Day 46 – Sarah & Family Visit

I’d arranged to meet Sarah & family at Weston Favell lock, near Northampton Boat Club. Last year we organised a meeting at lock by a club and although the club had visitor moorings it had no provision for visitors arriving by car. This time I stopped on the Washlands Mooring which is accessible by the Nene Way footpath.

Only three locks to do and a few miles cruising but I left early hoping to clean up the boat a bit while waiting. The first three locks on the Nene are traditional with ‘pointing doors’ at both ends, manually operated and very heavy. The paddles (or slackers as they call them down here) are operated by an enclosed screw mechanism and very low geared taking 70-80 turns to open/close.

The weed that plagued me on the lower Northampton Arm was evident here too but with plenty of to-ing and fro-ing on the gear lever I got to the mooring without resort to the weed hatch.

Milly & Georgie were delighted to see me, and Georgie has lost her fear of the boat now and was soon at the helm poking all the switches and twirling the wheel. I haven’t seen them for seven weeks and Georgie has matured in that time. She was proudly demonstrating how she can unscrew the top of a bottle to drink out of it, and screw it on again. No need for a special drinking bottle. Apparently her new word this week is ‘literally’. She claims not to know the names of kids at nursery but dropped into the conversation that they had a story about Tutankhamen.

They were breaking their journey to the Peak District where they are going camping so after a brief picnic lunch they left and I carried on through another five locks (typical Nene type with guillotine bottom gates) to White Mills marina.

More weed of course and I realised the engine cooling water flow was lower than usual. The exhaust note changes (more bark less splash/burble) and the exhaust fumes (right under the helmsman’s elbow) become more noticeable. There was still some flow though so I crept on keeping a close watch on the temperature gauge. One of the locks, Whiston I think) had a great mat of weed piled up in front of the gate. I bow-hauled Seren through that and into the lock then on leaving let the wind and current take us out of the lock and away from the weed before starting the engine.

One reason for stopping at White Mills was to use their laundry, the other to do something about the cooling. I checked the impeller (OK) and blew through the various pipes. Disconnected the feed from stopcock and opened it carefully. Just a trickle, so weed in the opening under the boat. Fortunately putting a pipe on the stopcock and blowing hard eventually produced a stream of bubbles from under the hull. With everything back together the water flow looks healthier and the exhaust sounds more normal. Hope there’s less weed tomorrow.

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