Blustery Braunston

We left Kingfisher Marina on Saturday morning to start our journey north to Aston Marina. Like last year we are spending six months in Stone planning to do some more cruising along the Macclesfield, Peak Forest and Trent & Mersey canals.

The weather wasn't too bad as we left but we were delayed when I tested our tunnel light and found it not working. It turned out to be a faulty connection (isn't it always). Earlier I had installed our new homemade Turks Heads on the tiller. One is purely decorative but the lower one protects the tiller when the weed hatch is open.

Turks Heads on Tiller

It was cold enough for us to light the new fire and watch the Ecofan whir into action. We are impressed with the new fire and the Ecofan. The cabin is now more evenly heated.

Fire in Action

We went up the Stoke Bruerne flight accompanied by an unnamed boat who had visitors to help them A wide beam who presumably was going through the tunnel in the evening followed us up. At Stoke were greeted by Bob Westlake and Kathryn Dodington wished us well for our journey. Mike Partridge on trip boat Charlie gave us a cheery greeting as we entered Blisworth Tunnel and helpfully reassured me that our tunnel light was working. After the tunnel the wind got up and Albert began travelling crabwise along many of the open sections to the north of Gayton. We eventually moored up for the night, a bit wet and tired, at Flore.

This morning the weather was equally miserable but by the afternoon the wind was really strong. At times we were boating in horizontal rain that felt like sleet.

Camping boat William moored near Weedon

An interesting mannequin and dog sculpture near Brockhole
(Is he enjoying the daffodils?)

At Whilton Bottom Lock we found NB Morpheus waiting for us. Bob & Helen Westlake are part owners of the boat so it is familiar to us. Penny and Mike (today's crew) made good locking partners and we managed to tackle both Buckby and Braunston flights in adverse conditions. The weather continued to be unpredictable but the menu was showers and high winds. By Norton Junction there were standing waves on the canal!

Narrowboat Morpheus

We had lunch on the move again (opportunity for another boatman's lunch photo!) This time we had to resort to a cuppa-soup and a tuna sweetcorn sandwich but it hit the spot. 

Boatman's Lunch 
(Norton Junction Style)

Entering Braunston Tunnel

The Braunston tunnel transit was initially very good with no other boats in sight but as we neared the exit two boats entered the tunnel. The first we met caused us some difficulty (even though that section was straight) by wandering a lot and I had to try and anticipate what they were doing, but the second was a liability. It turned out to be sizable hire boat. Although they tucked their bow close to the tunnel wall they actually stopped and let their stern drifted out into our path. As a result were pushed into the wall and our brand new cratch cover suffered its first damage - as small tear. I suppose the hire-boat steerer didn't realise that for a boat to steer it the propeller needs to move water over the rudder and that it is better to be moving than stopped. I manged to restrain my comments as we scrapped along the tunnel wall to just a loud "Oh dear!".

Dramatic Clouds over Braunston Marina
We descended Braunston Flight with not too much difficulty but the wind made it testing. In late afternoon we moored up just outside Braunston Marina and cleaned up the boat. When locking in wet conditions the centre ropes get muddy and so do the cabin sides. 

The forecast for the coming week looks exciting with 49 mph gusts predicted for Tuesday! We might have to hunker down for a day. It would be great to look forward to a calm day but that appears unlikely in the near future.