Wednesday 19th July
After watering up opposite at 7am, I crept off the moorings half an hour later. It was five hours to Braunston and was an uneventful trip, stopping briefly at Clifton Cruisers to take another photograph of the Skandia engine. I arrived at my destination just after midday, before stripping the bed and collecting launderette tokens from the marina shop. Tim returned shortly after and we had a few words over the Braunston Hysterics, giving me some Towpath Talk reprints that he had done. In the launderette were a 12 volt car fan and a semicircular table that fitted on a hinged bracket, that someone had left as collectable items, being too good to go in the bin. Sure enough, I was the guy who took possession!
Jaq Biggs arrived in the afternoon and invited me for another meal at 6 pm, for which I was very grateful, as we had such good times together previously, so after a shower I turned up with a bottle of wine and she used her new Cobb BBQ to cook shish kebabs, which were extremely good. We also tackled one or two knots that could be useful when out boating. Being steeped in knotting since I was in the scouts, it has always been natural for me to cope with any situation where a knot was required, but to Jaq it was a completely new world, but she coped really well and could do a bowline the following morning with no help from me.
Thursday 20th July
It was raining most of the morning, but I said that I would sort out Jaq’s new lines, that she had bought the day before. There were four eye splices to be done and the ends of the ropes were to be stopped with heat shrink sleeving, so that we ended up with two centre lines and a bow and stern line. It had been several years since doing an eye splice, but I got the hang of it by the fourth one. Even the worst splice looks better after rolling it on the ground beneath your boot. Whilst that was going Jaq was writing out recipes for Jaq’s Lazy Pie, which we had last night and Nevi’s Nooner Sandwich which sounded so tasty. I just Googled Nevi’s Nooner and it comes from an award winning gourmet sandwich house in Spokane, where Jaq used to work. I just got to make one!
I later took apart the rear white light to inspect the broken glass, but there was no re-gluing of this one again. Moving up to Midland Swindlers, I had a look around and amazingly found a plastic replacement, so no need to buy a complete lamp as I envisaged, but it cost £16 incl VAT for a piece of moulded plastic! They did not sell heat shrink sleeving, which I thought was a oversight on their part, as it is so useful in place of whipping on the ends of ropes. I then took in the table that I had acquired to ask advice about fitting it. Sure enough the manager had one on his boat, so explained how it worked. Having almost satisfied my use of MC, I reversed onto a free mooring close to the turn, ready for the trip to Napton tomorrow. Karen Cook (NBT crew) passed by later and stopped in for a chat, telling me how she had been hit by a hire boat in Braunston Tunnel, which was then rear ended by a following boat too close behind.
Friday 21st July.
A very windy day from first thing this morning, so cruising is not going to be very comfortable out in the sticks with no tree shelter.
I finished writing up this blog, before moving on at 10.30 am. Crossing the Puddle Banks was not comfortable with the strong wind from the south and only one incident occurred, when I slowed down too much when passing moored boats on a left hand bend and the wind almost took me into one of them. I slowed to a halt in a gap between two boats, but had to wait then for a passing boat, at which point a guy showed his head and said something that I failed to hear, but no doubt derogatory. After the oncoming boat had passed by, he then pushed my bow off his boat and I was on my way again. A short way further on, I passed two dog walkers and the man said, “He’s a miserable old git, because the same thing happened to me!” That says it all I think.
All the visitor moorings below the water point at Napton were full at 3.30 pm, so I went through the lock, knowing that it was possible to moor in the next pound and sure enough there were spaces. After a visit to The Folly, I cooked up a meal and was soon in bed.
Saturday 22nd July
It was a beautiful morning, so being in need of a few supplies, I walked up to the Napton Village Store and Post Office. I think I have mentioned this in a previous blog, but this shop is like Aladdin’s Cave and seems to sell everything, although the choice is limited. They have an in store bakery, cafe and coffee shop and several homemade preserves that look very tempting.
I let go at 10 am and headed up the flight of nine Napton Locks, most of which were in my favour and so got to the top in 2 hrs. Pressing on towards Fenny Compton, it started to rain on and off, until eventually it became continuous just before Fenny and appears to have set in for the rest of the day. The whole trip had taken 5.5 hrs. I got a mooring just before the two bridges, so after a bit of dodgy reversing in the shallows, I got in to it. There was no point looking any further and as I have found out previously, you have grab these while you can.. The whole pound was down about 2 to 3 inches, although I had been warned by an oncoming boater beforehand. The problem being that if I got the propeller in the mud, there was no fan hold to control the boat. Fortunately this did not happen on the long stretch, only on reversing for the mooring.