Indigo Dreaming

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Archive for May 9th, 2011

The Odyssey 2011: Day 10

Posted by indigodream on 9 May, 2011

Friday 6th May

Henry hound looking for ducks...

We braved the tedious queues on the M25 and actually arrived at the boat just after 7.30pm – this is the first time on the odyssey that we’ve actually managed to rustle up enough will to make it up the night before cruising. But this was important – we had to fix the toilet and that was best done with just us on board as it may have involved using 1-hour drying sealant. As it happened, the leak was an easy fix (tightening the relevant connection – no sealant needed) so we went off to the Wharf Inn with the hounds – I don’t think they’re allowed inside, but there’s plenty of room in the garden and it was a warm evening. Our intention was to eat before I went off to do a late night provisions shop at Tesco.

Alas, it was not to be. As we got into the garden we spotted a couple of staffies lying quietly by their owners’ table; we headed off to the far end of the garden, just in case, and were getting the hounds’ sheepskins down when I turned and saw the horrendous sight of one of staffies twisting himself out of his harness and launching an unprovoked, silent and savage charge towards Lou. I put my hand out to push him back, but he bit me, then went for Lou’s throat. Fortunately for us, Lou’s not one to lie down and be savaged – she launched a robust defence, giving the staffie’s owners, and us, a chance to get them separated. Amazingly the dogs were fine – I was actually frightened that Lou would be killed. But only casualty was me, with a profusely bleeding but apparently superficial wound on my left hand. The staffie’s owners took him home. Lynx and Ty didn’t get involved in the fracas, but poor Ty turned instantly into jelly boy and we had to take him back to the boat, though Lynx and Lou settled onto their sheepskins and blagged lots of food

Now, I won’t launch into a diatribe here, after all my own hounds are far from perfect. I think that dog owners are split into three groups – the totally dreadful, the positively saintly and those of us in the middle who do our best but sometimes get things wrong – I think the staffie’s owners fell into this category. They were effusively apologetic, helped me to clean up my wound and later on rang the pub and paid for a pint each for us. I can only hope that they buy their dog a new harness and/or a muzzle for public use from now on.

With the attacking hound gone, we settled down to a fine meal at the pub and got into conversation with the owner of a little cruiser who moors opposite the pub – he was a simple and extremely amiable soul who breaks most of the cruising rules that we hold dear (though he does pay his licence!). I can honestly say that it was a surreal evening and I was exceptionally relieved to get back to the boat.

Saturday 7th May

Bugrooke Wharf to Braunston

From the front - Beren, Ranger, Henry and Lynx....

We had a less than ideal start to the day because I spent the morning in Northampton General’s A & E Department – I’d had a sleepless night with the intense pain from my bitten hand (out of all proportion to the size of the wound) and thought I’d better get it checked out. Richard dropped me off at the hospital (hand too painful to grip the steering wheel) and he went off to the shopping – we had guests due at 10am, so it was daft for him to hang around the hospital as well. There was a 2- hour wait for the nurse, but I was prepared this time and had taken a good book! Luckily there wasn’t anything drastic wrong with my hand – just inflammation from the force of the bite (several bruises had come up overnight and I discovered another bite on my knee!) and the start of an infection. They topped up my tetanus vaccine and gave me a prescription for antibiotics – their pharmacy doesn’t do A & E’s prescriptions so I then had to wander into Northampton town centre to find a pharmacy.

In the meantime, Richard had done the shopping, welcomed Catherine and greyhound Beren (who are still exploring life aboard) and did a car shuffle up to Braunston. While all this was happening, Sarah, with greyhounds Ranger and Henry, had arrived at the boat – I phoned through the lock combination and our hounds welcomed her on board (I do hope that they’d be a bit more demonstrative with strangers). Richard and Catherine got back to the boat, he made coffees, set the girls off down the canal in Indigo Dream then came to pick me up from Northampton.

We drove back to the canal and waited on the towpath opposite Stowe Hill Marine, hoping that the girls hadn’t, in fact, done a runner with our boat and our hounds! But they soon appeared round the bend and consented to pick us up. We weren’t on board for long – we stopped off at Stowe Hill for diesel – we’ve had good service here in the past and the base price of 85p per litre seemed ok.There was some confusion over the split which should have been 60/40 but turned out as 40/60 in our favour – fine by us and when we thought that we are running our boiler for hot water in the mornings and battery charging that is still reasonable for this time of year! The greyhounds had a walk here and Steve, the marina’s owner gave them a good fuss. Catherine had been viewing a boat here the week previously and we saw the one that she fancied – very nice!

Making a start on the Buckby flight....

