The weather was set to turn nasty, storm Ciaran is on its way, so it was important that we reach our destination today, the Plough. With rain overnight, hoped for calmer and dryer conditions in the morning. I took Toffee again first thing, awake early because of the wind. It rattled our solar panels, and usually Ian would put wooden wedges underneath to stop them from moving but clean forgot last night. Anyway it was drizzling, the kind of fine droplets that gets into places least expected. Toffee was not for hurrying and consequently I ended up walking further than planned. So a wet bedraggled dog and me had to towel off as I entered the boat. Ian had already made the tea, so I undressed again and got back into bed!
It was dry as we set off and remained so for a good while. Soulbury Three was only about had a mile away and Ian set off with Toffee by his side to get the locks ready. A fishing match was due to start and as it was well before 9 am expected to hear the whistle to get them fishing by 9. Nop turns out they wouldn't be starting the match until 10 am. Gosh, they set up early and they were more after the bottom lock too.
Approaching the top of Soulbury locks more of those chaps in bright hi viz orange jackets. We encountered them on our way to Marsworth several days ago. Taking measurements and surveying the locks, seems this must take quite a while.
Today the wind had really picked up and holding the boat whilst the lock filled was never going to be easy. But with the locks so close together, one paddle was raised for me to start the descent and Ian walked on to fill the centre lock. This is a tried and tested way and usually to get down a flight would go quite quickly. But we hadn't planned for a boat to be on the bottom lock landing. No sign of life so Ian was not sure whether to fill the lock for me or not. Then out popped a chap who said he was ready to ascend. So I stayed in the middle lock with the gate open and waited,
I must have waited for a sign that this boat was coming up for over 10 minutes. Ian eventually arrived back and said the chap was warming up his gear box and had to make a quick phone call but not to turn the lock around. Blimey...I could have been down that last lock by now. I know water shouldn't be wasted but to make us wait for 10 minutes while he made a phone call is not playing the game in my book and what was he doing mooring on the landing overnight! Anyway turns out he is taking this work boat to London. The original owner died recently and he wanted to continue trading but with this being Jules Fuel patch run by Paul, decided an opening for a fuel boat was was available on the Thames.
In the meantime a CRT volunteer arrived. Wow, I thought they finished at the end of October but turns out they will man these locks until Wyvern boat hire company tell them no more boats will be going out. He took over from Ian which meant he could get back on board on the last lock.
It was at Stoke Hammond lock that I noticed both gates open and top gate paddles raised. Got for me but it did get me wondering who had left the lock like this. I don't think it was the surveyors, well I would like to think they wouldn't be so irresponsible as to walk away leaving paddles up but who knows?.
Lock done and dusted it wasn't long before we reached the boatyard at Willowbridge and on tickover when a horrible droning/drumming sound from the engine could be heard. It coincided with the bread machine going on as well as the electric kettle. Then a horrible smell of burning rubber. Ian had a thought that the drive belt for the generator may be slipping. Just beyond the bridge cladding was seen, good place to stop but although the bow came towards the bank, the stern remained stubbornly out in the channel. The only way to get off was to walk down the gunwale. Anyway turns out it wasn't the belt or rubbish around the prop and we can only assume it was the engine labouring because both electrical appliances had been switched on at the same time.
Once ready to leave I reversed FS back to the bridge. It was easier for Ian to try and get back on there after pushing the bow away from the bank. That done it was off to Fenny Stratford, through the lock with that swingbridge and onto our destination at Simpson. We had got moored, Ian was sorting out the TV aerial and I had only just got back on board after taking a photo when the forecasted rain arrived. Gosh, it was heavy. Ian dived for cover but it was literally like someone had turned on a tap and then almost immediately turned it off again, that short lived was the downpour!
The final mooring place for FS was actually further along the canal. We couldn't get TV and a tree was in the way of a satellite so we moved another boat length to a gap in the trees. Im happy now, got TV and a few catch up programs can be watched whilst sitting here for two or three days waiting for Toffee to leave us,
The barometer is dropping rapidly. The gold pointer was where the reading was this morning. This was taken after mooring. Best hunker down and hope what trees are around us will stay upright!
And Toffee posing at the lock, shame the three weeks are nearly up.