Neither Chris nor I slept at all well at Braunston Saturday night. Not because of problems with AmyJo (there were none) or because of where we were, for our location was as still and as quite as could be. If someone dropped a pin in the marina I'm sure we would have heard it for the utter hush the night gave us on the cut. Except that is during the night I developed a racking cough that kept us both awake (and I'm sure everyone nearby) though Chris was awake for another reason, I'll explain later.
By 7am I had had enough and got up to make a cupper and raddle the fire back to life so as to warm the boat. The view outside was amazing with a sharp frost covering everywhere.
|The frost made the muddy tow path walk-able without getting covered in mud.
When we reached Braunston locks they were all set against us but while working the first lock a gentleman walking his dog (a boater too) and to whom we are indebted kindly offered to go ahead and set the next locks in our favour.
As we reached the next lock he returned to let us know a coal boat was waiting for us in the next lock. We then worked the remaining locks with the coal boat and while at it bought a bag of coal off him. We thanked the coal boat owner (Bryan) for waiting for us when at the top lock and let him go on ahead.
We got through Braunston tunnel without any other boats appearing and at the other side we start to notice broken ice where Bryan’s boat had gone though. This continued to Norton Junction where he carried on to Bucky while we turned left onto the Leicester branch heading back to Crick. It was here we encountered more ice. We did begin to wonder if it was wise to continue but as it was thin we kept going.
|Approaching Norton Junction, Buckby is straight on but we needed to turn left
|The Junction itself is 41.25 from Leicester.
|The old Toll office.
There used to be two toll clerks, and boats for the Leicester were
gauged in the swing bridge while those on the main were gauged at the
adjoining main line bridge
|Starting our turn
|It was so tight it was almost like winding. I guess 70ft boats must find it tricky.
|Bridge No.l. The original cast iron swing bridge (installed as an
economy in lieu of the brick bridge first intended) was damaged
beyond repair when a hire boat collided with it in 1973. A wooden
footbridge has now been substituted
The ice continued for a few miles but by the time we got to the Watford locks there was none to be seen.
It was at the Locks I then found out what had kept Chris awake that night. She really wanted to take AmyJo through the locks herself and had been really worried about it all night as she has not had any chance to manoeuvre AmyJo up to now. I did my best to re-assured her she would be fine and so she made her mind up, took charge and insisted in taking AmyJo up the flight which, with help and advise from Phil, the lock keeper of the day, she did, only glancing lightly of one wall on the way up. Now I’m sure she was a boat woman in her past life cos she’s a much better helm than me (don’t tell her though). After the first three locks she was totally at ease handling AmyJo without any problem at all. It was clear the money spent on the helmsman's course was paying off.
|Smiling with relief Chris enters the lock perfectly
To be honest I'm really quite please Chris wants to, and feels she can, helm AmyJo. In our sailing life it is most important for a crew member to be able to handle the dinghy in case the man overboard was the helm. This, through practise I might add, is something Chris can now do with her eyes closed when under sail. I feel much better knowing if anything happened to me Chris could deal with AmyJo if and when the need arose.
After Watford locks we had an uneventful passage through a very wet Crick Tunnel and then we arrived back at the Marina mid afternoon.
We got onto our mooring, washed AmyJo down, packed up and prepared her for cold weather, just in case as we're not sure just when we'll get out on her again.
So a lovely, if cold, weekend is over and we're now counting down the days until we can get back on board. Strange really, we're getting to the point now where we would rather be on AmyJo than at home...wonder why :-)