Saturday 17 December 2005
We moved the boat through the first lock yesterday afternoon to make it easier to load all the stuff from the car onto the boat and then moored below the lock for the night. I left the engine running to charge the batteries a bit but the engine hiccuped and I shut it down, wondering if I'd had all my diesel pinched again. The night was very clear with no wing and we woke to a very bright, still, cold morning with a lot of frost about. I started the engine after checking the diesel level was OK but again we got a couple of hiccups so I decided to change the fuel filters as they had not been touched for 1500 hours. I was a bit slap dash bleeding the second filter and managed to get air into the injector pump so I had to bleed the high pressure side as well, I'm glad I have a good starter battery, it does help a lot. We finally pushed off at 1115 am heading for Braunston for a pump out. There were hardly any boats moored at the Folly and none at Napton Bridge. We met about half a dozen boats on our way to Braunston, most were privately owed and I think only one was an Ownerships, no hire boats at all. As we passed the winding hole below the Folly the wind had picked up quite a bit with quite a bite to it, but it was bright and dry. We went into Braunston Marina , parted with £7-50 and did the business, we Now have an almost empty tank for the New Year trip. I noticed that Ivor was selling diesel at 49p/ltr. After leaving Braunston the wind had died down to give a very still late afternoon, the sky was clear but the sun was falling fast, we pushed on well past sunset and moored just before Calcutt top lock at about 4-30 pm in rapidly fading light. The engine hasn't missed a beat all day so hopefully the filters were the problem.
Sunday 18 December 2005
I took the dog out last thing last night with a bright moon high in the sky. It looked as if the canal had started to freeze over. When we woke this morning I was very surprised to look out of the porthole and see water not ice, it was even more surprising as when I checked the temperature it had been down below -4 overnight. When I went out with he dog I found that the only open water was about 200 yards by our boat, the rest was covered in ice. We set off just after 9 and ploughed through to the water point, here the ice was about 3/4 inch thick. The water point was frozen solid and our water tank was down to 10%. It was at this point we had a serious think about continuing down to Stockton. If the weather stays as it is now and freezes just as hard tonight then no way will we be able to return to our mooring on Monday and as we are going to Diana's mums for Christmas, no way can we afford to get stuck for a week, so we decided to wind and head back to the moorings. This turned out easier said than done. The area was solid ice between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick, a boat was moored just above the lock mooring , the ideal place to turn just at the widest point so we did a lot of shunting back and forth breaking ice to get the bows round. From here there was ice most of the way to Napton. At Wigrams turn it took two attempts to turn up the Oxford. We continued ice breaking until just before The Bridge Inn, Napton where a boat had left earlier heading south. We stopped at The Folly where it was more sheltered and the taps running free. We just had to thaw our hose out in a sink of hot water first. A boat had come down the locks so the first couple were with us, we then met a boat "Genesis" coming down, after we had passed them we found all the locks against us with all the top gates left open. We winded in the Engine Arm and slipped back into our moorings just after 1pm.