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Archive for April 24th, 2013

Boat Blog: Mooching along the Grand Union (5)

Posted by indigodream on 24 April, 2013

Sunday 14th April

Apsley to Berkhamstead (above Top Side lock)

Oh what a beautiful morning... look at that high water level - the pound was brimful...

Oh what a beautiful morning… look at that high water level – the pound was brimful…

We were woken by the absence of noise – the rain had finally stopped drumming on the roof. This triggered a surge of optimism and we actually started cruising at 10am, which is unprecedented! We’d made tentative arrangements to share locks with nb Zodiac again – they were moored a few boat-lengths behind us.

It was a lovely morning, and the weather just kept improving – for the first time this year I actually peeled off layers of clothing as the day progressed..

Our target for the day was Berkhamstead – between Top Side Lock and Rising Sun lock. We have greyhound friends that live nearby and we’re planning to meet up with them for a cruise next week.

Now, we anticipated a short cruising day, but everything seemed to take an age. There was a single boat heading up in front of us and they insisted on leaving the gates open behind them, and in some cases left the paddles up.  But despite this supposedly labour-saving (for them!) device, the boat in front was painfully slow. Although our shore crew had the extra work of closing the locks behind them, we soon caught up and were lagging behind at every lock.

At least this gave us time to get the dogs off for a bimble at the locks. Ty was actually coming up on deck before we switched the engine off, he also felt able to wee during the day – he is much braver as part of a larger pack. Ty and Monty are soulmates, being big scaredy wuss jellyboys, whereas little Miffy and Ollie sniffed around in an unperturbed world of their own.

Miffy and Monty making themselves comfortable - despite the mud coating everything inside!

Miffy and Monty making themselves comfortable – despite the mud coating everything inside!

The wind was a bother today – it was very gusty and always seemed to be blowing me away from lock landings. Luckily there was very little traffic coming down, so it was often easier to hover and use the engine to correct the wind drift rather than wrestling with ropes at the lock landings. The wind limited our tandem manoeuvres, but we did manage a neat move at Winkwell bottom – we hadn’t realised that there was a strong cross-flow from the bywash below the lock. For sundry reasons, our bows were tethered to each other and I was anticipating a crash into the lock wall, but the boats came round at the last second and slotted neatly into the lock – hurrah!

We eventually moored up around 3.30pm – just in time to say a fond goodbye to nb Zodiac who were moving north, and for Richard to make a dash for the train station, half a mile away. There is one direct train to Apsley every hour and it’s only takes 7 minutes to get there, so a wonderfully efficient car shuffle. In the meantime I packed the boat up, including just about every boat bed – they were all damp (because of a combination of wet dogs, muddy feet and possibly Miffy’s old lady bladder!). It’s not the most glamorous job so I was glad of  some visitors, Debbie and partner Simon – both local boaters. We’ve been corresponding with Debbie by email for years, it was so lovely to meet her in person. Richard soon joined us and we sat on board, with beers in hand (not me, I was driving us home later), setting the world to rights.

Dramatic pose? Well yes, but that heron is made of plastic!

Dramatic pose? Well yes, but that heron is made of plastic!

But as we sat there, I became increasingly aware of just how filthy the boat floor was. Without its covering of dog beds I could see just how much of the towpath we’d managed to carry indoors over the weekend! We said a fond goodbye to Debbie and Simon (they might also join us for a cruise next weekend) and I got busy with the mop. Having blown our schedule for the day (we were supposed to be spending the afternoon at a family party), we pottered around the boat. But eventually we forced ourselves to leave, the big pile of dog beds, waiting for washing, was looming.

Unfortunately we had a very slow drive home, long enough for Monty to get stressed and for Miffy to get wedged in the footwell behind Richard’s seat (assisted by Ollie, who wasn’t impressed at having to share the back seat). We were a bit frazzled by the time we got home, but our work wasn’t done. Poor Monty, in his panic, had anointed himself and the duvet-lined car boot with poo; Miffy had managed to put her claw through the plastic milk carton in the back footwell and covered the car in milk! We had a massive clean up operation, both of car and dogs – it wasn’t the best end of the day as Monty was so stressed I was worried for his health, but he calmed down after a big dinner (as did we!) and the hounds, at least, have a quiet week at home to look forward to…

Photoblog:

Sunken boat at Winkwell lock - I wonder if it's been a record winter for sinkings?

Sunken boat at Winkwell lock – I wonder if it’s been a record winter for sinkings?

The river Bulbourne runs parallel to the canal here - many of the houses have extended their gardens onto island platforms - don't know how that affects the flow/flood risk but it looks smart...

The river Bulbourne runs parallel to the canal here – many of the houses have extended their gardens onto island platforms – don’t know how that affects the flow/flood risk but it looks smart…

The safety catches at lock 60 (Winkwell middle) have been milled in such a way that they don't actually catch - this means that the paddles can slip down quite abruptly - be careful and don't get caught by a flying windlass! We will report to CRT...

The safety catches at lock 60 (Winkwell middle) have been milled in such a way that they don’t actually catch – this means that the paddles can slip down quite abruptly – be careful and don’t get caught by a flying windlass!

Boys own adventure...:-)

Boys own adventure…:-)

Ok, so the photo's blurred but the is the closest that Ollie can get to sharing a back seat - he didn't get away with that in Lou's day!

Ok, so the photo’s blurred but the is the closest that Ollie can get to sharing a back seat – he didn’t get away with that in Lou’s day!

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