Parallel Parking and Stag Nights

We are now 100% living on the narrowboat. Really we already were fully living on it but now we don’t have a flat to go back to as our daughter is moved in with her grandparents and the flat is sold. This means we don’t have a back up shower or laundry facility for saving on water. We are also cruising toward Braunston now so no gym access. It is now just Alan, Peanut and I with our boat until autumn. So the day after moving out of the flat and the sale completing we left Milton Keynes.

It was a bank holiday weekend and shockingly the weather was magnificent! Normally a bank holiday is expected to be grey, cold, and likely rainy but this Saturday was bright sun and warm enough to be wearing a tank top. Could not have asked for a better day to cruise.

We need to get the Braunston (about 35 miles) but only have four cruising days to do it. This is very much doable as that is about how long it took to get to Milton Keynes from Braunston back in November. This time we have a deadline though as our boat is going in for blacking so will be taken out of the water on a fixed day. While she is out of the water she will also be getting a new name but that is a story for the future.

First stop had to be for water. Two weeks without filling meant we must have been on the last drops. I do wish there was a water gauge so we actually knew what was left but narrowboats rarely have those. We got to the water point just as the last person was leaving so was able to quickly get to work. The water started filling so I started a load of laundry in my new, old washer. Alan got to emptying and cleaning the pee bottles at the elsan point and emptied the rubbish. We did an impromptu clear out the night before setting off so there was masses of rubbish to dispose of at the rubbish point.

After about an hour and a half at the water point we headed off for the north. There were still a few miles of the greater Milton Keynes area so we didn’t get to our only lock north of Milton Keynes until the afternoon. During much of this time I was inside making dinner, dealing with laundry….just normal household stuff. I did get out on the welldeck for some of the time to enjoy the sunshine and get a few pictures. I particularly enjoyed seeing lots of new ducklings swimming along with their mamas.

When we arrived in Cosgrove for the only lock things got a bit harry. There was a back up at the lock because a widebeam (double the width of a narrowboat) was bringing through a broken down boat meaning the wide one was blocking the lock while waiting for the broken one to be pulled through. It is just how things go sometimes.

The drama was that we didn’t know what was happening or see people holding ropes to keep their boats to the side so didn’t know there was a line. Someone ran down to let us know but it was too late for the last space big enough for us. My options at this point were hovering or backing up. Hovering sucks! Backing up also sucks but for a shorter period of time. It did mean that I was having a bit of a panic attack at the idea of parallel parking a 65ft boat that can really only be steered properly when moving forward.

After feeling a meltdown trying to form I managed to get mental control and do the backing up needed. Got Alan off to the towpath to anchor me while I pivoted in the front of the boat and we got ourselves tied off. Of course as soon as I got back inside to hang up my laundry I was told it was time to move forward so we could be in the next lot to go up. So we got all untied and moved up to the space a hie boat had left and I decided to just hold the rope this time. So of course this time I was left standing there for ages. Alan was off talking to the old men and one of the ladies come down and chatted with me. She seemed nice enough but I know realise that she was probably planning to tell me off for getting upset about backing up. I heard later from Alan that the men were discussing me having a hissy fit and Alan failing to explain it was more of a panic attack and fear.

Once it was our turn I set out again only to realise I had to manoeuvre my boat in a U shape around the widebeam and into the lock that was behind and to the side of him. There was also a boat in a private mooring so close that I had about a 7 1/2 foot space to move through at the beginning of the manoeuvre. Oh and the broken down boat was flailing around a bit as it was moved into place as well. Again the fear was rising and the tears felt like they were forming but needs be so I did it. I managed to get into the lock without hitting any boats. Another hire boat came into the lock with me and we headed up. Honestly, sometimes I think this relaxed lifestyle is more stressful than the daily chaos of kids, homeschool, and sometimes work outside the home. I have earned a drink at the end of the day but we are not at the end yet.

I collected Alan up from the lock and handed over the tiller to him. Back to having some time to finish some housework and do some writing. I must admit that I wrote the last post while we were cruising as it is a quite time of the day especially with no more locks to worry about. Alan helmed and I get the rest of the dinner ready for the evening. Homemade Baked Beans was the plan for the day and they came out great. We finished out cruise near a pub called The Navigation about a mile north of Cosgrove.

Where we moored for the night

You would think mooring up and sending Alan back for the car would have been the end of the drama for the day but no. A stag party (bachelor party) on a couple of hire boats turned up blaring music. A boat was behind the stag party when one of the partygoers decided to jump off the boat and into the canal….he will likely need antibiotics for that move especially as they reported it was the second time that day.

This meant the boat behind had to stop and hover while they got the idiot out of the water. Now the idiot is out the party finds themselves grounded as the sides are quite shallow. They are blocking the whole waterway. Luckily at this point Alan turns up and I hand him the barge pole to push the front end out while the stag gets their pole and pushes out the back. The other boat is able to move through but the party decided to moor up behind us. Oh yay!

We did consider moving but we knew the area and that the car was safe so stayed for the night. Luckily the party wasn’t too crazy in the night and didn’t wake us. As this is getting long I will split this week and have another post for our Sunday journey.

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