NB Muleless

NB Muleless
Moored at Alrewas Sept 2013

Monday, 4 November 2013

Its been an eventful 3 weeks since last blog!

I cant believe it was 9 Oct last time I blogged – we seem to have been rushed off our feet (!) since then.

On 10 Oct, Sam from Foxton Boat Services arrived to diagnose our engine problem on behalf of Beta – he diagnosed a poorly alternator that needed replacing and had to make several adjustments to the engine that should have been done when it left the factory! Trust us to get the “rogue” engine. Sam promised to be in touch ASAP when he received the new alternator to fit it, so we finally left Braunston on Friday 11 Oct.

Approaching Braunston Turn to head down the Oxford Canal – under the first bridge.


We didnt get far, as it started to rain quite heavily, so we moored up to wait it out and then continued on to Napton Junction the next day. We wanted to pop into Calcutt Boats to talk to them about our Hurricane Heater, as our central heating had decided to stop working over the last couple of days – it would still heat the hot water, but not the radiators. We also wanted to check out Wigrams Turn Marina at the junction, as we needed to leave the boat in a marina whilst we headed down south for some commitments.


We left Calcutt after a helpful chat, turned round and headed back out to the Oxford Canal – turning sharp right to carry on towards Napton.


We moored just before the Folly – so it would have been rude not to pop in for a drink – and whilst we were there we booked a table for dinner in the evening with Yvonne and Roy, since we were now only 20 mins (by car) from their house!

We had a lovely meal and a great evening, dampened only by the torrential rain when we walked back to the boat!

We stayed put on Sunday, walked to the post office shop in Napton and chilled out ready for the hectic next couple of days!

Monday we pulled pins, turned round and headed back to Wigrams Turn Marina. We had arranged to collect our car from Yvonne and Roy to drive south, so thought we would be on our way by noon – but no, this was not meant to be!

When we plugged in to the shoreline it was only a couple of minutes before it tripped out – this kept happening and we were getting really frustrated – having been stationery for the weekend our batteries were at about 55% charge – not a problem normally, but the hybrid system is designed to run on a 16amp shoreline supply and even though this was supposed to be 16amp it could not handle the draw of power that our inverter was making. We had several phone conversations with Mark of MGM and Graham of Hybrid Marine, and after running our engine to top the batteries up to 60% we finally managed to keep the landline running, sorted ourselves out ready to leave, and decided to unplug the shoreline whilst we were gone just in case it tripped out again and tripped the mains fuse (which it had been doing) to make sure the fridge and freezer would stay on whilst we were gone. We now had the batteries up to 73% so knew we had enough power for a few days.

We finally left at 4.30, hit rush hour traffic and a few jams and didnt arrive at Mums until 7.45pm Luckily Mum had a casserole in the oven for us, so after a lovely meal we settled down with some wine to catch up and relax.

Tuesday was Mums birthday – one of the reasons we were down, we left mum with some visiting friends and went to St Marys Hospital for the other reason we were down – Gary had an appointment to have some sun damaged skin on his nose removed – luckily this didnt take long, and with only a small plaster on his nose and an appointment for 6 weeks time we left to get some other things done, including an update to my phone and mobile internet.

When we returned to Mum’s, her Sister Julie was visiting, so of course we had to update her on all our recent adventures, just as she left, my nephew Simon and his children arrived to see Nan/Great Nan. Less than ten minutes later my brother Terry, his wife Wendy and their other son Chris turned up, and just as we were organising drinks for everyone, their daughter Cheryl turned up and the house was full to bursting point! Mum was overwhelmed to see all her children, their spouses, grandchildren and great grandchildren at the same time. Terry popped out to get fish and chips for us all and we had a great couple of hours. Wendy had brought along a lovely trifle to tempt us all too. With all the excitement I didnt take any pictures – must try harder next time!

We had to leave Mum and the family again for a couple of hours, as we had to pop round to our friend Lee who has been cutting my hair for years and she had promised to tidy us both up whilst we were down south – I needed a severe hairstyle change to suit the canal life!

After a leisurely start on Wednesday we made our way back to the boat arriving at 3pm, in time to light the stove and warm the boat up before night, as the heating still wasnt working. We plugged in the shoreline and were pleased that it didnt trip out.

We should have been leaving the marina on Thursday, but decided to stay another day, as Sam was arriving to fit the new alternator, and Mark and Martin from MGM were coming to sort out the heating and our shoreline charging problem!

So Thursday was a hive of activity! First Mark and Martin arrived, and after the obligatory cup of tea set to finding the heating problem – which turned out to be a loose connection on the motorised valve which was of course boxed in! This was soon fixed and the boat then warmed up nicely again! They then fitted a Victron remote switching unit, which enables us to reduce the amps that the inverter calls for from a landline – so we wont have that problem again!

