to the first one they would have demurred, but having done one lock they couldn’t really refuse the next 5 or 6. Pretty miserable group though, one of the guys spoke to me a couple of times the other and both of the women just looked cross. Takes all sorts and we got the job done. Then on to Braunston Turn where the GU joins the Oxford canal.

The Oxford is one of the older canals on the network and opposed the construction of the GU fearing competition with the GU offering a more direct route to London. A deal was done involving the centre section of the Oxford being subsumed into the GU guaranteeing that traffic from the midlands to London would still use (part of) the Oxford. But I turned right onto the northern section which goes through Rugby , almost to Coventry where it joins the Coventry canal. The northern Oxford wasn’t upgraded to wide-beam when the GU was, it remains a narrow canal. As is the Coventry and after that the Trent & Mersey. Smaller lighter locks, but no sharing unless I meet another short boat.

DAY 11

Finally, 19.30 on Day 11, I managed to post Day 10.So today’s offering is brief!

I was later than usual starting, almost 09.00, but I had by then done some washing, made bread dough and pumped out and cleaned the bilge. The epoxy putty seems to be holding btsut my initial thought about the stern gland seems to be about right. Most of the grease I pumped in a few days ago was floating on top of a few inches of water. Nice clean waterproof grease but still messy to get rid of.

After that my prayers were answered when a 40′ hire boat showed up to help me through Hillmorton locks. Definitely on a lucky streak. Cheerful couple too unlike the last lot. After that a long day cruising in pretty poor weather. No rain but a cold wind and no sun. I stopped just past Nuneaton about 18.00 just as the sun came out. Lovely evening now. Must have a shower while the battery lasts. Then got a load of GOBA work to do. Tomorrow first stop is ‘Onboard Energy’ boat electric specialists at Springwood Haven Marina just before the 11 Atherstone Locks. Maybe I’ll get some good advice.

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