Tuesday, October 24, 2006


This is a copy of an email from GOBA.

I am sure you will have read in the press or are otherwise aware that the Government Department DEFRA is cutting grant-in-aid (money!) to both the Environment Agency and British Waterways. The reason behind this chaotic decision is the complete mess made of the single farm payment scheme (The new CAP regime to cut down on over production of food). While the rest of Europe used a payment of acreages based on local or OS maps, DEFRA with Mrs Beckett at the helm decided to remove the width of hedges and conducted vastly expensive surveys over the whole of England resulting in huge delays to the payment and a consequent fine from the EU for failing to meet the deadline. Scotland which has its own ministry paid on time and avoided a fine. Mrs Becket then of course departed with a ‘promotion’ leaving DEFRA to pass the buck on to organisations such as EA and BW who rely heavily on grant-in-aid and with subsequent major cuts to their income.

I have written to my MP but am still waiting for a response !

Monday, October 23, 2006

Abingdon Weir

We are safe at Abingdon but need to be off the Thames before the end of the month because the locks close for maintenance in November.

Yellow board

Some locks further down had the red boards up which means the navigation is closed ! A day later the levels had gone down but the flow over Abingdon weir was still considerable.

Weir 1

Weir 2

It is very noisy here and you can see the power of the water as it rushes through.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Oxford Canal & River Thames

The final 7 miles or so of the Oxford is interesting, following the contours but still with a lock every few miles going down to Oxford. Some of the bridges are quite small so we removed the chimney to avoid bending it! Passed through Thrupp with mile upon mile of private and long term moorings. First being exclusive and well kept boats then becoming much less so with many showing old licenses or none at all.


The river Cherwell is not far away and can flood at any time after rain. At Kirtlington the canal is in a deep tree lined cutting while approaching Kidlington it actually joins the river. We were thankful that it had become calm after seeing it in flood back at Cropredy and for a short mile we enjoyed following its almost hair pin bends past open hilly countryside. Eventually stopped at Kidlington for a rest.


It had rained heavily all night before we set off before breakfast heading for Abingdon. A mile or so to Dukes Cut where we turned off to on to the Thames. The waters surface seemed to be rippling with energy as we crossed over to the landing for Kings Lock. The keeper appeared eventually and after letting a narrowboat up it was our turn. I don’t remember seeing the yellow 'strong stream' advice boards here but they were at Godstow.

Under the A34

Between these two locks the river gently swings left and right through its flood plain. Once past Godstow the river heads for Oxford and becomes very restricted. Seemed calm enough under that low Osney Bridge but then a very strong flow at the weir just before the lock pulled at our boats. It turned into a serious situation and we were all shaken up by the experience. It seems that the entire river Thames is going over this narrow weir. It was the lock keepers lunch time so we had to wait for him to arrive at 2 o'clock. Giving us time to calm down before getting safely in to the lock. Once past this narrow section restricted by Oxford itself the river opened up and became calm again. Three more locks and eight miles and we arrived at Abingdon. The river here drops over a very wide weir and as we passed down the lock on to the river it became very choppy. The lock keeper advised us to moor on the town side by the park.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cropredy to Aynho and beyond

We set off on Sunday and discovered that Bob n Jane on Hobo was below the next lock so we stopped for a chat. Apparently Ivor Batchelor has moved out of Braunston. He with his Motor, Butty and wife Mell have been supplying coal and diesel for many years. Braunston will not be the same and we have missed him already.

Not far to Banbury where we caught up with Sue n Vic at the Tesco mooring. The land owned by BW has become overgrown with nettles and brambles. Got my shears out and chopped away a clearing to get the pins in and discovered an old car battery hidden in the undergrowth! Next day moved on through town past several boats, Toolies and the swing bridge. A boat was coming up the lock so we both stopped for water and watched most of the boats in Banbury pass through. When we had done the business and the girls returned from the shops we moved on down to Morrison's.


Must get on to Aynho today in order to keep up with our schedule. So we press on finding Paul and Christine waiting to help us all through several locks. It was a fine day and we actually passed Aynho wharf, waving to Ian, and stopped at the swing bridge. Ian had helped make our first boat. Set off, almost first thing to continue down the Oxford Canal for a four hour trip to Kirtlington. Getting quite tired now and wishing we could stay a while.

Friday, October 13, 2006

What a difference

Those new batteries are working well for us. A day of rain meant that we did not move and while the TV was on all afternoon, the voltage stayed high. This seems to prove that our old batteries had lost their capacity because their voltage went low. It is always best to replace all old batteries in a 'bank' because one old battery, if faulty, could act as a load to the others. Like leaving a light on all the time. The good batteries will be feeding the bad one and will loose their charge. Generally when the batteries become persistently thirsty they need replacing. As the batteries slowly get old the effect is not noticed. You just find that they need charging for longer and more often using valuable diesel.

