NB Muleless

NB Muleless
Moored at Alrewas Sept 2013

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

At last–this is what we signed up for!

We have been really lazy over the weekend – enjoying the lovely weather, so I am a bit late with the next episode of our travels!

Last Tuesday morning at Norton Junction was the perfect location to do a self pump out of our toilet tank – we just had to move from our mooring at the bottom of the Leicester Line round the corner nearer to the elsan disposal.

Gary brought the boat round after I had checked availability of moorings.


We have an empty 20 litre container, painted in Muleless red, that we pump into and then take to the elsan to dispose of contents – Gary made about 8 trips to the elsan – this makes up for him not working the locks!

Having finished our pump out Gary had to reverse Muleless back to the junction, so that we could turn round and head towards Braunston.


Narrowboats dont reverse well – no steerage! We were lucky it was a calm day and Gary made a perfect reverse manoeuvre and turn!

Looking very pleased with himself after the turn!


We then headed through Braunston Tunnel.


There are no huge leaks through this tunnel, so we emerged quite dry!

The Braunston locks are very close to the tunnel, so we were very soon waiting at the top for two hire boats to go down in front of us.


As I made the lock ready for us to use, NB Lay zee daze which had been moored decided they would come down with us to share the work.


Between the top 2 locks, CRT were doing some work to the towpath side, and had helpfully (not) left their workboat at the site, which caused quite an obstruction – especially as 2 boats were just coming up the lock and had to pass us in the pound on the way to the lock our two boats had just left!


The rest of the flight had no more “hazards”, but the weather, which had been lovely and sunny started to look very ominous!


We all decided it was time for waterproofs – just in time! We had a really heavy downpour, and were really pleased to leave the last of the locks and find a mooring in our “usual spot” close to the road bridge (and water tap!).


All the locals have been busy since we left – plenty of babies around now!


On Wednesday after a visit to the shop and butcher to top up supplies, we pulled back onto the water point to top up the tank. It was starting to get really busy in Braunston, with boats passing all the time. Almost straight away someone else pulled in to our just vacated spot to wait for the water tap!

As it was such a lovely day we decided we wanted to find a nice quiet spot in the countryside, so we set off and headed down towards Napton.

As we passed one of our favourite spots, Foxes Gate, there weren't many people moored, but as we wanted to charge our batteries we headed on by.


We spent a lot of time on this part of the canal over winter, but it looks totally different now!


By the time we were passing the bridge 102 moorings we had charged the batteries enough, and pulled in.

We soon had the washing out to dry and our directors chairs out for their first airing!


We were soon visited by some more locals with their new families!


We barbecued some lovely beef burgers we had bought from the Braunston butcher and spent a lovely afternoon and evening – at last, this is what we signed up for!

Thursday we headed off in search of diesel – we were getting a bit low!

Just as we were approaching this moored widebeam (we aren't the only ones with washing out!), a CRT workboat came under the bridge, and ended up stuck in the shallows after we had gone by!


We enjoyed our trip in the sun down the bit of canal that looked so different to last time we visited!

We filled with diesel (ouch!) and topped up with water and then headed back to our mooring by bridge 102. Batteries charging nicely too! (State of Charge 96.7%)


Directors chairs were deployed again, and we relaxed with drinks and I started reading my new Jeffrey Deaver novel on my Kindle!

Friday, with alcohol supplies seriously depleted (!) we headed back up to Braunston.

The weather was looking really good for the weekend, and the canal was already busy, so at the blind bends I was sent to the bow as “spotter” and enjoyed the view without the long roof of the boat for a change.



We moored in one of the only available spots opposite the Boathouse Pub, and made a quick trip to the shop for the essential supplies. We decided it was too crowded for us, so after filling with water (again), and turning in the marina entrance we headed back out of Braunston.


Virtually every spot was taken – there was even a widebeam moored at the pub!


Our destination was Foxes Gate. We moored up about 2pm, it was already busy, and by 7pm there was hardly a spot left!


On Saturday, boats started going past about 7am, and there was a steady stream of boats heading in both directions all day.

The weather was gorgeous, we even had to deploy the parasol for some shade!


The local swan family called by again, but the youngsters were tired, so mum was giving them a lift!


We barbecued some more of the butchers burgers – this time they were Pork and Apple! and spent a lovely afternoon watching all the boats go by!

Sunday morning there were even more boats on the move – everyone kept saying it was busier than they had ever seen!


There was a bit of a breeze that was catching out some boats, and there were several tricky moments by bridge 100 – especially when the widebeam arrived!


We thought this was a bit of a tight squeeze . . .


until this dutch barge came along!


He was a really tight fit!


And then a short while later, he came back again – I’m glad we didn't meet him at a bridge!


About 4pm we decided we would head off, run down to the waterpoint and fill up and return to bridge 102 moorings (if there was any space!), ready to head back towards Braunston on Monday.

Although the weather was still lovely, some boats had headed off, so 3 hours later we moored up by bridge 102, batteries charged, water tank full!

