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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.

Thursday 9 November 2023

Was it getting any closer?

Groan... Today we have to cruise through Blisworth Tunnel, not my favourite tunnel as regular followers will know. Anyway we left it a bit later to set off, had hopes that any early boaters would have already gone through and hoped to have clear passage without another boat coming. So with one early boater passing us whilst on the mooring our hopes were high that the last two locks of the Stoke Bruerne flight would be empty. Not to be though, both were full which suggested that passing boat had moored for the night just out of our sight. 


The pound between those locks was low, Ian would normally have gone ahead to get the next lock ready but he too is now suffering with the knees. Loads of painkillers taken and Ibuprofen gel rubbed on at least three times a day. I had a message from Marilyn (Waka Huia) mentioning  a magnesium cream for aching muscles, joint pain and cramp relief. Once we get to Atherstone, a trip to the pharmacy to see if we can purchase the gel will be our first port of call. 

Blast the tunnel was not clear. A boat headlight could be seen in the distance so bang goes our quick and clear passage I though.

You can just make out the pinpoint of light in the distance

Fully expecting to at least meet half way, the boat never appeared to be getting any closer. We were almost at the north portal before we finally met. It was a hire boat with the hirers really not comfortable about going through. The boat was barely on tickover so no wonder it was still very much at the northern end. I can fully understand the apprehension, tunnels can be scary even to some that are seasoned boaters and I'm one of those! My fear (apart from the supernatural) is if something happened during the cruise through. One never knows and you just have to remember what happened in the Harecastle tunnel 2914!

We stopped briefly at Blisworth just before the road bridge. Two motorhome mats had been ordered from motorhome essentials not 10 minutes walk from the canal. No cladding to secure ropes too and putting pins in was a challenge. We couldn't get the stern into the side and the wind was a real hindrance trying to push FS back into the channel. Throwing ropes has never been my forte, in fact on my boat handling coarse many years ago, instead of throwing the rope toward the examiner, it ended flying off behind me. I think I passed because it gave him a good laugh! So the rope did end up on the bank but not where it was supposed to land, right by the pin Ian was hammering in, Ian had hoped to secure the rope quickly but was understandably not amused as he had to haul on the rope to bring the stern back before tying off! I then had to race inside the length of the boat to repeat the procedure at the bow. Phew...no complaints from Ian this time as I did finally get the rope to where he wanted it.

We had stopped before the bridge not knowing if there were any mooring spaces beyond it. Well I wish we had second sight because hardly a boat moored on the other side and if we had known, would have saved all that aggravation! 

Another 40 minutes and we stopped for lunch. In fact, it was such a nice mooring we decided to stay. The weather from being lovely and sunny had started to change, rain was in the air and the wind was now gusting. No TV at this spot but it's open enough for the Snipe to find the satellite so happy about that. Tomorrow we do the Buckby Flight and then a decision will have to be made. Do we turn right at Norton Junction and head towards the River Soar along the GU Leicester line, or continue towards Braunston. Which ever decision we make, there will be no going back.

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