Sunday, 6 June 2010

Bulbourne to Cook's Wharf

(Posted by Alan)

Once again despite getting up early to walk Charlie, (both together this time), we were moderately lethargic about actually getting going, despite what looked a fairly good day.

Then Cath said "I know that engine", as the characteristic "thump thump" of Owl's Kelvin K2 grew louder. Jim and Sue are taking Owl first to a Stoke Bruerne event, then to the historic boat event at Braunston, and had spent the last week smartening her up for these events.

Cath, however, was not awake enough initially to think of the possibility of sharing the nine locks back to our base with them. Could we get going before they had slipped too far ahead ? Well the latest massive barge moored in the narrows up there certainly didn't help, as we had to halt some time for two boats coming the other way, so by the time we were at the top Marsworth lock, Owl was already leaving it. All was not lost though, as a very slow crew were working into the next one down, coming up, and Jim had to hold in the first pound until we were into it also.

From then we had a very smooth passage down the flight, although Owl's deeper draught, and Jim's need to get it lined up at each lock after the swerving intermediate pounds made shadowing it down harder work than when sharing with less deeply draughted boats on previous days, at places where the intermediate pounds are generally straighter.

Still I managed to enter each lock at more or less the same time as Owl, which I love because I'm not particularly good on Chalice at being able to stop and not drift sideways across the lock. (On some boats I can, honestly, but I've not mastered it for Chalice).

through with Owl - Jim and I got rebuked for talking too much, and not getting on with it!

I simply loved the restrained slow beat of Owl's Kelvin driving it's mighty prop. Jim hardly ever seemed to need to open it up for more than a few beats, and much of the time it manoeuvred or stopped on barely more than tick-over. What a contrast from Chalice's buzzing, (but historic!), van engine.

The main flight was all too quickly over, but we were further cheered below the bottom lock as Owl worked it's way past the Barlow's wooden motor "Hood", restored at, (I believe), the local wooden boat specialist a few years back.

passes Hood

An otherwise excellent morning was temporarily marred by one of the local wide-beam trip boats insisting on holding mid channel along one of the narrower stretches, although he could easily have moved over to give us 6 feet more room. We were pushed into the shallows, and through some dense overhanging trees. I must admit these boats are usually very professionally operated, so I have no idea why what happened did on this occasion.

All to soon we had done the final two separated "Lower" Marsworth locks, said our farewells to Owl's owners, and were back on our home mooring, wishing we could have carried on with them to Stoke Bruerne and Braunston.

All in all a very enjoyable trip, with the obvious highlight of the choppy Thames through central London on a magnificently sunny day in a week where the weather had sometimes been far less good.

Bulbourne to Cook's Wharf
Miles: 2.5 , Locks: 9

Total Miles: 118.8 , Total Locks: 133

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