Recently, Kate, a friend of ours bought a narrowboat to live on – her name had come to the top of the waiting list for a mooring in Cambridge. Unfortunately, the demands of her job meant that she didn’t have the time to move it herself. So we offered to move Odessa for her, from Crick to Denver where she wanted to take it the last leg herself. We reckoned we could do this 112 mile, 70 lock journey in 4 long days, all being well, and so it proved!
Crick – Northampton Marina 22 miles 31 locks
We’d gone up to Crick the night before so we would be ready to set off on the boat as soon as the boatyard had filled her up with diesel and the snags (toilet bowl leak being the major one!) had been fixed. We set off at 10:30, Kate happy at the helm of her new boat, through Crick tunnel, down Watford and Buckby locks.
At the bottom of Buckby Kate had to head back to Cambridge, and we carried on to Gayton junction. We wanted to get to Northampton Marina in order to stay on our tight schedule. It was still light when we got to the top, and as we know the flight pretty well we decided to descend. The first few locks were all in water and we flew down.
Then at lock 5, I was just commenting on how much water there was (mistake!) when I looked ahead and saw that pound 6 was empty. Dry in fact. Up I went to run water down from the Grand Union. When I returned a C&RT van can haring down the towpath, towards lock 12. I went down to find out what was going on and to let them know that I was running water down. I arrived to find some boaters getting a bit of a talking to from C&RT. The story came out that they had attempted to ascend the locks heading for Sheffield the day before, but got only up as far as lock 7 before they got stuck fast and had to call C&RT out. The boat is called Safest Haven but we have been told it is the back end of GU butty Pavo, normally based in Ely. Unfortunately it has spread, resulting in it being too wide for the locks. A crane and a lorry is their only hope of getting to their destination now. As it is only 40ft or so they had winded and started back down. By the time we came along behind them the following day, they’d only managed to get down to lock 12, and had flushed themselves out of every lock, draining the pounds on the way, and leaving all the bottom paddles open. When we saw C&RT arrive, Pavo’s crew had just called them out for a second time and the two blokes who attended were not in the best of moods, hence the talking to they were getting! C&RT basically told them that it was too dark to continue safely and ordered them to tie up.
We struggled down behind them, attempting to restore some order to the mess, and made gradual progress. By the time we got to them they had stopped between locks 12 and 13, and we were finally able to overtake. Thankfully a full moon improved visibility and we carried on with no further issues, arriving at Northampton Marina at 10pm. Our fourth visit to the marina in a year: we’ve got a bit of a habit of stopping there, it’s great to be able to book in and know you’ll find a safe place to tie up.