Bedford Festival to Priory Marina
1 mile, 1 lock
The morning after the weekend before - traders are still packing up - the biggest job, inevitably, fell to the litter pickers. Speaking to a couple of them on Sunday morning we were told that the area round the main stage was like a blanket.
We set off just after 10:30 to find just one boat ahead of us
the long line of cruisers had gone, so mooring up for the lock was very easy
and one just one behind us. Whilst we were waiting around we heard that there were 6 narrow boats queuing at 06:00! I think Angela and Patrick was just ahead of the rush.
Once down the lock all those moored boats had gone.
It was an easy journey back to the marina where we would have to go to wait for the bow thruster to be re-repaired. Chris had made contact with the engineer - spare parts were ordered and a promise given to arrive as soon as possible on Tuesday. So there was nothing for it, but to hunker down and wait. Of course this would mean moving all that coal again!
Tuesday 17th July 2018
Priory Marina to Great Barford
6 miles, 3 locks
When we were in the marina before the festival Monty and I had walked round the lake - a very pleasant almost 2 mile walk.
I saw nothing moving on my way to the lock and there was just one cruiser in there when I arrived, but it was in a bit of a pickle. They had just bought the boat and did not realise just how narrow the lock is. The buoys jammed the boat in the lock, so they had to re-fill the lock, move all the buoys and try again. Even then they only just made it.
By the time we got back, the engineer was hard at work and Chris was usefully employed as his 'mate'!
The first problem had been caused by some corrosion in the connecting block between the control wires and the thruster itself. This meant that the thruster was continually being prompted to keep thrusting during the Wash crossing, only stopping when the overheat protection was triggered, only to restart again once it had reset itself. The first repairs (before the festival) were to the control connections and to replacing the thruster bearings which thanks to virtually continuous running across the Wash had become damaged. During the festival the thruster stopped completely - no power, no lights, no nothing.
This next problem was the corrosion in and around the main fuse holder which had become very hot, eventually causing the fuse to fail. Unfortunately neither we nor the engineer had spotted this the first time around. Once the main fuse holder and the charging fuse holder had been replaced and new fuses fitted, everything was fine and at the time of writing (3 days on), still no problems.
By the time it was all sorted, the coal re-loaded, we had filled up with water and diesel it was 15:00 before we got away - a very late start for us, but we really did not want to stay another night in the marina, As we were filling up with diesel look what we found lurking in a corner of the marina -
a 'naked' pirate raft.
By the time we got to Cardington lock there was a narrow boat already going down with the trip boat 'John Bunyan' waiting ahead of us on the lock landing.
These two tiddlers came up
We did get through eventually and by the time we emerged John Bunyan had winded and was on the way back to the lock we had left which was hopefully ready for them. Whilst chatting at the lock going down earlier we did discover that the many trips they took during the Festival were all full. A good commercial weekend for them.
The rest of the journey was plain sailing and having noted that the lovely mooring by the old lock at Great Barford was empty we reversed in just very pleased to find such a delightful spot empty so late in the day. We soon found out why - the river is just too low and we could not get in.
Onwards then to Great Barford itself. As we approached the bridge it looked a little full on the EA moorings, but would there be a space?
No! - it was nose to tail all the way along, so we went across to the GOBA moorings, which were, thankfully, empty.
Banging pins into the solid earth is not for the faint hearted, but we managed and settled down for the night with a less than appealing view out of the side hatch
With such a high sided bank getting on and off had to be done with care, but it was only for one night, so we managed.
Wednesday 18th July 2018
Great Barford to St Neots
7.75 miles, 3 miles
With six boats on the opposite bank, five of which were pointing the same way we were going, we were determined to make an early start, so we were pulling pins (very quietly!) at 07:10 when I heard an engine! Our hearts fell - we knew they only had to untie, not wriggle pins out and put them away before setting off. Thankfully there was no need to panic - it was a vehicle on the other side of the bridge. The lock was against us, so it was a long wait on the lock landing for Chris, but it was a glorious morning and we were not in a hurry.
Most of the lock workings are covered in webs
Roxton Lock was also against us, but it was still only 08:15 when we got there, so no queues.
Just after that lock I think we disturbed this heron's early morning rest high up in a tree
Wonder of wonders - the next lock at Eaton Socon was in our favour, so we could sail straight in
This is the first large lock we had been in for quite a while, but it was still early, so we were 'Billy No Mates'
Approaching St Neots - the mooring before the bridge was occupied
There was space on the park after the bridge, but we needed to fill up with water and to visit Waitrose and the town moorings were full. Nothing a bit of breasting up can't solve. By the time I had shopped, Chris had filled the tank and we moved across to the park to moor up for the night.
It was three hours after we got there that the first of the boats at Great Barford arrived! Maybe we should not have started so early, but it is certainly a little cooler then.
So where were our travelling companions, Sue and Ken on Cleddau? They had had a meeting on Tuesday, so could not leave Priory Marina until Wednesday midday. How far would they get? We both needed to be in Godmanchester on Friday, so there was not a lot of time to spare. In the end they put their heads down and went for it arriving is St Neots around 7pm. They tried to get in a bit further along, but it is just too shallow. Thankfully they were able to breast up with us. There is going to be a huge Inland Waterways Festival here in August - how they will get the very many boats in remains to be seen. It is a huge park, but it is all just too shallow for boats to get within two to three feet of the bank.
We had offered to cook dinner - one less thing for them to think about. This really is a tough life!
Having missed them at the Festival our entertainment for the evening - a dragon boat practice