No sooner had they left, than Sam turned up armed with our new alternator and fitted that! In the meantime I had been using the large washing machine and tumble drier to catch up with some washing.

We quite liked it in Wigrams Marina, very friendly staff, nice spacious moorings (albeit on very long pontoons!) and great washing and drying facilities.

Here is Muleless about centre in the picture – the pontoons are long enough for 4 boats!


So on Friday 18 October, after fully charging and equalising our batteries via the shoreline, we moved off – first visiting the service wharf for a pump out, which involved some nifty manoeuvring on Garys part – well done Gary!


As we still had the car at the marina, we decided to keep it for the weekend to get some shopping done, so Gary made his maiden solo voyage from Wigrams Marina round to the moorings at the Folly, and I drove the car and left it in the Folly Car park.


We moored on the 48hr spots ready for heading up the locks on Sunday.


On Saturday we drove to Tesco in Southam to top up the cupboards and returned the car to Yvonne and Roy, who dropped us back at the Folly with our shopping just as the thunderstorm hit – so we sheltered under the bridge for ten minutes waiting for the rain to slow!

On Sunday we moved off, stopping first to top up with water at the bottom of the locks!


It was the first time we had been this way, so exciting stuff!

As we made our way up the locks we had a fantastic view of Napton, including the church where niece Natalie was married to Matty on 31 March 2012!


We only just got to the top of the flight when the heavens opened and the rain hammered down. Luckily there was space to moor next to the water point!

On Monday we had to make an appointment for Gary to have his stitches out at a local doctors, we got an appointment for Tuesday, so decided to stay where we were so that Roy could pick us up from the road there.

Tuesday went as planned, we had lunch with Yvonne and Roy (who are currently remodelling their kitchen) then took our own car to the doctors, stitches successfully removed, then we drove over the Asda in Leamington to top up the wine supplies and a few other bits. Yvonne and Roy then dropped us back at the boat.

On wednesday, with low batteries needing charging and 9 and half miles of lock free cruising ahead we set off. Just one mile further on, after a quick burst of reverse to clear the prop of leaves – Houston we have a problem! we are stuck in reverse! Engage forward – still going backwards – in neutral – still going backwards!!!!!

After turning off the engine, drifting a bit and Gary leaping the gap – we managed to get a rope initially round a tree, and then pins in to hold us in place – phew – but we were still half way across the canal with the front end as the side was shallow.

Luckily we had a signal on the phone, so we managed to get hold of Mark at MGM to explain the problem! After much head scratching, and testing of the gear box cable after stripping down the morse control, we diagnosed the problem as a broken gear box cable – very unusual, for a new boat especially! Mark said he would come straight out to us – where were we?

Gary walked to the nearest farm and got their postcode as we were at least a mile from the nearest normal road! Mark had to find the farm and then follow the farm track to the canal!

Whilst moored in this precarious position, all the passing boats were most concerned and several offered help! Even Timothy West went by!

Mark and Rachel duly turned up having stopped off to buy a new cable on the way! They eventually sorted everything out and set us on our way again at about 3pm! Thanks guys.

We cruised on for two miles, but as dark was approaching we had to moor up. Luckily we had boosted the batteries enough – well done hybrid!

As Thursday dawned we were on a mission – we wanted to reach Cropredy by nightfall, so set off eagerly. We were still in sight of Napton Hill with a long way to go!


After four miles of very meandering canal we decided to stop for water at the Wharf Inn, Fenny Compton. Fast tap here, so didnt stop too long!


As we approached the top of the Claydon flight, we had a text from Yvonne and Roy, who had decided to take advantage of the lovely weather and take a break from the kitchen to do some shopping in Banbury and lunch in Cropredy and then walk up the flight to meet us – wonderful – help doing the locks, just in time!

We were at the third lock down when they found us, just in time, as these locks are hard work! They helped us make short work of the rest of the locks and arrived in Cropredy and moored up at 4.30pm – brilliant.

After a well earned cup of tea we walked them back to their car, which was parked at the Brasenose Arms where they had had a very nice lunch.

We walked back to the boat and then decided to treat ourselves to dinner out after such a stressful couple of days (any excuse!!) We had a very nice meal and returned to the boat to recuperate!

Friday saw us moving on towards Banbury – passing some familiar boats  moored near the lock – Derwent 6 and Moore to Life! Sorry we didnt get to chat guys, catch you next time!


Cropredy is a lovely village, next time we will stay longer!

We were heading to Banbury, and having not been there on a boat before wanted to arrive at a reasonable time to choose a good mooring spot.

On the outskirts of Banbury we passed these two chaps – next time anyone says “where did you leave your mule then” we can tell them “Banbury”!!


