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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.

Monday 13 November 2023

Collision inevitable

 Yesterday was not a day for travelling . For a start it rained a lot but more importantly Ian had to rest that knee of his as doing all those locks yesterday caused him no end of pain. Talk about the both of us being a right pair of crocks! Anyway there is nothing quite like sitting in front of a roaring fire, listening to the rain beating down and feeling the warmth.

We again woke to rain this morning, the wind was also an issue. Yet another named storm had arrived, Storm Debi! By 8.30 am the rain had cleared, and it was touch and go whether we left today. By 9 am Ian reckoned his knee felt better and the Braunston flight wouldn't be a problem, so wind or not, tiller went on and Ian shoved FS away from the side with the pole.


Gosh the state of the towpaths were terrible. Awash with water the run off was continual. From the fields I expect but those dog waters and runners would have to go for a paddle.

Braunston tunnel loomed ahead, a carpet of leaves went right up to the entrance. Then a weird phenomena occurred, Ian could see a headlight, but we were nowhere near the entrance. A boat never emerged so what was going on? Hmm, does Braunston tunnel have a ghost? Turns out there was a boat in the tunnel, I only saw it as I got nearer to the mouth so how that headlight was seen from afar was a mystery.

Ah, now we could see a light.

 Braunston Tunnel has bendy bits but the most notorious is the S bend at the Eastern end. That headlight we could see was extremely bright and I wondered if I should hold back instead of entering. Well I wish now I had because no sooner had I stuck FS's bow into the dark, I realised just how close that S bend was. I stopped, tried to hold FS hard against the wall and if it had just been that boat approaching that inevitable collision wouldn't have happened.


So here is the scenario, Both our boats sidle past without touching but immediately behind, (and I do mean immediately) was another boat. Blimey its headlight being of an orange colour and angled in such a way as to effectively make us both incapable of seeing anything at all (see above photo and notice the slight orange glow behind the bright white light). What with FS bow being pulled out by the first boat, I could do nothing as FS was dragged away from the side. I tried in vain to correct the angle but consequently we hit....and hit hard... FS bounced off its side and straight back into the wall. Likewise that other boat did the same. I did apologise, said I was completely blinded by his light and just maybe his following so close behind another boat in a tunnel wasn't a good idea. I had no reply, just a stony silence. It was unfortunate that this occurred, I was as much to blame no doubt as he was but the moral to this tale is following too close can and will cause a collision! 

The rest of the way was clear and a good speed was had just so I could escape as soon as possible. Tunnels have never been and never will be my idea of fun!


The locks were manned by two CRT volunteers, which would have meant a lovely quick passage down the flight but unfortunately boats were also coming up and every one without a locking buddy. Each lock had been turned so a wait was necessary at every one. With that wind blowing a hooley I really struggled and told the volunteer at one lock I would only exit when the whites of the other boaters eyes could be seen!

Waiting in the lock

Bottom of the flight and if we had wanted to stop well forget it! Wall-to-wall boats, some with git gaps, and not a mooring to be had. After stopping briefly at Midland Chandlers so Ian could get paint, we made our way out of Braunston and found a lovely rural, but windy mooring past bridge 88. 

Midland Chandlers mooring

Oxford Canal

And wildlife

What was it doing?

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