Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Going home, very temporarily.

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)

Bottom of the Marsworth flight.
We had a cracking day's boating yesterday, but I had gone to bed with the knowledge that there had been perhaps rather more oil underneath "Sickle's" Lister than I had been expecting.  So, after a fairly casual breakfast sat on the tug deck opposite "Chalice's" old mooring, the first real task of the day was to start assessing whether we had a serious problem or not.

Passing the immaculate "Holland".
I had thought I had checked oil levels OK before we left yesterday, but in all honesty the side to side trim of the boat can give false readings, and I was not that confident today that it had actually been up to the mark yesterday.  So I decided to top up the oil today, and try and get the level right, with "Sickle" on an even trim.  It took quite a lot, but, again, in all honesty, I have little idea when it was last topped up.

We agreed to carry on, but to stop again quite soon, let it settle, and to make sure the level was not quickly being compromised, so we worked on up until the bottom of the Marsworth flight, (having managed to get through a very low pound between the "Perter's two locks).  Three boats had been following us at "Peter's two" so we thought we would wait at Marsworth until at least one caught us up.  It never came, nor did we spot any of the three heading down the Aylesbury arm, so after half an hour we checked the oil level, (which was OK), and set off up the locks.

Leaving Northchurch Lock
Circumstances have dictated we have not come South on the Grand Union in some years, so had not actually done this delightful flight for some time.  It is disappointing to see things getting worse though, with water levels low, despite two volunteer lock keepers, and the top pound particularly bad to the point we rubbed the lock cills.  It is also disappointing to see more "leave empty" locks, something that will bug us for the next few days, as the number seems to grow, with very few ever being fixed.

Tring summit was charming, with the sun shining through the trees, but the level again a little low, despite the bore hole pump running at Cow Roast.   Is there now a policy to keep the summit lower, I wonder - we hear it is now very problematic for deep draughted boats to be pulled out on the slip way at Cow Roast Marina, due to consistently lower water levels.

We took a longish stop for a meal and general boat servicing at Cow Roast.  This was mainly to let the engine oil settle, and re-check levels.  Fortunately all looked good, so we were able to continue.

I had been steering up until now, but Cath took over for each lock as we started to descend from the summit.  I was relieved to find my damaged shoulder didn't stop me winding paddles, though tugging on some of the gates seemed harder than usual.  Boats had gone ahead of us whilst we were moored at Cow Roast, so now even most of the locks that are not "leave empty" needed filling before we could enter them.

Berkhamsted was "fairly full" on arrival, but suitable spaces were available.  We got our son Michael to pick us up, and take us home for the night, from where tis is now being written.  With no car we haven't exactly worked out how we, the dog, and all our worldly goods are getting back there to continue our journey today, though!

Cooks Wharf to Berkhamsted
Miles: 7.9, Locks: 16
Total Miles: 22.9, Locks: 31

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