Long Sunny Day of Cruising

We set off from Nether Heyford going north on the Grand Union Canal on a Sunday. There was only one day this weekend for moving the boat because our Saturday was filled up with visiting Swindon for my 100th Parkrun and a friend’s birthday party. Our goal was to get past the Leicester arm of the Grand Union. You see our daughter has her birthday the next weekend so again only one cruising day to get to Braunston before our blacking appointment. Getting past Norton junction means we are around about three miles from Braunston so even with a tunnel and six locks to deal with it shouldn’t be to difficult next Sunday.

I admit that we didn’t get up early and got a later start then I would have liked. The weather was a bit chilly in the morning so I added a hoodie to my tank top and short yoga trousers. Alan of course was in shorts and a t-shirt like he typically wears year round. We (being Alan) got the bikes situated, the chimney and the antenna down, and got the washer going for while we cruised. Around about 9:30am we finally set out.

The canal from Nether Heyford to the Buckby flight of locks was long and meandering. Seemed like many hours before we arrived at the water point just before Weedon. In reality the 1hr 25 min wash cycle was still going so it hadn’t been all that long. It just felt long because of the lack of excitement.

Alan was helming so usually nothing exciting happens though he did get one moment of interest this time when I boat was coming out of a blind turn under a bridge. He threw the boat into reverse and come to a halt as the other boat came around us. We moved ourselves up to the bridge to find another boat on its was toward us but as we were closer and more committed to going through the bridge we continued on and the other boat got to wait this time. That was the most exciting thing to happen that morning and to be honest it is common as water in a canal.

While we got water Alan walked into town to get a few bits from the store. I manned the water filling and got on with hanging up laundry to dry and other chores. Within about 5 minutes of Alan leaving I noticed e seems to be wandering from the side at the back end. I quickly got outside to find the back end ropes had come very loose and our stern was several feet out into the canal. I pulled her back in and retired the ropes while verbally asking the boat to keep its butt under control. Of course that required the next boatman along to be getting out of his wall deck and think I am telling him to keep his butt under control. The look I got was seriously a wtf expression so I explained that I tend to talk to my boat out loud and just ignore me. At this point he thinks I am insane and he isn’t completely wrong I suspect.

Just as the water finished filling, Alan returned. I had just gotten the hose put away when he popped up with a few bits all stuffed in a drawstring bag as it hadn’t occurred to him that a bag for the grocery store might be helpful. The bread was only marginally squashed though. We got the food inside and immediately headed back off…..

Just as the welldeck started to pass the back of the boat ahead Alan spotted that I had left our water tap adaptor on the tap so we needed to retrieve it or not have water in the future. He got us into reverse and got me back to the water point. I jumped off the slightly moving boat which of course my ankle had unpleasant comments about for me and grabbed the adaptor. I climbed back aboard just as Alan started to move again and we headed off.

Again it seemed like we cruised for ages. Behind every curve was another curve. We slithered northerly for a couple more hours before we stopped for lunch. In case you hadn’t guessed this yet….this was a never ending feeling day. Alan had leftovers and I threw together random stuff from the fridge for my lunch. Peanut had a little wander about in the trees before we started the afternoon cruising.

Shortly after heading off again we came across a kayaker coming under a bridge toward us. As he passed by I said the usual hello and he replied the same. He seemed familiar to me. I radioed back to Alan asking if his guy was The New Boater from YouTube. Alan called a hello and asked if he was in fact The New Boater which made the guy giggle and say where is boats were. It was The New Boater and his boats Merlin and Bess were just around the corner. We later found that he had misunderstood Alan and thought Alan had asked if he was a boater. How do we know? We are in one of his videos! YouTube stars now I guess.

I think it was around another mile up when we came to Whilton Marina and the Buckby Flight. Now by this time the sun was blaring down. This is relative as it was hot for the U.K. but that was only the low 20s C. This was the point I took over. I had been trying to finish a couple jobs when I realised we had reached the switching point where I wanted to drop Alan off at a bridge. I was not prepared! I did manage to toss my clear glasses aside for my sunglasses but forgot my sunblock…being as pale as a ghost sunblock is rather important.

No sooner had we switched helmsman but Alan radios back to me that the boat ahead is turning around before the locks. What! What did they expect me to do? Was I to moor and wait or just hold back and pray they are quick? I went with holding back. They turned in the marina entrance and once they were moving forward I stopped hovering and headed for the lock which Alan had open by the time I got there.

Alan closed the gate and I stayed at my post holding the ropes as the sun baked down on my neck. Earlier in the day I had brought Alan the sunblock in the engine room but he had wandered off with it. I put up with the sun and just did my best to get my hat to cover my neck. It wasn’t until the second lock that I asked where the sunblock had gone….inside of course. Alan agreed to hold the ropes along the side while I went in search of my neck saviour. Sprayed myself down as well as I could and hoped for the best.

Up through 4 more locks we went before we stopped at a little shop next to the lock landing. They were advertising ice cream and it was time fore a treat. It really was time as I had gone inside for something and while hurrying back out had bashed my head into the door frame so was now hot, tired and headachy! Ice cream did seem like the best medicine. As we went into the little shop we found that they sell canal style painted jugs and furniture. We also spotted a rainbow mushroom garden stake that we knew Katie would love and a little sign for the boat.

Pleased with the purchases and treats we pushed off to do the last lock before the junction. I think it was about 3:30p when we got into the lock. This lock didn’t really want to be worked and a weird dude showing off a dog more than helping with the lock made it more difficult. Alan would have been happy to work the lock himself but the weird dude insisted on “helping”. It was about 4pm by the time we got out of the lock. The boat had wandered to the wrong side of the lock so getting the rubbish to the services point became a bit much to attempt. Once out of the lock I picked Alan up from the landing and we started to look for a mooring.

Sunrise on the first morning moored here. Picture courtesy of Alan Hines

The first section after the junction was very full. The second section was less full so we found a spot under a tree. Not ideal for solar but at least we were done. We settled in for the night tired but only slightly pink from the sun. Three miles and a bit from Braunston so perfectly positioned to have a day off on Saturday. The spot is nice though we do have to run the engines for our power because of the tree but it is beautiful which makes all the difference.

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