Saturday, 16 June 2012

Braunston Bound - Then home to party.

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan/Cath)

The plan today was simple - complete the rest of the trip to Braunston, then get home in time for Alan to be out again for his reunion with old school friends.

Buckby locks hardly look like there have been water restriction!
There is nothing out of the usual to report, really - there is a long lock-free stretch until you get to Whilton and Bucby locks, followed fairly soon by Braunston tunnel, and a further flight of locks down in to Braunston.  With the restrictions on lock opening hours now lifted, one no longer has to worry about being at a flight by "lock out" time, but obviously we still wanted to make good progress.

Traditionally we have always thought of the seven Whilton & Buckby locks to be harder work than most on the Southern Grand Union.  At approximately 9 feet each deep, they are significantly deeper than others that are in flights, the paddle gear is not the best maintained, and many of the gates will blow open at the wrong times if you get unlucky.  However I don't know if we are fitter, or just more effective at what we do, but these locks no longer seem that bad.  That's easy for me to say, as I largely worked the boat, whilst Cath did the majority of gates and paddles, although often I was sending her ahead to set the next one, whilst I did most of the top gate work.

Between locks at Braunston
The tunnels are OK in "Sickle" if you can go at her speed, but less pleasurable if you catch someone up in them.  I therefore let a boat ahead of us go into the tunnel, whilst I pulled up to give some space in between.  not enough, it seems, as by half way through, I had caught them.  Not a real slow crawl, but slower than easily tackled in "Sickle".

Braunston locks are not deep, and always seem easy compared to some of the other flights.  We ended up sharing locks, and were soon down them.

This will look a lot busier in a week's time!
At last year's Braunston event Sickle was not moored with most of the other tugs - a feature of the show is tugs strung out many abreast near the marina entrance.  This time it was possible to leave her much close to where the "tug-epicentre" would be.

All too quickly we were packing up, loading up the car at Braunston, then heading to retrieve the second car.  I did make my evening event too, which I thoroughly enjoyed, despite being very tired by then.  I met quite a few class-mates who I last saw over 40 years ago - astonishing really.  One of them, it turns out,lives right near the canal in central Birmingham, not far from Gas Street basin - now there's an excuse to look him up, next time we are in 'Brum'!

About 1 mile from Bugbrooke to Braunston
Miles: 14.0, Locks:13

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