Wednesday 4th August 2010
We started out early to be at the top of the locks at 8am when they were unlocked. The woman lock-keeper was nice enough to open a few minutes early and help with the first couple of locks. There was no-one coming up and we were first down. All the locks were set against us until the bottom lock where, by the time we got there, a boat had come through and was waiting for lock
We went on at a fairly slow speed and were almost surprised to find ourselves at the junction and then Buckby locks. There was a boat coming out of the top lock so we decided to go ahead. As we worked the lock, a lady from another boat waiting to come up, disappeared back to her boat and didn’t reappear. Marea worked the lock on her own. As we exited the lock and the boat coming up passed us, I said “Thanks for the help”. “Are we supposed to help?” was the reply from the steerer. Interesting point of view since we had completely prepared the lock for them in working it ourselves.
Waiting for the lock to fill
At the next lock, we were almost down when another boat came along so, having exited, we decided to wait for them to come down and join us at the next (these are double locks, remember). After we had waited 10 minutes and they hadn’t appeared, we started to work the lock anyway. With the lock half empty, we saw them appear round the bend, so we stopped working the lock, dropped the paddles and came round to refill the lock. As they came up, it was obvious that they weren’t going to join us, so we restarted the lock emptying.
Into every life a little rain...
They were, in fact, waiting for another boat with which they had been travelling so, after the next lock (pouring rain), we decided to moor, dry out, make coffee and let them pass so as not to hold them up – travelling in a pair, sharing the work, so faster than us.
After coffee and a rest, we teamed up with another boat to go down the remaining locks. At the penultimate lock, with two boats coming up and we two going down, the lock was set, ready for us. However, another boat below closed the gates, opened the paddles and set the lock emptying so they could come up. It’s called ‘stealing the water’. It set us back about 15 minutes – not that we were in a hurry, but it also doubles the work and Marea, who was working the locks was getting tired. Our working the lock would also have saved them the trouble and work so it was a bit of a mystery what they thought they were up to.
We hoped that the pottery at Long Buckby would be open (we bought some exciting pots last time we passed through) but it seemed to be closed and the pots in the window were rather boring. We moored by the marina for our last night aboard. Gentle cruise to Blisworth the next morning, then off and home.