Saturday, August 25, 2012

Back to Yelvertoft

Of course, the upside of the weather forecast being wrong so often is that we will get good weather on days for which bad has been forecast! And this was true for us as we left our mooring Wednesday morning and carried on back towards the marina.
Buckby Locks were easy going, although we did the whole flight of double locks solo. What made it quick was the fact that each lock was already empty, waiting for Grace to take Kantara in. One particular lock was a nightmare simply because the crew of one particular holiday boat had no idea just how dangerous locks can be, and two boys aged around ten were being allowed to run around, jumping on and off the boat as it descended the lock, running over its roof as it moved around inside the chamber on the churning water, and clambering across the gates as they were being opened. The parents merely protested weakly. I suppressed the teacher in me, and kept my mouth shut, but I shouldn't have, and I regret it. I have vowed now to speak out if ever I see people being dangerous on the canals. It was truly scary.

We were amused at the top lock when Kantara slid in alongside a 70 footer whose owner was being professionally trained in the art of canal boat handling. What was amusing was that, although he had just descended the lock, he was not going to leave it, so Kantara went up the lock alongside a boat which was the wrong way around. It transpired that the reason for this was that the trainee was going to have to reverse the boat - not the easiest of things to do - some hundreds of yards to Norton Junction; this as part of his training. He looked a little nervous at the prospect!
We moored overnight in the spot opposite Weltonfields Marina which we used on the way out. The weather the next day, yesterday, was again dry, contrary to the BBC weather forecast, although chilly to start with. The ascent of Watford Locks was smooth, once we got started, but our progress was delayed by some selfish and/or stupid boaters who ignored the several and very visible signs which instruct people not to enter the top lock until they have seen the lock keeper. These did not, and simply started to make their way down, slipping into the staircase when the lock keeper was elsewhere. From then on, everyone else had to wait for them, and they emerged from the bottom lock with smiles on their faces and not a word of apology.

The lock keepers at Watford are a very friendly bunch, always eager to chat whenever they can, and with a great sense of humour. One of them, a bald gentleman, often wears an authentic pith helmet, Victorian explorer style. When asked on one occasion why he was not wearing it, his reply was, "Are you taking the pith?"

We arrived back at Yelvertoft in something of a wind, and Grace had a difficult job manoeuvring Kantara through the opening, and then again into our mooring. But all is well, and we now have a few days to clean and tidy the boat, ready for Christine and Michael to join us for a week on Tuesday. (38 miles and 28 locks)

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