Today we have battled the wind, and seen an incredible number of boats. We're much more used to boating in the winter and the autumn than a bank holiday weekend, so it's come as a bit of a shock.
But back to the start of the day. I was finishing my night shifts this morning, and managed to get away from work much earlier than expected, at 6.15. I drove up the M1 from London to Rugby. The huge long stretch of roadworks at the southern end of the motorway has been finished -- and replaced by miles and miles more, all with 50mph average speed cameras.
Still, I arrived at Brinklow at 8am, and Adrian came and let me in the gate. Briar Rose already has something of our stamp on her, as we've got lots of our own things on board. I had a quick shower, and we set off just after 9 in brilliant sunshine but a fiendish wind. We turned right out of the marina towards Hillmorton and Braunston. Naturally, the first boat we met was at a blind bridgehole; at the next bridge we had to wait for a convoy of three. It didn't really matter though, as we were just enjoying being out on our own boat.
Several things quickly became obvious: We were constantly surprised when we saw our reflection in the windows of moored boats (green not blue; Briar Rose not Debdale): BR is much more manoeuverable than Debdale - she's very responsive, and spins very easily; but the rudder is very heavy (it should self centre, but doesn't) - we suspect this is what the surveyor was talking about when he said it was badly balanced, and should have a few centimetres taken off the forward edge. When we have the boat blacked, we'll try to get this done at the same time.
At Hillmorton Locks, we were lucky to go past half a dozen moored boats which were just about to set off. There were about 15 people milling around the bottom pair of locks, from various boats. We had to wait, for one of the locks to be free, and Adrian had problems getting away from the side: the wind was pinning him to the bank. The flight was so busy that we didn't have to set any of the locks, and we were impressed as the way BR could turn sharply in the tight pounds.
We started having lunch on the move, but then moored up for half an hour or so near Barby. We set off again heading for Braunston. Again we met boats at bridges, but fortunately it was almost always our bridgehole -- just as well, because the wind made hovering impossible. Many boats ended up stuck to the side.
The light indicating that our loo tank was full had just come on, and not really knowing how full that really meant, we thought we might as well get a pump out at Braunston Marina. I did a great turn into the marina and came gently alongside the boat already on the service wharf. But it turned out that the pump out machine was broken -- it was in bits on the ground, while the plastic lid of a milk bottle was removed from the mechanism. So I reversed out, and spun round to moor just beyond the marina entrance.
We walked into the village to get a few supplies, but then decided to move back out into the country for the night. We crept back out of Braunston, with boats going in all directions at the junction, and moored about half an hour later just past Bridge 88. We're currently enjoying Prosecco and nibbles, while a chicken and potatoes roast in the oven.
11 miles, 3 locks.