Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cruise to Oxford


Monday morning was cloudy and windy, the sort of wind that makes one wonder if it's worth trying to get out of the marina, but it wasn't raining, and the weather prospects were good, so we set out, perhaps an hour or so later than we should. Grace almost effortlessly pulled away from the service platform and out of the marina despite the prevailing wind.

It soon became evident that there are far fewer boats out on the cut now, but we had a wait of 90 minutes or more at Watford Locks, with the lockies there preferring the nine ascending boats over us. Never mind, we're in no hurry, and some of the boats at the bottom of the locks had to wait over two hours. Because we were leaving later than planned, Grace had made sandwiches while I drove to Crick for some milk, and we ate lunch on the move. We moored overnight in a wooded spot just north of Norton Junction.

Tuesday got off to a bright and sunny start, but it was very chilly, and I wore more clothing than at any other time in the past year. Clouds built as we cruised, and rain threatened. Moving down to Norton Junction, we turned right to Braunston Tunnel where three men in a boat – a strangely common sight on canals – failed to keep to their side of the tunnel, and collided with us fairly impressively. No major damage though – at least, not to us.

The weather improved considerably at the other end of the tunnel, and was warm as we descended Braunston Flight. We went with another boat, named 42 (The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything), and this, plus the fact that all of the locks were in our favour as we approached them, meant that the descent was smooth and fast (although we were in nothing like the hurry the skipper of the other boat seemed to be in!). At Braunston Turn we headed up the Oxford Canal, mooring just past bridge 100 for the night – a beautiful open spot with a huge sky above us. The night sky was amazing, with no light pollution to spoil our sight of the ceiling of stars.













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