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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Misunderstandings, wrong call and something you older men would be proud of!

Leaving Banbury late because we were in need of a bit of retail therapy (trainers for Ian and a small rucksack for me) we had no end of holdups at the locks. At least three boats in front and heaven know how much more further along. Note to oneself....do as Debbie and James did, leave early to avoid the queues!

The locks were a pain to fill. Had to be done slowly because of FS's sudden surge forward as the water rushed in. All I could do was keep the engine revs in reverse to keep her well back on the bottom gate. Hard work I can tell you but then I said "how about keeping the nose on the top gate and letting the fender take all the pressure"  "Okay," he said, "let's try it". This was so much easier, never touched the throttle at all but our poor fender, a bit battered now.

Cropredy was a nightmare with all those moored boats. It's all to do with the festival which starts during next week so very little room for boats to pass by.






Then, on reaching the facilities, we had a misunderstanding with another couple when we went to pull alongside a Kate hire boat which was already filling with water. The opposite was a boat with a lady holding a rope. We didn't know if she was waiting for water or mooring until we had a scathing remark saying they were waiting for water and was next. Fair enough but I happened to say we had nowhere to stop other than breasted up with the hire boat. She implied that I should have stopped before we got to the block but....where? I did say we would pull back and let them use the water first (maybe I sounded a bit grumpier than I should)  but her hubby came storming out, said we had no respect for anyone other than ourselves and with that started the engine and pulled away. I don't know if they read this blog, I don't think so as I'm sure they would have said but if you are reading this and felt we had jumped the queue, we apologise 'cause that's the last thing we want to do, upset anyone.


Difficult to see but the hire boat is at the very end on the left. A long line of boats with nowhere to stop and the irate boater was opposite the hire boat, which incidentally was right by a bridge hole!

Looking from the bridge 'ole  The irate boater was moored on the left and the hire boat on the facilities (out of shot) on the right. So where would we have stopped??
 Passed Lois Jane at the bottom of Claydon flight of 5 locks and a quick hello from within. We're not stalking you...honest!  Anyway most locks were against so hovering in the low pounds became the norm.




The middle lock had massive damage to the bottom gate balance beam. I can't see how a boat could have done this, more likely the wood had rotted and too many people sitting on it snapped the beam. (unless you know different)





Our plan initially was to stop above Claydon Top lock but we felt a further one hour of travel would get us to Fenny Compton. Oh, why didn't we stop above the lock! Little did we know quite how low the top pound was. Not a short pound either at least 10 miles long and although the first part seemed okay, we soon hit a very silted section and struggled to make any headway. Coming to the lift bridge I all but stopped dead trying to get through and judging by those skies felt we were also in for one hell of a soaking.


Then we reached the narrows! OMG if this was one place where we did NOT want to meet another boat it was here. I tried to reverse away from the entrance and got stuck! So now FS was across the canal, with the stern unable to move and the bow sucked into the mud. Whilst Ian got out the trusty pole, and me trying reverse, we did manage to get clear of the entrance. In the meantime, the other boat had found a layby and had pulled in. Nothing for it but for me to go in. As we got nearer another OMG moment when we realised a second boat was coming into view. Somehow we all managed to get past each other and I couldn't thank both boaters enough for letting us go past.



One boat in the layby and the other boat in the distance.

In we went.
 Arriving at Fenny Compton we pulled onto the service point for diesel (74p self-declare), only to be told by the owner they had shut at 4 pm. Drat missed the deadline by 15 minutes! Good news though as the owner said we could stay for the night and would fill FS's tank in the morning. Great, we thought but he won't be opening until 10 am. Looks like another late start then!

And just for you men,


Now, that's what I call a good stream!


 And today's wildlife,

Why swim across when you can walk!








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