We will be visiting the Crick show over the bank holiday, so we are staying close to Napton to be able to get our car from Yvonnne and Roy easily. Unlike the previous 3 years, we will only be visiting on one day, just to pickup any “essentials” we now know we “need”.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Up the stairs and down the stairs!

So there we were, last Thursday, pledging never to do such a long day again – so we did a short hop to Foxton!

It was raining, so we didnt start too early (11.40!) we managed the nearly 5 miles with NO LOCKS, just one short tunnel in 2 hrs 20 mins – unfortunately it rained all the way so no pictures! We moored at the bottom of the flight and settled in for a relaxed evening.

Friday was a better day, only showers forecast, so after filling the water tank we moved across to the bottom of the locks and I went to book in with the lockie.

I had to walk to the top of the flight to find the lockie, and as there was no-one else going up or down we could start up the flight straight away.

Gary was chatting to some gongoozlers, but he soon headed into the lock as soon as I had it ready.


Entering the first “stair”.


We made our way up the flight, with just a short rainshower that chased away all the gongoozlers!


Someone had been allowed to start down the flight, and we were going to pass in the pound between locks 5 and 6 (counting from the bottom!), so we had to wait in lock 5 until they were ready to exit lock 6!


Then we had to move into the pound and tie up to the bollards . . .


so that they could come straight out of their lock and into the one we had just left!


A bit of a tight squeeze!

We then carried on up the flight, ably assisted by our very friendly and cheerful lockie!


As you can see the sky looked ominous, but we were lucky it didnt rain on us. 


We reached the top in one hour, using electric drive of course, which used just 2% of our power, which we soon put back in!

We found a nice spot to stop for lunch, and then made the steady plod along the top pound.

Gary is now getting to be a real Boater – he is even wearing his boaters hat!


We missed a lot of new born lambs being in Leicester, but there are plenty of boisterous youngsters about now!


We then spotted the entrance to Husbands Bosworth Tunnel


As we planned to go through the tunnel in electric drive, I thought I would try a video, with sound, to give you a taste of the experience!

NB Muleless in Husbands Bosworth Tunnel

The link should take you to YouTube! We used just 1.2% of our power, which again we made up very quickly.

Shortly after the tunnel we were at the junction of the Welford Arm and moored up on the rings there where we stopped on the way up. Just 5 hrs and 20 mins, including lunch stop today – we are definitely getting the hang of shorter days!

Saturday was promised to be very showery and blustery, so we decided not to move, and just chilled out. We started off on our own on the moorings, and by mid afternoon there were 5 of us – everyone else decided that they had had enough of the wind by then!

Sunday it was time to move on to Crick. We left at noon, so missed some earlier showers. No locks again today, so a nice easy cruise.

We passed these boats with good names -

DSCF3045 DSCF3047

We were being followed by some hire boats, so decided to stop at Yelvertoft Wharf for water and to let them pass – only one of them decided to stop too, causing complete chaos as there is not much room there between the permanent moorers and the bridge!

After the second hire boat had gone through, and finding out that we would be more than half an hour filling with water, they decided to carry on to Crick to fill up there, and as soon as they had left, a share boat pulled in instead.

There is a lovely old building opposite the water point – part of the original wharf I suppose, but now used as a house.


We were soon on our way again, and this time with no-one following. We moored up in Crick at 5pm, so another 5 hour day.

Since we had a late start, we thought we would have a sunday roast in one of the pubs in Crick, so as soon as we were sorted out we walked up and discovered that the Red Lion wasnt open, so went in the Wheatsheaf instead! It was a nice meal, but not really enough potatoes and veg for our taste! A quick stop at the Co-op for essentials on the way back to the boat then a relaxing evening in front of the telly.

Monday we left Crick at 1pm – we seem to be getting later every day!

Almost straight away we were in Crick Tunnel – we were wearing our waterproofs ready for what the day had in store for us, so were armed against the notorious “boat wash” that is the water running from the roof! Again we were on electric drive, so heard the water before we could see it! Crick is definitely the wettest tunnel we have been through so far!

After the tunnel it is about a mile and a half to the top of the Watford lock flight – the second set of “stairs” in the title!

We stopped at the top, a boat was just entering the top lock as we got there, and I went to find the lockie again.

Muleless waiting at the top, with the M1 just behind us.


We had to wait at the top for a while, as there was a boat at the bottom waiting to come up, after 6 boats had gone down.

We took the time to have lunch and then got ready for the descent.

Having got us going the lockie left us to it and we made steady progress down the flight.

Steerers eye view from second lock looking back up.


Yours truly hard at work, still wearing the raincoat which did at least keep the rain at bay!


Watford locks are in a beautiful setting. If it wasnt for the noise from the motorway you would think you were miles from civilisation!


Steerers eye view from inside the “staircase”


We were soon down the “stairs” and passing a boat waiting in the next pound, and then heading down the last two locks.

Another gentle one and half miles brought us to Norton Junction, and we moored up in the sun after just 3 and 3/4 hours (including lunch!).

We have definitely gotten back to easy cruising!