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70 now and our five wonderful years aboard our narrowboat Skyy seem along time ago. Jacquie, allowed me to build my replica three wheeler kit car, which was a great success. Now it's time to start on a bigger project and that is to make a good Triumph Stag even better, here goes.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009



I awoke early considering how I was going to lift the old batteries out of the wooden battery tray, which is tucked right under the rear deck The 135AH batteries are as big and as heavy as marine batteries are likely to get and having lifted the four new batteries on board yesterday I knew it was going to be a struggle, but whilst lying in bed I devised a simple and hopefully effective plan.

The sun was shining and straight after breakfast I got stuck in. The easy part was removing the lid to the battery tray, un-strapping and disconnecting the old batteries, firstly making notes to ensure I knew which cables connected to which battery. As I thought, because there was only about twelve inches of space above the batteries it was impossible for me to lift them over the six inch deep surround of the battery tray, but by inserting the ball end of my boat hook through one of the batteries carrying handle and with Jacquie bearing down gently on the other end from the towpath, the front end of one of the battery rose above the tray edge allowing me to pull it towards me and lift it out on to the bank. The other three followed just as easily and the four new ones were lowered into place without problem and quickly reconnected and strapped down. I love it when a plan comes together.

We stayed where we were for the Williams sister, Wimbledon final and then set off for the last couple of miles back to our permanent mooring at Wigrams Turn Marina at Napton Our intention is to stay marina based whilst all the hire cruisers are out and about during the summer school holidays, but we do have several friends coming to stay and whilst they are on board we will be out cruising locally, and hopefully I will have something worth blogging about, until then I will sign off.

What a fantastic time it has been, we started on the 14th of April almost three months ago. Nearly 40 friend/relatives have visited us in that period, some just for the evening, others much longer, but every visit has been hugely enjoyable for us, if not for our guests. The highlight of the trip has to have been traveling down the tidal Thames, from Teddington to Limehouse and through it all the weather has been wonderful, with just enough rain to spice things up, now we just need to decide which direction we head off to in the Autumn.

Keep watching this space!!!!



A heavy morning shower of rain cooled and freshened the air and flattened the flowers on the roof but I’m sure that they will recover. By the time we got going the rain had stopped and within half an hour we entered Braunston tunnel. This tunnel was opened in 1796 and I don’t think that it has been closed foe any length of time in the intervening years, but there is a kink half way along the 2042 yds. where the builders made a mistake in its alignment.

A boat coming towards us, waited just before the kink and as we approached my large torch, which was well inboard on the cabin roof was suddenly swept overboard. The torch is waterproof and bouyant and crew on the other boat tried to recover it as it floated passed them. I went into reverse and the torch slowly bobbed back towards my stern and I was able to grab it, to cheers from the other boat, thanks guys for your help. Why the torch got swept overboard is a complete mystery, it was tucked up beside the rear sliding hatch, well out of harms way, has anybody had a similar experience in this tunnel? Spooky!!

Back into daylight and down the six locks to moor up outside Wharf House Narrowboats, to collect four new 135ah batteries. Our domestic batteries have slowly been losing their ability to hold a charge, resulting in having to run the engine in the evening, even after cruising for over six hours and again first thing in the morning. They are over four years old now and that would appear to be average life expectancy. With four new batteries lined up on the stern we set off in bright sunshine to moor a little way before bridge 103. Our intention was to head for home today, that being Wigrams Turn Marina, but the setting here is so beautiful and Jacquie wanted to watch the Murray/Roddick semi final so we decided to stay the night.