What a record for us

Thirty four lock miles in one day! After a very wet and stormy day at Napton we set off early, just after breakfast, intent on going as far as we could. Thankfully the sun came out so we made good progress. All the way up the flight of 9 locks in less than two miles. We lost count of the number of boats coming down. Often four of them queueing at each lock. This amount of traffic meant that we had plenty of help going up. Surprised to find plenty of water at the summit which is ten miles long to the next lock going down at Claydon. The entire length needs dredging because it is slow going and the water is just brown with silt. "Some fish were jumping out to see where they were". Stopped at Fenny Compton Marina to visit the chandlery before continuing down the eight locks to Cropredy.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More Bloger meetings

While at Braunston we met Les on his boat Valerie. Been reading each others Blogs for a while now so it was good to see him at last. It is just a bit unnerving when someone you have not met yet calls out your name. So it was all aboard No Problem for an evening of chat, booze and nibbles.

Headline news

British Waterways are short of cash so have made 180 staff redundant. All because DEFRA was fined by the E. U. for mismanagement of funds. We understand that some canals may close if they are not properly maintained. Already the Caen hill flight on the Kennet & Avon is closed for 5 weeks because a gate got damaged by a boat. Thankfully BW are having a new gate made. It is now down to the boaters to respect and care for the canal system or we will loose our freedom.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Bumping through the tunnel

We set off from Norton Junction after getting a delivery from good old Tesco. The very friendly driver stopped right outside the boat. Sue n Vic set off first, in a hurry to get through that Braunston tunnel. As we approached the junction another boat joined the 'convoy' in front of us going quite slowly. So by the time we reached the tunnel No Problem was well into the darkness. We backed off from the 'slow coach' to give a reasonable gap. In the tunnel it is difficult to see where the boat is in front so Ann went up front as look out. Passed the first of three boats on a strait bit of tunnel. Then found our boat on the wrong side at a bend. The bright tunnel light on the next boat was blinding as it approached in the darkness. The boat was almost stopped and was drifting off the edge as we glanced off each others bow. Once outside and waiting at the locks Sue told us that they had hit the same boat.

We paired off to go down the wide locks and as we went down each of the 6 locks had 2 boats coming up. John had walked up to help. With all the help on a sunny Saturday it was not long before we were in Braunston.

New batteries for M 2 L

As I said our batteries were showing signs of stress, often 'low', getting thirsty and needing more charge time. Technically the specific gravity readings showed that some cells were less charged than others. My grateful thanks to Vic and John for lifting those heavy weights while I carefully did the connections.


Only problem is that they are 1/4 inch higher and the cover needs a spacer !

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Three boats to Whilton

Moore 2 Life, No Problem and Balmaha all progressed northwards along the lock free Grand Union to Whilton. Stopping on the way at Bugbrooke for a rest and to collect post. Surprisingly mild for October making for an enjoyable trip. Bit of a culture shock being back on the narrow canals with its bridge holes to aim for. Sue in front warned me, by 'walkie talkie' that a boat was approaching the blind bridge so we waited for it. As it passed we moved on through only to find yet another boat following close behind the first. Some sharp bends proved difficult to get round, must go slower, specially past rows and rows of those moored boats. There is a definite lack of variety in wild bird life but we did see one Mandarin duck today.

2 boats

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Back to the Grand Union

Got to Northampton OK and did some shopping. Then it was onwards and upwards on the Northampton Arm with its 17 locks. Just like at Foxton, this flight of narrow locks also links two wide navigation systems. The first obstacle was an abandoned boat moored on the lock landing. Being unable to secure by the lock our boat decided to swing round in the wind nearly hitting another abandoned boat on the other side! One boat at a time now so once No Problem had gone through it was our turn. Into the open lock, shut the gates behind and up we go. The top gates won't fully open because a car wheel with tyre had got in the way! A large digger is busy pulling out a lot of rubbish. The largest item so far removed was a lorry axel complete with both wheels. The next lock was opened by a crew busy dredging out dirty black mud. Having got through the lock we waited for a boat load of the black dirty mud to come by. Another digger further up was busy filling a boat with black mud and more of 'the unwanted'. The lower mile or so of this canal has not been dredged for many years, but at least they are trying to clean it up now.

We soon caught up with No Problem because they had picked up a huge carpet which jammed round the prop. 'Welcome to the ars* end of this canal. If only we could turn back now'. Much of the lower half of the canal was shallow and narrowed by reed growth. Been on the move for almost 8 hours today and done 20 locks so we rested at the top.