Thursday, April 26, 2012

Let the cruising begin and an encounter with the President

On Tuesday night we went to the Coffee Pot at Yardley Gobion for our farewell drinks with Russell, Tracy and Mumsie Macey !  We thanked Ben, the Landlord, for his hospitality over the past few weeks - it really helped us to be made so welcome in a foreign country!

We woke up on Wednesday morning to howling winds and driving rain (drought!).  A lie-in was in order!  However, after midday the weather had abated and we severed the umbilical cord (shore power) and set sail!

We were going to postpone our departure for another day but we knew we wouldn't be able to go back to the Coffee Pot (look what happened to Capt Cook when he returned to Hawaii !)

Our first stop was at the bottom of the Stoke Bruene lock flight.  The locks are padlocked between 3 pm and 10 am the following day to conserve water because of the DROUGHT !  So, on Wednesday evening, we took a walk up the flight to the pub at the top lock called the 'Boat Inn'; we would have to say it was a nice looking pub but a very cliquey village crowd within - crowded into the small, canalside bar.  They all had dogs, and so did we, but we somehow felt like intruders into a private party :(  Never mind, one drink and back to the cosy Caxton. 

 On Thursday morning, we were ready to go just after 10 am but we hung around waiting to see if another boat would come up with us.  After nearly an hour of hanging around (and helping people coming down at the bottom lock), we thought 'Bugger it' ... and off we went !
The boys watching Caxton rise up in the lock
At the first lock we met a boat coming the other way called 'Moon Shadow' and the owners turned out to be a couple of Aussies - who lived approx 3 km from our old address ! They came out last June -on a five year cruise.

On our way through the flight we went through rain, hail, gale force winds and a bit of sunshine (DROUGHT !)

At the top lock we helped a boat through - Elaine found out that her hubbie had developed Parkinson's disease and this was his 'Swan Song' - so sad, but he was having a good time.  There but for the Grace of God ....

We stopped after the top lock at Stoke Bruene for lunch ...

Top lock at Stoke Bruene

Next was a 2.8 km tunnel - the Blisworth tunnel!  It was nice to get in the tunnel, even though there was the occasional torrent coming down the ventilation shafts - but it was still a damn sight drier than being outside of it !

Entering the Blisworth tunnel
Inside the tunnel - the colours are the port nav light, the tunnel light and the starboard nav light
Exiting the tunnel !
The canal criss-crosses the west coast main line - 125 mph vs 3 mph ...
Bombo train-spotting 

Now the exciting bit ... as we were approaching a bridge hole on a blind bend, whilst it was pissing down with rain and blowing a gale I heard a whistle blow ... 

I thought that, as we were close to the railway, 'bloody great - there is a steam train coming - and I havn't got my camera handy' - but, no, it was the historic steam boat 'President' and its butty 'Kildare'...

We both stopped dead in the water and I thought that as we were a thoroughly modern boat with a diesel engine, bow thruster and the like, the best course of action would be to ram him and push him out of the way - not really, I know the rules of the road (water)!  

Three blasts on the horn and I reversed and, if I don't mind saying so, with a swift bit of manoeuvring, managed to pass him on the incorrect side, but never mind we missed each other by metres inches!  I was also shouting to Elaine, who was in the galley, to bring the camera and take some pictures - as I was a bit preoccupied.  She got some good shots ...

We were trying to get to the bottom of the Buckby flight so we could be up first thing in the morning - because it is also shut between 3 pm and 10 am because of the so-called BLOODY DROUGHT !  However, by now the wind had really picked up and, at some point, we were crabbing along at 30 degrees, which isn't much fun, so by the time we got to Weedon Bec we decided to call it a day.  We are moored up right next to the railway line, which, as an old train spotter, I am pretty happy with - although there isn't a lot of variation on the trains ... Virgin, Virgin, another Virgin !

1 comment:

  1. Now that often happens on blind bridge holes! Who decided to build that bridge there? - is a good comment to pass afterwards!
    Great to read your stories and about life aboard Caxton.
    Enjoy your explorations of the canal system. Good to hear you enjoyed Yardley Gobion - trust you'll return one day. Cleyley Bob