Wednesday, 12 September 2018

And now, the end is near...

From the bottom of Napton locks, to our marina mooring, is but ten miles. Ten miles we are very familiar with. But it is time to bite the bullet. We have commitments from the middle of the month, taking us into early October. The weather remains kind, but we do yearn for the little things.

Like flushing a toilet without emptying a cassette. Having a long hot shower without worrying that you are using all the hot water. And not checking the state of charge of the battery bank every time a light is switched on!

Living on a canal boat is enchanting, but for us, there comes a time when home calls.

Considering our mileage and lock usage this year, the boat is showing little in the way of  war wounds. Those that we have are below the gunwhale, always the area prone to impact. Surprisingly, most damage was sustained on the Thames.  Low water levels and lock landings more suited to river based boats took it's toll. A few scrapes and scratches. If we return, larger fenders may be advisable.

So we set off from Napton, aiming to find a location where we could touch up the paint, turn around, touch up the other side, then turn again! We found this at the Bridge moorings. Once a popular pub, now being converted to a residence, it has a winding hole. The sun was out, the traffic light. We moored up, trimmed the bank side vegetation and Ali got the sandpaper out. Quick rub down, paint on, then turn her around and do the other side. After having lunch, we turned again and headed for Braunston.

Traffic was light, but there were numerous moored boats. Braunston is something of a canal Mecca. Be it the number of nearby marinas and hire bases, or the winter moorings on offer, boats gravitate here. We had a sedate chug around the bends, passing Wigrams turn and then the ever popular moorings near Flecknoe . At the junction, for us, it was a left turn, away from the hub that is Braunston and out into open country.

We found a mooring sheltered from the increasing wind, halfway to our final destination. Even out in the sticks, the Braunston effect was apparent. It was busy, but we found a free spot. At this time of year, not being under a tree is truly advantageous. Birds eat fruit, mainly blackberries and elderberries, then they evacuate! Makes a fair mess if you are beneath a roost. So we were safe here. Shit happens, but best to avoid when at all possible!

We are so near our marina here, but loathe to go in. Nothing wrong with our mooring in Dunchurch, but it is akin to being in a boat/car/caravan park. You have lost your freedom. So we are putting off going in until the last minute.

But, we had to face it. The time had come for us. We always intended to be in the marina in time for the BBQ being held on the 15th and then we have a family wedding later in the month. So with the weather forecast to turn, we cast off and made the slow chug in. The wind was rising somewhat, so we knew the very exposed marina would make manoeuvring interesting!

First stop on our way in was onto the service pontoon. This has a highly efficient Elsan point. Then, noting the prevailing wind direction, we rounded the island so we were head into the wind and slotted into our home mooring. Appears we have new neighbours,  but no one home upon our arrival.

As we are only going to be off the boat for a few days, we loaded the car with perishables and clothing, then bade her farewell. Whilst she has fared well this year, we will be back to give her a thorough wash and polish before autumn truly sets in. So it's off home, back to reality and planning our 2019 cruise.

For those interested, our travel stats for this year are shown to the right of this page. We have thoroughly enjoyed our trip this year, revisiting very familiar waters, some not so frequently navigated and even some new. The weather has been extremely kind to us and it's hard to think of many days when winds or heavy rains prevented us moving.

Time now to fettle the boat . She is due her bottom blacked and a BSS completed next year, so time to organise that now. But first, the engine needs a service. 4750 hours on the clock now. Just about bedded in!
A fabulous summer!

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