First off a belated HAPPY NEW YEAR to all our readers!!!
We havent moved far – we stayed in Wigrams Marina until 30 December, and then moved up to Braunston for over the New Year, then moved on to Brownsover for shopping and a trip to the Cinema to see the third instalment of The Hobbit.
We did do some miles in the car though – with a visit down south to family and friends for christmas.
We had a great evening and catch up with June and Chris and admired their fabulous new house extension!
They now have an ultra posh utility room and fabulous dining room!
Mum had organised a family get together, and we had a great afternoon with 4 generations of family!
We also had a great evening with Matt at the Slug and Lettuce in Fareham – complete with cocktails for me and Matt as Gary was driving for a change! (So no photos – too many cocktails!!!)
We headed back to the boat on 23 December, and had a quiet restful Christmas Day, just the two of us, for our second on the boat!
Boxing day we headed to Yvonne and Roys for the other half of the family get together!
We had originally planned to leave the Marina on the 27th, but decided to have an extra day to relax and catch up with the washing etc.
On the 28th we woke to a frozen over marina, so had to stay a bit longer!
On the 29th the ice was thicker, so again we didnt leave!
The marina was open for business and someone obviously needed diesel badly, as they forced their way to the service wharf – making their own channel on the way. The noise was really odd – not just cracking and splitting the ice but metallic like sounds too!
I did a video and put it up on YouTube here – have a listen to the odd sounds!
Once they had broken the ice and created a turning space another boat followed them in too. The marina’s pump out machine was frozen up – so no pump outs (good job we had ours when we arrived at the marina!).
I dont think the ducks were too keen on the ice!
We went for a walk around the marina and checked on the state of the canal at the entrance.
The canal had a clear path (still ice at the sides) from Braunston (to the right in the pic) and to Calcutt (straight on under the bridge) but to Napton (left) had still been solid until one of the boats that visited the services turned that way – we could hear him breaking the ice until long after he was out of sight!
Our mooring was right down the front by the service wharf, and we were hoping that all that movement meant we could escape the marina the next day.
We’d had enough of the marina by now, so on the 30th we made our escape – although first we had to fill with water (from the next pontoon over as our tap was frozen!) and break the ice behind us.
Once we had reversed past the end of the pontoon we could turn in the non frozen bit in the middle and then head out of the marina – breaking the ice on the way!
A short video of our escape is here.
Once out of the marina the route to Braunston had been used by other boats, so although there was ice about it had been broken already.
We made it to Braunston and moored up by the junction – phew!
New Years Eve dawned – and the canal was frozen again!
Being at Braunston means boats always moving – so at 11 oclock (quite late for Braunston) a boat did come through and broke the ice!
I was fascinated by the piles of ice floating about!
In the afternoon we went for a walk past the marina which still had a lot of thick ice.
Our walk took us to the Admiral Nelson – where we spent a pleasant few hours before returning to the boat for dinner – and discovering on the way that the Boathouse was already shut at 8pm!
By midnight there were no signs of life around us, so we decided not to blow the horn – next year though I will be trying harder to recruit support!!!!
New Years Day – Gary decides to do the engine and gear box oil change all goes well to start with.
Tom and Jan went past on NB Waiouru, spotted Gary working in the engine bay and Tom quipped about Gary doing Toms oil change too – the next day we read about Toms disaster!!!
Our problem came when Gary tried to remove the oil from the gear box! He couldnt remove the drain plug as it is inaccessible, so we tried to syphon the oil out – unsuccessfully!
After quite a long time trying, Ann from NB Oakfield was passing and stopped to say hello. On hearing our predicament went to fetch Keith and his pump.
Thank god for other boaters who are so helpful. Keith arrived with his special engine/gearbox oil pump and saved the day! With the oil situation sorted out we invited them over later for drinks to say thank you!
Last winter we often saw NB Oakfield, and even moored in the same area a few times, but never got a chance to meet properly – we have now!
We were invited to NB Oakfield the next night for the next instalment! and then Keith even volunteered to pop over the next morning to check out our accumulator!
Thanks for a great couple of evenings Anne and Keith and all the help (we have now bought a bike pump and tyre pressure gauge!).
So on the 4th of Jan we were ready to leave Braunston to head to Brownsover – and it was foggy – really foggy!
We had moved the boat the previous day so that we could do a pump out and fill with water, but we still wanted a full water tank before we left, and the tap by the elsan was frozen, but Gary had spotted someone using the tap by the stop house so we headed up there, as we got closer we could make out the boat in the fog it was NB Waiouru!
Tom was just finished filling, so Gary hovered with Muleless and I hopped off to say hello.
After telling Tom and Jan to try the New Inn at the top of Buckby locks for Sunday Lunch they pulled away – we wont see them again for a whilst, they are heading towards London.
The fog was really thick – we couldnt even see Butchers Bridge from the Gongoozlers Rest!
When the water tank was full, we put our tunnel light on ready for the journey!
We turned in the marina entrance and headed back to the junction – passing another boat on the way- luckily not in the bridge hole!
As we passed the junction and approached NB Oakfield (with the solar panels on the left ahead) there was a boat stopped on the water point – and another just coming past him!
Gary had to quickly reverse Muleless to prevent a head on collision and we only just kept out of the hire boat’s way as he squeezed through without slowing down!
As we headed past Oakfield Keith popped his head out to see what was going on!
As you can see there wasnt much room to manoeuvre!
Luckily that was our only close encounter on a very foggy journey! Traveling in a car at 30 mph would have been scary, but doing 3 mph we could always see well enough!
As we approached Hillmorton Locks we were quite close before we could see them.
A boat had just come up and very kindly opened the gate again for us to go straight in – and then Gary hopped off to work the locks!
This time I kept the camera to get a steerers eye view – but the battery on the camera had other ideas and I only managed a couple of photos!
No-one else was coming up or down, and there was no wind again and this time I made a perfect entry to the middle lock!
I think Gary is still a bit apprehensive when I am steering!
The top pound was really high and the water was coming over the top of the gate as I went down.
I made a good entry into the bottom lock and picked Gary up at the lock mouth after he closed the gate when I exited, so I was quite pleased with myself!!
We were soon moored up at Brownsover and as I said at the beginning of the blog we have shopped and been to the cinema. We enjoyed The Hobbit, it is a shame that was the last one in the series!