Saturday, 11 May 2013

May Cruise -- Day 4

Yesterday's mystery duck has been identified as a red crested pochard, thanks to comments from Irene, Sheila, and Debby.  It was not, as suggested by my cousin Jonathan on facebook, a river parrot -- although that seems like a good default guess for future mystery birds.

This morning, a boat went past while we were having breakfast, so as we weren't ready to leave we let him get a bit of a head start before we set off.  It was about 8.20 when we headed for the first lock under blue skies.

After the first couple of locks is a longer pound, then I jumped off to open the swing bridge just past Pitstone Wharf.

We met boats coming up at the next lock, the top one of the three Seabrook locks.  They passed on a message that the boat in front would wait for us at the next lock.  It turned out to be a professional boat mover, Richard, and we shared all the way down to Leighton Buzzard.  We got into a good rhythm, and I ended up walking all the way to Slapton Lock, which is three miles or so.  At Slapton Lock, we met the hotel boats, Snipe and Taurus coming up.

Later, we saw another hotel boat, Takara, that we've seen several times over the past couple of days

At Grove Lock, the wind was exceptionally strong, and we struggled to get away from the side and into the lock.  We stopped on the shopping moorings at Leighton Buzzard, and Adrian popped into Tesco while I got lunch ready.  After lunch, we set off again -- the first time on this little trip that we've done more than half a day's boating.  At Wyvern Shipping, the number of hire boats moored up has reduced significantly since yesterday -- down from 30 to 15.

At Leighton Lock it started to rain, and as we passed The Globe, where  Lois Jane was moored up, it became really heavy.  There was a pause in the rain, but as we came down the Soulbury Three Locks there was another downpour combined with strong winds.  The lock keepers were a great help, and the boat we shared with, a Canal Breaks boat from Hillmorton, did a bit of synchronised boating, which was probably wise in the conditions.

We moored up for the night at Stoke Hammond.  While we've been here, there have been squally showers interspersed with sunny spells.  It really can't make up its mind what it wants to do.

12 miles, 15 locks.  (41 miles, 33 locks)

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