Monday, 8 May 2017

Slogging on to Braunston

It's been a very different day from yesterday, cold and with a biting nor'easterly wind. Setting off at eight and expecting to take a couple of hours to Braunston, it was a case of wrapping up in fleece and waterproof to keep the wind out and chugging grimly on.

This section is fine by me on a sunny day, but all too often I seem to end up doing it conditions like today's, when it's frankly a bit of a drag. What's more, there are even more moored boats to creep past than I ever recall before. Most of them were on the towpath side and a fairly complete mixture they were.

Near convenient bridges there were the usual liveaboard lurkers, mixed with the other form of bridge hopper, the leisure boat being moved around enough to satisfy CRT's minimum requirement of a cruising range of at least 20 miles in the year, saving themselves the cost of a marina or long term online mooring in so doing. There were also a goodly number of holidaying boats, many of which passed us yesterday. I must give a mention to the crew of Bristol Cream – glad you enjoy this blog!

I can understand now why passing speeds tend to be a bit high on this section – the parade of moored boats just exhausts the patience of the holiday boater with a schedule to meet.

Finally, there were the long term offside moorers as we approached Braunston, There's always been a group of them along there, but I'm sure that the line has extended over the years. All in all, it was as bad as cruising those lengths of the Shroppie which are heavily populated by long term moorers. I must have been in tickover for at least half the time this morning.

It did indeed take exactly two hours in the end, which at least gave Sheila time to run a wash load, it being Monday. We had thought of stopping on the puddle banks on the approach to the Turn, but we'd forgotten just how manky those supposed visitor moorings are. Indeed , they are just a length of unimproved Oxford canal towpath, sloping washwall and all.

So we stuck to plan A and found plenty of room just north of the turn. Sheila found a neat 70 foot space on the first section of mooring, pacing it out to check. It's a good tip to make sure you know your personal pace count for the length of your boat for just this sort of situation.

Braunston has a fair few boats tied here but is by no means full. We had a restorative coffee and then took a walk along the towpath to Bridge 89, up the field path to the village and bought bread in the convenience store and pasties from the butcher. We had a quick natter with him and reassured him that we'll be back in a few days time to stock up with his excellent meat.

Then, to make a decent walk of it, we went down Nibbet's Lane to Butcher's Bridge and so back along the towpath. Back at the boat, we got sorted out just in nice time to make a mug of soup apiece and eat lunch.

This afternoon, I've done an engine and gearbox oil change which was due. The weather is showing some small sign of improvement, boding well for Sheila's stint on the tiller to Hillmorton tomorrow.


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