Day 9: Wednesday 23rd June: Regulation and Calculation
Moored up late afternoon at Cogenhoe Lock, on the River Nene, east of Northampton.
The engine roared into life early (again) and we were in the Northampton Arm Top Lock by 0715. Breakfast was permissible after the first 13 (albeit) narrow locks and the “Northampton Lighthouse” hove into view shortly after nine o’clock. It is such a weird landmark that many years ago, overcome by curiosity, and Ken having flown over it many times when returning to RAF Wyton, we diverted our (road) route deep into Northampton to discover what it was: the Express Lift Tower used for elevator testing! It is now a Grade 2 listed building.
To regulation: when at Gayton yesterday I bought Nene keys from the Environment Agency I was cross-questioned about name, boat name, address, contact number, etc. But boat number was not embedded in my brain! This morning we came across a flurry of activity on one of the canal locks: “recovering a boat under Section 8”. My blank look elicited a further response: “an unlicensed boat”. Two BW contractors were “bow-hauling” an empty unpowered barge (by ropes) while another was guiding it with a paddle. The boat we suspected as being recovered was some eight locks higher up – a hard morning ahead!
Last night we had put away the Grand Union Nicholson Guide, dug out our Nene and Fen maps and also the notes taken during a tutorial with Sandra G; boater advice is usually sound advice, so a stop at the “Yellow Bridge” in Northampton was a good ploy: where else can you wheel a (Morriston’s) shopping trolley right to your boat?!
At Northampton our first glimpse of the river locks: a plethora of signs to read, key locks on the lock gates and the speed signs. Back to 11+ calculations. Translate 11.2 kilometres per hour into mph. That done, inevitably, Ken tried to calibrate the boat speed at his perceived 7mph with engine revs – and the car Sat Nav. We concluded that his Sat Nav expects travel at 70 mph, not 7! A further calculation being carried out earlier this evening was fuel consumption measured by depth of the diesel tank (opportunities to refuel on the Middle Level are apparently scarce but we need to be lightweight at Stanground Lock in Peterborough…)
To the visual attractions of the day: the canal descending arrow-straight for the first 13 locks, the pretty lift bridges, the dozens and dozens of dancing turquoise dragonflies zipping and skimming across the surface of the river, the small brown fish darting among the weed and the astonishingly clear water, both in the canal and on the river. Many more lily pads are visible on the river, but strangely (as yet), no princesses – or frogs! Sightings of either species will be duly reported!