Today was the day Briar Rose would be delivered to the painter, so I had quite a lot to do this morning. I didn't want to disturb the peace of the marina too early, so before I left my mooring I started putting away anything I could -- moving everything from shelves to cupboards and drawers. I then took all the curtains down as I'm taking them home for cleaning, and rolled up the rugs and tucked them under the armchairs.
It was about 9.30 when I set off, and it took the usual half hour to get to the marina. The final couple of hundred yards consisted of a fishing match. The first angler thanked me for slowing down and responded quite cheerfully when I asked him if he'd caught anything; the rest were of the 'look away and don't acknowledge the boaters' school. Except, of course, the ones sitting right opposite the marina entrance (which is also a designated winding hole): they couldn't help by look up as I made the turn into the marina. There was a strong wind blowing in an awkward direction, meaning I had to use quite a lot of power to get round, much the the dismay of the angers.
In spite of the wind, I got into our berth without touching the sides, and quickly loaded everything into the car. Once as much as possible was out of the way, I started covering things in plastic dust sheets. The prep work for the painting will be messy, so I wanted to protect the chairs, dinette cushions, and the matress. I also put everything from the well deck inside, along with the plank and pole from the roof. By the time I'd finished, it looked like a scene from Dexter.
The boat looked and felt strange, stripped bare and shrouded in plastic. But in just a month she'll look shiny and new again.
About an hour after I'd arrived, I set off again, slightly nervous because the wind was still in the wrong direction and the fishermen were still there. An illustration of how windy it was was playing out in front of me. A moorer from further up the marina was taking his grand-daughter (I assume) for a little trip up and down. However, he'd got himself pinned to the far bank, and seemed unable to get off. I knew that if I had any chance of making the turn towards Stoke Bruerne I'd have to use quite a lot of power, and so it proved. Still, I got round without touching the towpath side.
The wind was still strong though, so I crabbed my way slowly down the line of fishermen. The ones with very long rods didn't mind that I was being blown towards the towpath, because they were fishing on the far side of the canal; but one with a little tiny rod mutter something as I went past. I asked him what he'd said. "Couldn't you have come any closer?" he asked sarcastically. Well, I could have taken my prop quite a lot closer, but instead explained that if I went slowly, there was a chance I'd be blown over his side a bit. He carried on muttering, clearly enjoying his day's entertainment.
Close to my destination, there was another, smaller, fishing match. These fishermen must belong to a different club, as they nearly all nodded or said hello as I passed.
When I arrived at Baxter's at Kingfisher Marina, where Briar Rose is being painted, the most convenient mooring spot was already occupied (as it happens, by the other boat being painted this month). So I turned the boat in the marina entrance and moored on the towpath just beyond.
I dropped the keys off at the office, and had a chat to the painter's wife. Then it was back over the bridge, a final look at Briar Rose in her rather tired colours, and a two mile walk back to Thrupp Wharf.
I encountered the smaller group of anglers almost immediately, and they either moved their rods from across the towpath, or asked if I was OK to duck underneath. Then I reached the fishermen near Thrupp Wharf. Not one made any attempt to move their rods; this meant they had little to complain about when I accidentally gave them a clonk as I stepped over or ducked under.
The angers opposite the marina entrance were in a right state. I'm not sure what the boat was trying to do (it may have been attempting to wind). Either way, it was blown into the bank right where this particular fisherman had his keep net. As I left, the boat had decided to moor (on the designated moorings) between two fishermen. Neither looked happy -- but that's nothing new.
I was quite glad to get in the car and drive home.
3.5 miles, 0 locks. (29 miles, 2 locks)