Today was cold, overcast, and drizzly when we got up. The winter in San Francisco is pretty much like the worst parts of summer in England, while the summer in San Francisco is like the best parts of the summer in England. Undaunted, we continued north, back to Stoke Breurne and its flight of seven locks. Here a volunteer lock keeper called Leo helped us up the flight while coaching us on our lock technique and sharing details of canal lore. Thanks Leo!
Then we headed back into the depths of Blisworth tunnel. I felt more confident this time, having survived the first passage. We only met one other boat coming the other way, and that was soon after we entered, so for most of the time I could just concentrate on steering towards the tiny dot of light at the end of the tunnel. It’s impressive that the engineers in 1800 could dig a dead straight and level tunnel for two miles, in spite of starting from vertical shafts in multiple places. I noticed one of the air shafts with a regular flow of water down it was starting to develop stalactites.
We headed back to Gayton Junction, where we had picked up the boat. We needed to pump out the holding tank. (Water from the sinks and shower goes into the canal but the toilet goes into a holding tank which needs to be emptied periodically.) We’re also approaching the point where we need a launderette, but that is a problem for tomorrow. Talking of tomorrow, the broken lock up ahead has been partially repaired. One gate is working, so narrowboats can get through, but wider boats still have problems. Anyhow, the way ahead is more or less clear, once the backlog of a few hundred boats that are queued up to go through the lock have made it.
While we were at the fuel dock, we saw a narrowboat being lifted back into the canal by crane.
As you can see, they are completely flat bottomed, with no keel.
This makes steering interesting. Once the boat starts turning, it will go on turning for a long time, unless you correct it with the rudder.
Since the marina is up a side branch of the canal that we don’t want to go down, we had to go to a winding hole and turn around. I managed this time without hitting anything or ending up in the bushes. It helped that there were no bushes to hit, though. We moored across from the marina as they have two hours of free WiFi. I used it to download Game of Thrones. Duh duh da da duh duh da da duuuuh.