10 th April
The day started well with a run of 5 locks up towards Foxton in glorious morning sunlight.
Then it was through Sapperton tunnel and it was after than when James turned the bilge pump on and it didn’t stop pumping that we realised something was up! The weedhatch gaskets were failing and letting in rather too much water. (Who wants one of these newfangled contraptions anyway? Willow doesn’t have one as they weren’t invented in 1935!)
So we stopped just beyond Debdale and had a look. The gaskets were made of that grey foam pipe lagging you get in DIY stores (which are perfect for sword fights in the aisles!) One edge had no gasket at all so we cut a strip off one of the rubber doormats and used that but it still leaked a bit. We were nearly at Foxton so we resolved to head up the flight and have another look once we were through.
We only had half an hour to wait before we were able to start up Foxton locks, just enough time to pop into the shop for bacon and jaffa cakes.
Once up the flight we moored and had another go. This time we removed the old gasket, sanded it and stuck on new door mat rubber all the way round, using a tube of roofing mastic we found in a cupboard. This helped but water was still getting forced in. Round a few corners we stopped again, adding a second layer of rubber and some of the grey lagging we’d stripped off back in. Thankfully this seemed to do the trick. Just as we were testing it for a final time, who should come round the corner but John (Halfie) and Jan on Jubilee! They stopped next to us and we had a look around their lovely boat and a catch up before heading off, hoping that the seal would hold.
Thankfully it did as we wanted to get as far as possible- we’d set ourselves another deadline because our friends on Melaleuca were going to be stopping the following night in Northampton Marina and we wanted to be able to join them there. This meant we needed to be down the Watford staircase, along the Grand Union, down Buckby and the Northampton flight the next day.
We stopped when it got dark, at Yelvertoft, close to where we’d stopped when coming this way with Willow last year ready to get started early the next day.