Friday, 11 October 2013

The Blog Stalls Again - Retrospective post - Newbold to Braunston - Tuesday 10th September

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)

Blog fail!  One month after some of the boating nothing has been written up.

As far as this day goes, there could have been a reason though!

I was on my own again, and although it may not sound much to experienced single handers, I knew I had to work through the locks at Hillmorton on my own.  I reasoned that with twinned locks I could take my time, as there is always the pair to each lock that someone can use i they get impatient with me!

First lock at Hillmorton
In practice a lock-keeper helped me at the first one, but then said "you are on your own for the rest".  Not a problem, but with multiple boats going up ahead of me, using both locks of a pair, I had to stop and reverse one of each in order to use it.  The locks here were suffering the same "low pounds" syndrome that seems to be commonplace on South East waterways flights this year.  There may be volunteer lock keepers, but they don't seem to be empowered to top up pounds that are low.  One did take a photo of me though - about the only way you get pictures for the blog if single handing!

After this I had two consecutive experiences I would have preferred to avoid, as I got into a queue of slow moving boats, with all the rest travelling ahead of me.  After following one at a reasonable distance for some miles, he then waved me past at a less than suitable spot.  As I was roughly alongside him, with not much clear waterway ahead, he put the power back on.  I suggested if he wanted me to pass he should remain well slowed down  and he said "yes, I understand", but shortly after slackening off, then speeded up again!  I did get by but it was hairy.

Shortly after this another boat waved me past at somewhere even less suitable.  I should have followed my instincts and not gone, but often if you don't go past when the boat in front offers, you are then not given a chance somewhere more appropriate.  As I was going alongside  I actually said something like "Thanks, but I'm a bit nervous of doing this, as the last boat didn't actually let me past".  "No problem" says he, (or something similar), but then winds on the speed!  At this point a boat comes round the corner towards us, and I have no option but to try and stop dead.  Total mayhem ensued, and although there was no boat to boat contact, I was very grateful of "Sickle's power, but less grateful for the fact it is very hard to prevent the front end swinging to the left bank, if it is all applied at once!  I made a mental note not to pass anyone else unless I was comfortable I could still outrun them if they did all the wrong things!  I have to say this busy stretch of the Northern Oxford seems to attract more people with little idea of what they are doing than most other canals we visit.

After that it was fortunately incident free to Braunston, and I had been trying to liaise with Cath such that she would arrive there by car to pick me up at an appropriate time, as we planned to leave "Sickle" there briefly.  I was quietly hoping that those who had waved me past, but not actually let me past, would not arrive anywhere nearby.  My patience was a little exhausted by this stage, and I might have had further "words".  However after a good feed at the Gongoozlers' Rest, I was prepared to put it down as one of those unfortunate boating days that hopefully only happens once in a blue moon!

Newbold to Braunston
Miles: 11.2, Locks: 3

Total Miles: 516.5, Locks: 255

1 comment:

  1. I think you're right that water management is not something that volunteer lock keepers are good at. At Foxton a couple of weeks ago there was a volunteer in charge, and the whole flight was serious,y short of water. Filling a lock emptied the side ponds down to mud, and we struggled to get over the cills from one lock to the next. When we we're about to leave the top lock, a full timer arrived and suggested running some water down. The volunteer opened the paddle -- sucking us back into the lock! Even on high revs we couldn't leave until he'd closed the paddle again.


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