Braunston: Six Locks And A Tunnel

We should have gone to Tradline to buy a pair of centre line ropes on Saturday, but the weather was so horrible, we stayed put. Yesterday (Sunday) the weather was beautiful, and it would have been lovely to move on, but seeing that Tradline are closed on Sundays we were sorry we never braved the rain to visit their shop on Saturday. Still it did give John the opportunity to watch 3 rugby matches, and (I kid you not!) several footie matches (yawn…).

The weather was glorious this morning, though there were ice on the canal, it wasn’t thick, but it was there. We traipsed to Tradline, picking our way through a partly frozen ‘towpath’ mud. The shop is fantastic, and the lady who served us couldn’t be more helpful or nice.  We left with a pair of lovely blue centre lines, and a couple of shiny shackles to go with them. We also bought two bright red, braid on braid, mooring ropes. We didn’t intend to buy the mooring ropes, but seeing we had the opportunity, and our plans are to sail on the Thames, we ought to make sure our equipment is tip-top. Cyan is going to look really smart with her bright red mooring ropes, and her blue centre lines.

We swapped our ‘old’ centre lines for our ‘new’ ones before we left our mooring. The morning sun had now decided to ‘hide’, but at least the sun had melted the ice before the sun disappeared.

Passing the ‘Gongoozler Cafe’,

… passing Braunston Marina,

and passing Braunston Pump House.

Then we came to Braunston Bottom Lock…. and a bit of a disaster.

John was doing the locking today, and of course I’d volunteered to be the ‘skipper’ (we both needed to brush up on our chosen/swapped ‘job’ for the day).

At the bottom lock, space was rather tight due to a busy boatyard, and moored hired boats. John jumped off Cyan with his windlass, and I thinking it was a ‘good idea’; took Cyan into the ‘mouth entrance’ of the lock gates. The lock was full of water, so John raised the paddles to empty the lock. Something ‘weird’ goes on when water gushes out in front of a boat, like in a lock. The water somehow travels under the boat and pushes the boat forward and not as we’d think; backwards (no doubt a physics theory can explain this). I quickly put Cyan in reverse to stop her moving forward, but this exasperated the situation, and she crashed forwards into the lock gates. I felt sick!

John Glared! 🙁 Luckily the locks were okay, but not our button fender on the bow. The button is fastened on with chains, but one of the links is a plastic cable tie. It’s a weak link just in case the button gets trapped in a lock gate or something. The weak link broke, and the button hung off Cyan, and was under the water. Once out of the lock, John fished out the button, and has left it to drain on the bow; at a convenient time when the weight of the water has drained, the button will be fixed again.

The weather was now starting to get very cold. We even had some snow flurries. (Please notice the ‘pristine’ centre lines 🙂 )

After we’d climbed the six Braunston Locks, we had a short cruise towards Braunston Tunnel. The tunnel is 2042 yards, and it has an S bend in the middle. Reason was because ‘both ends’ of the tunnel were excavated at the same time, but when the work reached the middle of the tunnel, the ‘ends’ were slightly out. Amazing that this tunnel was opened in 1796 – before the Napoleonic Wars!

I’d rather not do tunnels, I wish we didn’t have to go through them, but needs must. My job when going through the tunnel was to hold Rusty tight to try and reassure him, and also to try and stop him shaking!

Relief all round when we sailed out of the tunnel.

Almost a ‘blanket’ of snowdrops.

We’d set off thinking we’d moor just after the 2nd lock, by the Admiral Nelson PH, but at the last minute we thought we’d press on through the tunnel. This meant we didn’t have a mooring plan, and we were getting rather cold.

A quick look at our map told us there were visitor moorings just after Norton Junction. We’ve not been through this way before; for us we’re on ‘uncharted’ grounds

Unfortunately at Norton Junction, we couldn’t get to moor. There were spaces, or there would have been if other boaters had moored up next to each other. The available spaces weren’t big enough for Cyan.

There’s no way I felt we could have gone down Buckby Top Lock No 7. The time was 4:30 pm, and our fingers and knees were frozen. It’s not ‘good form’ we know, but we’ve moored just after the waterpoint, and before the lock landing. We’re not stopping anyone from topping up with water, and we’re not stopping anyone from jumping from their boat to set the lock. Think we’ll be setting off early tomorrow just in case we annoy anyone.

Today we’ve climbed 6 locks, through one long tunnel, and cruised 4 miles.

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