Thursday, 2 April 2015

Problems with the Locks !

Wednesday 1st April 2015

Today was either going to be a normal cruising day of about 3 hours or we might make it into a longer one.

What were the criteria to make it longer? Believe it or not it was the fact that the rail network was undergoing extensive work and there would be train delays or transfer to buses during this long weekend.

Rather ironic for canal travel to be influenced by the railways in this century, but as I had indicated a couple of days ago I would need to go down to Watford this week - Thursday is better than Friday and Milton Keynes is better than Cosgrove.

So we are now moored up at Campbell Park on the park side, which I have thought of as being the preferred but usually less available side, but we got a spot.
 
Early morning at Stoke Bruerne - about as good as it gets

We let loose from the mooring quite early and were on our own for the first two locks, but at the third, I found a boat in the lock, windlass near the bottom gate, no-one insight, but the smell of bacon cooking coming from the boat.
Upon opening the bottom gate, a young chap emerged (they all look young these days, but probably mid-20's called James) - he had had problems with the gate so thought a bit of sustenance in the form of a bacon sandwich would help - just waiting was the trick - until the water levelled on both sides.
Diane, I am sure, would have sided with the much-needed bacon butty.

Anyway we joined up for the remaining locks in the flight and then found what the problem really was.

Seems that with the rain yesterday there was an oversupply of water in the pounds; there are no bywashes to redirect the water, so it was building up in the pounds and eventually running over top and then bottom gates.
Just a bit too much water

Since the top of the bottom gates is lower than that of the top gates, it was almost impossible to get a level on its own - so a huge amount of waiting time.

Solution (part A) - open topgate paddles and bottom gate paddles to drain enough water from the overfull pound to be able to get the boats into the lock.
Problem - the extra water going through the lock exacerbated the problem in the next pound.
Solution (part B) - at Diane's suggestion, she and James tied the two boats together; she steered the two boats whilst, James worked the lock that was available; I went ahead to prepare the next lock and also the one after (to accomodate the extra water).
 
Boats lashed together and Diane at the helm


James - a nice young lad.

Diane was a marvel on steering both boats together, taking it all slowly and carefully without touching any of the lock approaches.

Success and we made it through the flight just in time to see the lockkeeper come on duty.
After that, it was easy for other boats either coming down or going up.

The 4 mile cruise to Cosgrove was the panacea that we needed to be able to rest after such early morning exercise.
We did encounter our first fishing match of the year - some of them were cheerful, others were quiet but seemingly grumpy.
Fishing match- the first of the year - do they have them in London?


We slowed down and kept to the centre, but the grumpies stayed just that - Diane thought we were doing OK and allowing them time to bring their lines in so that they could "re-string" - she meant to say "re-bait".

 
This is always a lovely bridge to see at Cosgrove.

Arriving at Cosgrove we needed to top up the water tank, rid ourselves of the rubbish and to empty a cassette - the latter two items were simple to complete, but the former took a little time as there were two boats in front with a slow tap.
Fortunately, the first boat was practically finished, whilst the second needed less of a top up than us, so relatively quickly we were finished as well - not so sure that the tap was really as slow as they were making out.

We joined a hire boat at Cosgrove Lock for the small drop; they were out for the week - a long time dream of the guy on the boat - the partner and kids were going along for the ride, so to speak.

Once down and out, they pulled over for water, and we carried on - a simple 7 mile cruise was all that we had to go.
 
passing through Milton Keynes -really quite nice...


...no time to see why, but guess from the Olympics...

...this one had a rugby flavour about it...

...and of course the railway mural

Diane always likes to see a boat named Buccaneer- it reminds her
of the joke: "Where are your buccaneers? On the side of your
buc___n head"

The weather had started off as fine and sunny when we left Stoke Bruerne in the morning, but had by now reached the stage of cloudy with some sun with increasing wind, and as we cruised further there were short showers of rain, not enough to really wet much at all, but collectively left most exposed surfaces a bit wet.

In the end, we reached our destination; moored up; set the boat and disappeared inside - just in time to hear and see some very heavy rain - good timing I'd say

We also passed a couple of bloggers along the way - looked like there was no-one onboard  "Valerie" and it was raining as we passed "Inca" but we waved at the girl nicknamed "curly".




13 Miles, 8 Locks
YTD: 230 Miles, 99 Locks, 6 Tunnels, 2 Lift Bridges, 8 Swing Bridges
Totals: 3124 Miles, 2220 Locks, 104 Tunnels, 36 Lift Bridges, 159 Swing Bridges