Saturday, 6 October 2018

Weedon Weed

We took Patience for her last trip of the season, heading for Weedon to see the fire engine collection. Unfortunately that seems to have moved to Hampshire since we last visited. More details here.
Nevertheless we set off on a cold morning, warmed by the sun as it emerged and with the leaves turning and falling into the canal our passage to Crick was very tranquil - with one exception.
John noticed that the ammeter wasn't showing its usual reading which suggested the batteries were not being correctly charged. After a while scratching our heads and pondering awful possibilities the fridge, briefly silenced, started up automatically and the ammeter now gave its normal reading.
What happened was that because the fridge was left on when the battery was switched off, when we switched the batteries on again the fridge safety switch had been triggered to protect the batteries being run down. After 15 minutes it started up again on its own and we have solved the mystery. Our fridge is too clever for us!
Next day, even colder and now overcast, we go through Crick tunnel and join the queue at Watford, noting that water shortages are restricting opening hours to 10am to 3pm. No problem for us in this direction, but we'll have to take care coming back up. Through the heavy double width locks at Buckby we pause at Whilton Marina for a valuation of Patience while we consider whether our time with Patience is drawing to a close. Mr Steele is very optimistic about her and of course we know she's a reliable boat. Maybe after nine years of ownership it's time for a change.
Further south there are obvious signs of towpath work: grass mixes with leaves and twigs across the canal. And it is this, we think, that causes us to slow down as we approach Weedon. The first warning sign is when, after keeping up with an elderly lady stumbling down the towpath, we find we are falling behind, even while the prop goes round faster our progress gets slower. After a bit of a panic, revving the engine back and forth a few times and clearing a few stray weeds from the prop, we set off at a regular speed, convinced it was weed at Weedon. Shortly afterwards I spy a sign saying dredging is to be carried out in the area, which seems to confirm that the cause was weed plus shallow water. Beware the area around Weedon!
We feed well at the Chef and Brewer, "proper" pubs seeming to be short on food, and next morning set off before breakfast to ensure we can pass through the flights at Buckby and Watford in good time, given their restricted opening.
Our previous diagnosis is confirmed as we pass sluggishly through a mile or so north of Weedon before picking up speed again.
Here Nebulae is twinned as both boats head through the double width locks at Buckby.
We arrive at Watford bottom lock at 12.30 and start up at 1pm. The lock keeper says that last entry is at 3.15 but that yesterday it was so busy that people arriving at 2pm didn't make it through and so didn't start in until 10am this morning! And there's nothing to do overnight at Watford top lock!
Here we are at the edge of the pound half way up the Watford flight.

Fortunately we emerge and arrive at Crick for 2.30 where we rest overnight.
Next day is easy travel over familiar territory and we pass the Welford arm to pop in to North Kilworth for a top up of fuel and a final pump out for the year. The new marina is filling up with boats, but Welford is still our home and it's with some regret that we load up the car with perishables and bedding before winter maintenance.

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