We pulled in to moor at Spiceball Park, before the town centre, a nice quiet wooded spot.

We walked down to the town centre, checked out the moorings there, decided to stay where we were and went for a mooch round the shops.

Saturday we were thinking of leaving Banbury, but because of the impending “storm” decided to stay sheltered until monday. We spent the day visiting B&Q and Tesco and playing around with our satellite dish which we hadnt had much luck with since leaving Leicester (though to be fair, we hadnt tried too hard). We bought a new pole to fix it too and hooray we managed to find the signal and at last we had sky back (or at least, after I had re-registered as we hadnt used it for more than a month!)

On Sunday we decided to move the boat into the town centre away from the trees just in case the storm was really bad. Luckily we moved before the canoe race started – as we had to go past the finish line!


We walked down to watch the start, and felt sorry for the narrowboat who arrived at the wrong moment!


After another mooch round the shops we settled down for a windy night.


Monday morning, having not seen any of the horrendous winds they had seen down south, we moved off, heading south, through the lift bridge, then the lock, down about a mile to the winding hole to turn round and return to Banbury. We had to stop to fill up with water, but had to wait for another boat to finish and one to come out of the lock before moving over and taking his place. As the rain started at this point, I forgot to take a picture of us filling with water in Banbury – we will have to return to get that picture!


We may not have had the wind here in Banbury, but there had definitely been some rain as all the locks were overflowing – especially the one in the town centre, but I didnt get a picture of that one!

We pulled in to Sovereign Wharf to fill with diesel and take advantage of his 89p deal! Cash or cheque only, but self declaration so well worth it.

We then carried on out of Banbury, going through the lock just by the M40 – we had never seen this lock from the road before – even though we always looked!


We moored just after the M40, before the next lock, as time was getting on. What a noise from the motorway – all night! Not used to that in the country!

We wanted to get above Cropredy, since the winter works programme starts on 4 November and the lock there is closed for 2 weeks, so Tuesday we pressed on, but of course we had to stop for water!


At 60ft we fit across without obstructing the canal! but the hose only just reaches!

We carried on and made it to the top of the Claydon Flight where we moored, and managed to get a signal on the satellite!

Wednesday we had planned to spend stationary, but looking at the weather decided it was a nice day to travel with some sunshine we might not get much more of, so pressed on, stopping of course at the Wharf Inn, Fenny Compton to top up the water, but had to wait whilst a 70ft boat turned round in the winding hole – with just inches to spare!


We had decided to stop at the spot we moored at after our breakdown, but someone had already moored there, and it was a one boat spot, so we kept going, round the meanders to find another spot. Several times the canal turns back on itself and I took this picture of a canal bridge ahead – we were heading south at the time!


And about 20 minutes later, we moored up just in front of that bridge heading north!


The weather forecast for Thursday was better than it had looked earlier in the week, so after the on board hairdresser (Gary) had coloured my hair, we moved on and headed for the Napton flight again!

On the way we passed the spot that we had broken down!


We filled with water at the top of the flight – as we knew it would be hectic at the bottom, and we were right, even as we filled with water, several boats started down the flight, we then joined the queue and headed down, met a couple of boats coming up, and apart from pound on the second lock down being low with water, all the rest were overflowing making it difficult to open the top gates"!


Even the overspill weirs were full!


We reached the bottom of the flight at about 4pm, and found a mooring and settled in. We decided to visit the Folly for food and drink to recuperate from a hard days boating!

Staying put today to catch up on some cleaning and tidying – and blog writing! Unfortunately I have no phone or internet signal here, so will have to wait to post the blog another day!

I promise not to leave it so long next time!


Now moored at Braunston, by the Boat House Pub. After a windy weekend at Napton, we only moved on Sunday, but had a lovely trip here. Yvonne and Roy were dog walking and met us on the way, so they hopped on board and motored to Braunston with us, and then walked Tilly back to the car 2 1/2 miles back!

We wanted to visit Midland Chandlers to purchase an ecofan to help distribute heat from the stove, and today we will be stocking up at the butchers.

Finally have phone and internet signal here – so time to post the blog!


  1. Please don't blog about boats on the sytem that don't have owners on board, they could be away and you are advertising where they are and that there is no-one on board!!!! Hardly fair and also not good for security!!!! Think Please !!!!!

    1. Hi Anonymous
      As it was well over a week after we had seen those boats before I actually blogged - they could have moved anywhere by now!
      And incidentially, the boats weren't empty - we just didn't interrupt their evening as it was nearly dark when we first spotted them. We did however wave to both boat occupants in the morning on the way past!

  2. You have just started blogging, and some grumpy git under anonymous has a whinge. I can just imagine all the potential thieves out there trawling through narrowboat blogs....I dont think so!

  3. Anonymous you are very very sad.