Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Long Day

Fruit and veg stocks are getting low on Waiouru so today’s plan was to cruise twice the normal daily distance and make it to Banbury in two days rather than the planned three.  For the last six months breakfast has been a bowl of porridge cooked in the cheap (£20) Tesco microwave.  This morning mine didn’t cook in the usual 4 minutes.  In fact it didn’t cook on the second attempt!  Oh well; the microwave is two years old but it looks like a replacement will be needed from Tesco at Banbury.

It was a clear but cold start to the cruise with both of us well wrapped up in all our winter gear.  This is somewhat of a worry!  How are we going to cope cruising in the same gear next winter if we’re using it in Spring?  Perhaps our winter clothing isn’t quite warm enough?  Food for thought!

The first lock was Shipton Weir Lock and it has a rather unusual hexagonal (six sided) shape.  It joins the canal and the River Cherwell.  My assumption is the hexagonal shape provides greater strength which may be linked to the adjacent river.

The stretch between Shipton lock and the next lock (Baker’s Lock) is actually the River Cherwell so it’s important to check the water level gauge.

Well it’s not in the RED but is it YELLOW or GREEN?

The first thing we noticed on approaching Enslow were the large satellite dishes.  Enslow has a satellite earth station which is used to communicate with communications satellites (ET phone home!)

There are also a number of residential linear moorings either side of The Rock of Gibraltar pub.

The most recognised boat on the moorings was this one!

Love the skulls Smile

There was a reasonable space between the locks and we climbed steadily until lunch time.  Jan has been trialling and new way of getting off Waiouru.  She is stepping off at the bow before the locks which is actually making it easier for me to control the boat. Reboarding is different.  If there is no other boat at the lock I hold the stern of Waiouru in the “mouth” of the lock whilst Jan lowers the paddles and closes the gate.  The prevents the bow from wandering off and makes it easier for Jan to step aboard at the stern.

Note the hat and heavy jacket!

A few locks later and the warm hat has been discarded.

The South Oxford appears to be very shallow between Thrupp and Upper Heyford.  We didn’t want to erode the banks and eliminated the potential for ‘wash’ by completing most of this section at ‘tick-over’ speed.  We found a nice length of armco piling just short of Upper Heyford so we stopped for lunch.

It was such a nice mooring spot we’ve marked the location on our maps.

We had passed Oxfordshire Narrowboats base immediately prior to mooring and both commented on how well their boats appeared to be presented.  Boats were being washed and brass polished!

Jan really struggled with the large lower gate at Somerton Deep Lock.  The lock is one of the deepest on the canal at 12ft.  Fortunately I’m not claustrophobic!

Having managed to close the lower gate Jan then went on to struggle opening the upper paddles.  The mechanism was very stiff and she eventually adopted a strategy of moving the windlass a quarter turn at a time pressing down on the windlass with her full body weight.

Jan was glad to see the last of Someton Deep Lock.  We then met nb Cullen coming in the opposite direction.  The lady on board noticed the flag on the back of Waiouru and exclaimed “Oh Kiwi’s”.  Then we noticed the rather faded sliver fern flag flying on their tiller arm.  Damned Kiwi’s… they’re everywhere!

Prior to arriving in the UK I spent several years collating canal data into a Google Earth template.  Aynho Wharf had always interested me so I was very keen to actually see the wharf.

The canal appeared to be deeper from Upper Heyford to Anyho and we were able to increase speed to 1200rpm.  We’re in no hurry and 1200rpm gives us plenty of time to enjoy the scenery.  Today’s cruise gave the impression we were in a very isolated area with few roads, although the railway appeared to play “hide and seek” with us!  However you only have to look at the map to see how incorrect the impression is.

We’re now moored for the night on armco piling just north of Aynho.  Tomorrow we should reach Banbury around midday and get some shopping and sight-seeing done in the afternoon.


Paul (from Waterway Routes) said...

The large shape of the lock is to allow a "deep" lock full of water into the canal through a shallow lock.

If it was a normal sized lock it would only allow 0.25m of water into the canal. Otherwise, when you fill Somerton Deep Lock with 3.67m of water it would drain the pound.

Tom and Jan said...

If the canal requires water from the river why not install a sluice?

Anonymous said...

Hi guys

When mooring Banbury, moor before the town lock. So when you see the row of boats before the boatyard (Tooleys) that's where you need to be. Why? We moored past the lock and found the local dwellers had untied us and another boat at 1 in the morning. Lovely place to visit and so convenient for the shops!