We set off down the canal and I settled onto a chair on the back deck so that I could feel really sorry for myself – by now I’d taken some strong painkillers and was feeling much better, but you can’t beat a good wallow! Sarah deserves an award for humouring me rather than indulging in her own sorrow – she had to say goodbye to beloved hound Arthur last week – a devastating loss, as all dog owners know.

It’s so fortunate that we had crew today – I could have helmed (I am right handed) but pulling ropes etc was out. But I didn’t need to worry – Sarah’s is such a competent helm and Catherine continued her crash course in locking with Richard so the day proceeded smoothly.

The canal was so busy today, though we didn’t have to wait at many of the locks. We shared the Buckby locks with a hire boat whose crew expressed total knackeration after doing the flight of seven – I didn’t have the heart to tell them about Hatton!

Although Buckby was busy with hire boats, many of them stopped at the top of the flight –  “we’re not any more of these b”££$%^ today” as one crewman so eloquently said. So we had a relatively quiet passage through the Braunston tunnel and down the subsequent locks. Sarah was amazed at the speed of our passage through the tunnel – Richard’s very confident in these dark places and like to press hard on the throttle while his demoniacal laughter echoes all around. As Sarah remarked, the oncoming boats that we met were probably scared witless 🙂

The repairs to the embankment at the far end of the Braunston tunnel are amazing – proper job! About time too – the last time we came through you could hardly get past and I’d heard that the situation got worse before they eventually got round to doing the repairs.

Buckby top lock - time for a pint? Not for the intrepid Indigo Dreamers....

We stopped off for water at the Braunston service point and got rid of our rubbish. The water pressure here wasn’t good, so we sat on the path for ages waiting for the tank to fill. It’s a good spot for watching the world go by and the hounds enjoyed another little bobble. With the surrounding moorings gradually filling up, we decided to stop the watering process and moved quickly to take up an offside pub mooring. Catherine’s car was parked here and she drove Richard and Sarah back to Richard’s car (quite an achievement – three full-size adults and greyhound in a mini!), then Richard took Sarah back to her car in Bugbrooke before they both came back – Sarah picked up her hounds and headed for home. It was rather a late finish – she’d barely reach home before having to turn around to come back to us the following morning!

We left our exhausted hounds on board and ate at the pub – previously known as the Mill House Hotel but now called the Boathouse pub. We felt obliged, being as we were on their mooring, but I don’t think that they check. The pub is huge, but Richard still managed to bump into the crew of nb Two Hoots, who we met on one of the tideway convoys last year. We had a nice chat – they are genuinely lovely people and have had a few cruising adventures since we last met them. That was the highlight of the evening, the food was ok-ish, the service was dreadfully slow AND, get this……we asked whether the chef could cook us three sausages for the dogs – the manager refused to let us have them because he says we’re not allowed to take food off the premises – yes, that’ll be 3 sausages taken 100 feet from the restaurant door to the boat on the mooring. Right, that’s it, we won’t be eating there again!!

Today’s Trivia

Last week I was musing about whether the boat’s helm was a safe place to be during a thunderstorm – well, by chance I was looking up lightning risk for another project when I came across an american government website all about lightning – apparently it’s a serious health risk in the US!

They have comprehensive advice about reducing the risk of lightning strikes – here’s what they have to say about boats:

Repairs to the embankment at Braunston - what an improvements...

“The vast majority of lightning injuries and deaths on boats occur on small boats with NO cabin. It is crucial to listen to weather information when you are boating. If thunderstorms are forecast, do not go out. If you are out on the water and skies are threatening, get back to land and find a safe building or safe vehicle.Boats with cabins offer a safer, but not perfect, environment. Safety is increased further if the boat has a properly installed lightning protection system. If you are inside the cabin, stay away from metal and all electrical components. STAY OFF THE RADIO UNLESS IT IS AN EMERGENCY! If you are caught in a thunderstorm on a small boat, drop anchor and get as low as possible.  Large boats with cabins, especially those with lightning protection systems properly installed, or metal marine vessels are relatively safe. Remember to stay inside the cabin and away from any metal surfaces. Just because a vessel is made of rubber does not make it safe to be in when lightning is occurring”.

So Sarah’s instinct to run indoors and cower in terror during the storm last week was quite correct!

Oh, and if you decide to moor up and sit out the thunderstorm, they recommend that you stay indoors for 30 minutes after the thunder has stopped rumbling because lightning can apparently travel some distance from the storm itself!

The Admiral Nelson at Braunston locks - is it time for a pint NOW? No - on we go......

Fine structure....

And I thought he just crossed the Atlantic ..

or it may be this boat ....

Richard works with the owner's son (well he thinks it is this boat)!

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