Friday, 6 April 2018

New territory for "Flamingo" under our ownership.

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)
Thursday 5th April

So having started our trip out yesterday in fairly damp conditions, we were pleased to wake up at Buckby today with some reasonable sunshine.  We had gone to bed with concerns that the highly unsuitable 230 volt pump that our central heating pump relies on was trashing our batteries far too fast, and they might be depleted enough by morning to do damage.  Fortunately the situation was not as bad as feared, but the full time reliance on this horrible thing certainly limits our options with winter boating.  It had been planned to rebuild the central heating to use a less power hungry 12 volt pump last year, but this is another plan that had to be shelved because of Michael's accident.

The excellent tug "Lead-Us" owned by a former Willow Wren boatman
We made a fairly relaxed start, and unusually, given how busy the canals are, managed a passage of Braunston tunnel without passing a single boat coming the other way.  The descent of Braunston locks, mostly shared with another boat was very slow, largely due to the slowness of crews on the boats we were following.  We never seem to get lucky and get through Braunston locks quickly any more.  A hold up seems to be the norm these days, and although there are volunteer lock keepers they seem to never be anywhere in the flight but the bottom lock!

We urgently needed a replacement stove chimney, so I called at the chandlery at the foot of the locks.  However all suitably sized chimneys either looked unlikely to last, or were expensive, (or both!), so I pressed on to Midland Chandlers.  I'm not sure what I bought there will last any longer, (few of them seem to), but at least it was cheaper!

The stretch of the Oxford Canal that is shared by the Grand Union was passed fairly slowly, with lots of having to stop suddenly at obscured bridges - there really was quite intensive traffic, some of it hire boaters struggling a bit with the basics.

Finally we turned on to the Southern Oxford proper, and it came as a bit of a shock.  It is very much shallower and "muckier" than what we turned off from, and progress for the first couple of miles has been pedestrian, to put it mildly.  Once again we are forced to accept that whilst default time estimates using the excellent CanalPlanAC journey planner could easily be matched with our old leisure boat "Chalice", it is almost inevitable that any trip in "Flamingo" will be a lot slower than those estimates.

Braunston locks - nearly at the bottom.
We had intended to tackle Napton locks this evening, (and hence find out if "Flamingo" will go through them or not).  However we arrived tired, and later than expected, and decided to grab the one mooring that looked long enough for us while we could.  The broad plan was to walk up for a reconnaissance, and perhaps then take the boat up.  We watched a modern leisure boat descend through what is reputed to be the narrowest of the locks in the flight.  It certainly is narrow, but it didn't look impossible, even for an old boat, maybe some 3" wider.

Then the "Folly" lured us in, particularly as dogs could go inside, (with "well behaved owners", it said!).  The plan was one drink - the reality was multiple drinks, and another meal out we had not actually planned to buy.  Very good actually, and clearly doing well, with most tables having reservations on them, even mid week.

So the question 'will "Flamingo" fit through Napton locks?' is actually going to get answered a day later than originally planned.

The internet signal here is patchy, so it remains to be seen if I can upload this blog entry from here.

Long Buckby to Napton Bottom Lock
Miles: 12.0, Locks: 7
Total Trip Miles: 18.2, Locks: 13


  1. Well, Chertsey did, so fingers crossed!

  2. Your crossed fingers didn't help Sarah - see next post!
    I suspect if you put enough ballast in Chertsey to bring its bows down to where Flamingo's are, it would get similarly stuck. Very disappointing, but at least we know now.


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