Thursday, 2 July 2015

Two Boats to the Braunston Historic Boat Show - a First for us.

(Boats Sickle & Flamingo - posted by Cath)

"Sickle" & "Flamingo take a break from travelling together.
After Stoke Bruerne Alan and I and our son David took both boats up to High House Wharf Marina - Flamingo to her regular mooring, and Sickle to the towpath. Then we went home to go and deal with life again - washing, shopping, admin stuff, and for me and our son David, dancing out in Milton Keynes and again in Ivinghoe, the home town of our Morris side, New Moon.

We are nearly back at "Flamingo's" home mooring.

Thursday 25th June

"Sickle" passes its once closest relative "Theophilus" awaiting restoration.
We went back to High House to carry on with work on Flamingo, then on Thursday 25th June we set off north just after lunch, with both boats. Alan steering Flamingo, and I steered Sickle. Odin the dog was in the cabin of Flamingo, where he could be safe and comfortable. It was a pleasant afternoon and I found it extremely enjoyable heading North with our boats.

"Flamingo" heads up Bucky locks ahead of "Roger".

"Roger" slips into a lock alongside "Flamingo".
We had decided that with only two of us, and the dog, it would not be a good idea to work both the boats up the Buckby flight at the same time. This is because they cannot be tied together to work as breasted up, Flamingo has a full cabin and there are no points to attach to. So we left Sickle tied up at the bottom of the flight, and set off up the locks with Flamingo. At the second lock we were asked to wait for Roger, the wooden boat from the Rickmansworth Waterways Trust, and worked up the flight with their cheerful crew. Despite low water in the pound below the top lock we managed to moor there, and then Alan and I set off back to the bottom to get Sickle.

Both boats are of similar age, but constructed in different materials.
We finally tied up at just before 9 pm, but found that the New Inn stopped doing food at 8, so back to Flamingo to cook a quick meal.

Friday 26th June

 Our two historic boats share a lock for the first time in our ownership.
Being fairly tired we didn't rush breakfast and then set off through the top lock with both the boats. The first time that we have ever had the two boats together in a lock.

 Buckby top lock.

This gives some idea how much longer "Flamingo" is than "Sickle".
Then, across the summit, to the beginning of the Braunston Tunnel. At this point we had something of a dilemma. Odin has developed something of a phobia about tunnels. We are not going to make a fuss about this, but at the moment he needs someone around doing things in the cabin while we are going through the tunnel. This meant taking the boats through the tunnel separately.

First of two descents of Braunston locks.

"Flamingo" & "Adrastea" in "Nelson" Lock, Braunston.
We took Flamingo through the tunnel, and down the locks, sharing with the rather lovely Adrastea - not an historic boat, but paying fair homage to one.  Alan was deep in conversation with its owner, another Alan, who also opeates the fuel boat Bletchley.  We found a nice mooring on the outside of two other 'Town Class' boats - Chertsey and Stanton. These are both unconverted boats, and ideal for us, because Odin needs to be able to get from the 'gap' in Flamingo - between the cabin conversion and the engine room - to the towpath. Because all three boats were facing in the same direction Odin could cross over the 'back end' at the back of the cargo hold of these boats where there are planks. He quickly found a new friend, Rocky, staying on Chertsey.

"Flamingo" tied outside other "Large" GUCCCo boats.

Ron Withey (left) captained "Flamingo" and "Cygnus" throughout 1970.
We should have gone back fairly quickly to collect "Sickle" from the other side of the tunnel, but Alan got talking to Ron Withey, who came past on the towpath. Ron is the last Willow Wren 'captain' of Flamingo, and we have photos of him steering her in 1970, so it was fascinating to be able to talk to him. 

Alan heads alone into a rather smoke filled Braunston tunnel.

I bring "Sickle" past "Flamingo", "Stanton" & "Chertsey"
Eventually we  walked back up the flight of locks, over the top of the tunnel to Sickle, which Alan brought through the tunnel alone, while I walked Odin over the top to meet Alan on the other side. Then down the locks and moored Sickle next to the steam tug Hasty.

We then headed off to the Admiral Nelson pub with Odin and a friend who was in Braunston for the Festival. An excellent meal, and good company.

Stoke Bruerne to High House Wharf 
Miles: 20.2, Locks: 0

High House Wharfto Braunston
Miles: 21.2, Locks: 25

(Miles assume two different boat moves, and lock count reflects all but one worked twice)

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