It was only a few miles to the village of Weedon, where we stopped briefly and walked to the petrol station for supplies. After another couple of miles the M1 came alongside and the canal was sandwiched between the motorway and the railway line with the old Roman Watling Street, now the A5, just the other side of the rail track. It was in this area when we saw coming towards us ‘NB MOORE TO LIFE’ followed instantly by Sue & Vic on ‘NB RETIREMENT NO PROBLEM’ a quick wave and enquiries as to how we all are and on we go. Sue’s blogg was a must read (and still is) when we were planning our adventure and amazingly we dumped into them on our very first days cruise last year

As we moved up the seven locks towards Norton Junction the canal swung away from the motorway and railway and life got quieter again. We had hoped to find a good mooring at the top of the locks but lots of BW work barges were taking up all the space, but rather than turn left to Braunston, we continued a little way along the Leicester Section, before turning round in the entrance to Welton Hyde Marina and stopping under the welcome shade of the trees for the rest of the day.

Monday, 6 July 2009



It was going to be another hot one, and an early start was the only option, but by the time we had gone up the seven locks and arrived at the entrance to Blisworth tunnel, it was seriously hot. I had missed the water point in the centre of Stoke Bruerne as our guide showed it to be close to the tunnel, I stopped there to check, but no tap. Not a problem, but as we are having lots of cool showers I don’t want to run the tank dry.

I pushed off from the bank to line up with the tunnel entrance, and heard a shout, I reversed as a bow of a boat started to emerge shrouded in smoke and steam, it was a very old steam powered working boat towing an unpowered boat otherwise called a ‘butty’, returning from the Historic Working Boat Festival that had been held at Braunston over the last weekend. They thanked me for waiting and apologized for steamy state of the tunnel and when I fully entered the 3075 yd. long tunnel it was impossible to see the sides because of the steam and I bounced from side to side until it cleared.

The tunnel was originally opened in 1805, but was closed for four years, reopening in 1984 whilst major repairs were undertaken, this involved relining a long section with interlocking concrete blocks, the same technique that was later used in the construction of the Channel Tunnel. There are regular openings in the tunnel sides that drain water into the canal, as I probed these with my torch, I was surprised to see a pigeon looking back at me, it didn’t blink or move as my torch illuminated it, so I feel that somebody was having a laugh and had planted a dummy pigeon. Check it out and let me know if it is still there, on the right side coming from Stoke in the concreted section of the tunnel.

Within a couple of miles of leaving the damp coolness of the tunnel we reached Gayton Junction where a five mile arm runs down to the town of Northampton and from there onto the River Nene and the Fens. We would leave this for another trip for another time, but we did stop at the junction for water and then moved on a few more miles before mooring alongside the Wharf Inn at Bugbrook to fill our personel tanks with cold cider, lovely!!



Just a couple of hours cruising today as we moved up from Old Wolverton and stopped a little way before the Stoke Bruerne flight of locks, It was hot hot hot by mid day after the freshness of early morning. Cold showers were the order of the day and more Wimbledon for Jacquie.



We decided to stay put for the day but walked into the village of Cosgrove and went down the tiny tunnel under the canal to get from the towpath side of the village to the other side.

The village only has one pub now, the Barley Mow, which we didn’t visit. The other two pubs had been converted into residences, but we were able to identify them as we went in search of the, nearly, one thousand year old church, which, inside was wonderfully cool and calming in comparison to the sweltering heat outside.

As we returned crossing the towpath of the Great Ouze Aqueduct, I went down to take a picture of the aqueduct from below, it was very overgrown and impossible to get a decent sh ot, but I did discover an even smaller, wetter, tunnel under the canal allowing walkers to continue their trek along the banks of the Great Ouze.

Angela & David were joining us for dinner this evening. They have a river cruiser on the Ouze at Bedford and maybe next year we will venture onto the Fens and meet up with them. In the meantime the table was set up, on the towpath alongside SKYY and the parasol was placed to shade the diners, it actually came in very handy to keep of the pouring rain as a thunder storm passed by, but the rain in no way spoilt our evening, in fact it was very refreshing.



The run back to Old Wolverton down the five locks at Stoke Bruerne and the one at Cosgrove was uneventful apart from the increasing warmth of the sun. We turned SKYY round in the wide section of canal before the closed Galleon Inn and had a late lunch before sending a relaxed Andrew on his way back home to Alison., having made a date for both of them to return in September

We settled down and watched the sun set in a dramatic fashion.