Friday, 17 August 2018

Things Definitely Not Going To Plan

(With both boats - posted by Alan)
(Retrospective Post for Tuesday 14th August

Well there was a clear plan for today.  A very short trip from Atherstone Locks up to Grendon Dock, where we would watch the boats go into the dock, and give them a quick look over, before leaving them there for the week to have their hulls blacked. (I'd even bought some "Wellies" in Atherstone to keep my feet dry!).

At Grendon - the problematic dock is in the background.
The reality turned out to be rather different.  Initially nobody was at the dock for the agreed arrival time of 9:00 a.m.   When two men did turn up, one suggested with the pound several inches down that getting the boats into the dock might be a challenge.  "Bring the big one in first", he said, "the bows will go in, but we may have to motor it a bit to get it all in".  Well the bows never really went in - they got just about as far as the raised gate to the dock, where we were then stuck very firm, with the deeper back end of the boat already raised several inches out of the water.

After much thrashing, heavy engine running, and pulling on ropes, we had not moved at all.  It was decided instead to see if Sickle might clear a passage, but first it took a lot of effort to get Flamingo "unstuck", and moved enough to allow a straight approach on "Sickle".

Sickle actually fared much less well, and never managed to get within 20 feet of the dock entrance.  We fairly quickly agreed with the Alvecote employees that it was highly unlikely we would get either boat in.  More of a worry was that if we succeeded, and levels did not improve through the wee, we were highly unlikely to get them out either.

So the planned docking had to be abandoned.  We agreed we would take both boats up to Alvecote, where they would have been heading for the event in rather less than a fortnight's time anyway.  On the journey up the low level became more obvious, and the boats were regularly rubbing the bottom, despite being where the channel might reasonably have been expected to be.

We were advised to moor them in the basin in front of the Samuel Barlow, but again the low levels meant we couldn't even get them within 12 feet of the bank.  As the dogs needed to be got off, and can't jump over 12 feet, that was never going to work.

Nobody had a firm suggestion where to leave them, and it is too early to move them into the pontoons they will be lined up on for the show, as these are used by paying moorers.  So the best we could do was leave them tied up outside the marina.

Our car was at Grendon, which is where we had expected to drive home from.  So the gentleman from Alvecote drove me down there, and I then returned to Alvecote.  Cath and I loaded everything in the car, including the dogs, and went away to consider what happens now.

Even then our day continued not to go to plan.  We needed to drive first to Weedon to collect our other car.  For some reason Google Maps took us some highly convoluted route via the M6, even though that is the subject of miles and miles of 50MPH speed restrictions.

We also knew that to get to home from Weedon we would normally pass down the A5 through Towcester, and that part of that is closed for long term roadworks.  We thought we knew a route around them that we had used on the way up, but didn't realise they had now additionally closed the road South of Towcester.  It took a while to extricate ourselves from that mess as well.

Not only are the Towcester road closures going on to November, the A4146 Linslade / Leighton Buzzard bypass is also being closed for a couple of months - another part of our natural route to and from our mooring.  In fact the Northbound road was already fully closed, but apparently the South will remain open for some of the time they work on that.  Then the situation will be reversed. 

With the Linslade and the Towcester closures combined, it looks like for some months we will be forced to go to and from our mooring by the  M1 instead.  "Deep joy!, as the expression goes!

Atherstone, Bottom of Locks) to Grendon Dock Alvecote Marina

Miles per boat: 5.0, Miles both boats: 10.0, Locks: 0
Total Miles both boats: 103.0,  Total Locks both boats: 43

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