Monday, 2 July 2018

To Braunston without our extra crew member.

(With both boats - posted by Alan
(Retrospective Post for Thursday 21st June)

Setting off from our home moorings.
Last year the difficulties  with the gearbox on the new engine that had been fitted to "Sickle" meant that our planned schedule for the boats got heavily disrupted, and "Sickle" never made it to the big Braunston Historic Boat Show.  We did manage to get "Flamingo" there, however.

So we were very keen this year that both boats should make it, if at all possible.  We also had one set of canal based friends looking for some festival accommodation, and had invited one of our non canal based friends along as well.  To reasonably accommodate everybody going, we needed both back cabins available.

I set off alone into the tunnel - Flamingo stays behind
Almost invariably when we travel with both boats we take David along as well.  It is fairly hard work, and just the two of us struggle to make good progress on our own through locks.  The lock free pounds are less of a problem, as we each simply take control of one boat, but even that means the dogs left in a cabin on their own.  This year we decided to get more adventurous and see how Cath and I got on working the two boats with no other crew - the challengers were two lock flights, (Buckby and Braunston), but also Braunston tunnel, as the dogs are not keen on tunnels, and we usually ensure someone is inside with them, providing suitable distraction if there is any scraping or bumping of sides passing other boats.

We managed a pint at the Nelson, but were too late for a meal.
The lock flight problem can be solved by breasting the two boats together - roping them side by side, and operating as one large 14 foot wide "boat".  This however keeps the steerer pretty occupied, so whoever works the locks has to work quite hard, as every gate at every lock has to be opened and closed at least once, often more.  The steerer can offer some support with a bit of gate work, and even the occasional paddle wound, but the other person still does the lion's share of the physical work.

The only solution to the tunnel problem, however involved us tying up "Flamingo" before the tunnel.  I then took "Sickle" through on my own, and tied it up, (and locked it up) at the other end.  I then walked back over the top of the tunnel, to rejoin "Flamingo" at the other end, before taking that through, allowing Cath to share the cabin with the dogs.  It was a baking hot day, and walking over the tunnel seemed to take a great deal longer than either trip boating through it!

Nearly there - towards the bottom of Braunston flight.
As usual we didn't manage to leave our mooring in the morning until far later than planned.  As a consequence it was pretty late by the time we arrived in Braunston, and we were further delayed because many "historics" were already in situ, and nobody could find us another boat to tie up to that the dogs could cross to get to the tow-path, (the unusual entry arrangements to "Flamingo's" cabin heavily restrict who we can moor against, if we have to go outside of other boats).  In the end we became the first to occupy a length of tow-path further up, where no "historics" yet were.  By now all plans that we might eat in the Admiral Nelson had to be cancelled, as we were well past their time for last food orders.  Just as well then that we had manage to grab a pint at the pub on the way down the locks.

High House Wharf, Weedon to Braunston
Miles per boat: 10.5, Miles both boats: 21.0, Locks: 13

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