Indigo Dreaming

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The Odyssey – Summer 2008 Day 8

Posted by indigodream on 13 June, 2008

Marsworth Junction to Soulbury Three locks (past bottom lock)

I think we’re finally getting over our ‘no holiday for 6 months’ tiredness as we both woke refreshed at 8am. We left our mooring at 9am (earliest so far) though the move had a certain urgency to it – we ran out of water! Not a big deal as we’d moored opposite a water point to fill up this morning but it’s a tremendous motivator if you know that the loo won’t work until you’ve visited the water point!

Practical Points:

When the water tank is running dry then the water pump makes a different noise – listen out for it if you haven’t filled up for a few days.

There’s no need to fill the tank every day but do keep an eye on consumption. We’ve left it 4 days but that was a bit tight, as we’d been having four showers a day between us in the hot weather! Talking to other boaters some have meters fitted which they are very happy with. Richard is very tempted but it will need a bit of a change in the position of the pump.

Depending on local water pressure, an empty tank takes a minimum of 30 minutes to fill.

Although the water tank was empty the toilet tank was full so we stopped for a pump-out at Pitstone wharf. There’s a chandlery here as well but their pump-out machine was a bit feeble. If you don’t know what a pump out is then here goes: We have a Tecma Macerator Toilet. Great bit of kit, works well. good support from Aquafax. The toilet pumps waste into a big stainless steel tank that we have inside our engine compartment – most boats have their tank under the bed or dinette but as we have an extra long back deck we could move plumbing bits out of the main living space. When the tank fills you need to find a pump out machine which normally requires a token from a shop or a BW pump out card. Timing is everything so first read the instructions on the machine, open up the pump out point, unravel the big hose and put the business end into the pump out point. Put your token or card into the machine, press the start button and open up the handle on the business end – normally a big red handle. Once you see through the sight glass that flow is stopping, close the handle and hit pause on the machine as you should have time to flush your tank. Take the hose out and pour some water into your tank – don’t use your drinking water hose unless you can keep it well away from the hole. We aim for a minimum of 2 minutes flow, ideally 5 minutes if we know the machine. Put the hose back in and pump out again by hitting start or whatever the instructions tell you to do. Once your tank is empty suck in a bit of canal water to clean the end of the pump out hose. Add your chosen toilet chemical – we use a green alternative but “Blue” is most people’s choice. [1]

It is a very strange arrangement at Pitstone Wharf as you moor up against another boat and drag the pump out hose across their boat. As we turned the nozzle down towards the hole a lot of mess came out. Handle seemed a bit incomplete so awkward to use. Granted we have a tank the size of a small boat but this is the first machine we have encountered that could not fully pump out our tank before time ran out, hence no doubt the mess inside the tube.

carpPitstone Wharf is on the edge of a large winding hole which is absolutely full of huge carp. Someone had thrown some bread in the water and the fish were right on the surface gulping it down noisily. Some were the full metre long though a local BW man said that they get bigger!

We had an interesting trip through the locks this morning as we caught up with a boat that had been hired by a consultancy specialising in team building. They run 3-day narrowboat-based teambulding courses. We shared locks with one of their boats – a gathering of RBS Business Managers from the NE were apparently on a timed team task so their mission was to get through the locks as fast as possible. This meant that we had a huge crew at each lock with some of the team running between locks to get the next one ready. Richard enjoyed the pace and the company – he was ahead of the game because he could cycle between locks and so was a valuable additional member of the team! I supplied them with a few slices of bread for their lunch (they’d run out) and generally kept up with their boat. The crew did tend to get carried away – at one point they tried to close the locks gate before the boat was in and it wasn’t unusual for them to open paddles before the lock gates were shut (much shouting ensued – no harm done). They tried to beat Richard at closing gates without Richard even noticing but being mean Richard never told them the secret (push right at the end of the balance beam). Their task was to get to the pub at Grove by 2.30pm and they just made it!

leaving the rolling hills behindAfter that we were by ourselves – I was relieved as I’d caught a little of the urge to speed from the team build and had to remind myself that I was on holiday! We passed through some pretty countryside today – a different character to the Aylesbury Arm – not so ‘prim and proper’. We left the Chilterns behind and they made for an attractive rolling backdrop to our trip.

On the wildlife front I noticed that the towpaths had more meadow flowers than previously – red clover, buttercups, red campion and one very pretty flower which I think is Square-stemmed Willowherb. I also spotted a marsh mallow! In one spot there were warning signs on the towpath flanking a large leaved plant – “Giant Hogweed Do not touch”. I can’t remember what the Giant Hogweed does to you if you do touch it but it must be pretty nasty to warrant a warning sign!

Hitch-hikerWe had relatively few locks to do in the afternoon as the canal meandered round the contours. We largely had the canal to ourselves (bliss!) apart from four mad canoeists. One of them hitched a lift with us – apparently it was their first day of canoeing (possibly ever) and they were getting weary!

We came though the locks so fast with the teambuilders that we passed our intended mooring point (The Globe pub by bridge 111) far too early to stop so we carried on through Soulbury Three Locks and moored just below them. We ate in the ‘Three Locks’ pub – a plain and slightly shabby place but the food was really good – plain pub grub but very well done and very cheap all in a friendly environment. Note: dogs are allowed into the Thee Locks pub.


In future pass through the three locks and cruise round the corner for a quieter mooring further from the road.

[1] Did I not warn you a few days ago not to get a narrowboater started on the subject of toilets!

Big dutch barge

When you’re only seen narrowboats for a few days it comes a shock to see a giant dutch barge suddenly looming round a corner!

A heron poised for the kill!

We could take photos of heron all day – there are that many! But here’s one watching very avidly for a fish – it’s not a pose we often catch so we thought we’d share it.

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