Waiting at Weedon
There’s been a hiccup in the Cleddau Final Leg Cruise. Three days out from Milton Keynes the domestic alternator failed.
Moored peacefully last Sunday evening near Stowe Hill the readings were worryingly low. “How could the batteries be charged to 94.3% this morning – and after four hours cruising be lower, at only 94%…” pondered the Captain.
When percentage numbers seem high what was there to worry about?
“The ‘fridge! The freezer! We need to get onto mains power before the batteries die completely. “
There were phone calls of course (to nearby marinas, to engineers and to suppliers, too many to detail here). By happy chance in Weedon Bec there is a small boatyard. A figure was sitting in an armchair in a cabin, just feet from the wet dock. Arm wavings attracted his attention: this was Jim, who in the intervening days has supplied water, electric hook-up, alternator health check (a terminal case: “it’s been cooked”) engineer mentor, mechanic, facilitator… And thus it was that between Sunday evening and Friday lunch-time Stats since last post would have read 0.53 miles, 0 locks.
But then (Thursday afternoon) a Beta Marine alternator was delivered to Weedon Bec and fitted by Jim, and (on Friday morning) electrician Simon made the installation.
Some years ago, in Godmanchester, a perceptive lady made a thoughtful pronouncement. A package of engine parts had been delivered. “Ah, boat,” she said. “B.O.A.T. Bring Out Another Thousand.” The sad demise of Cleddau’s Balmar alternator has brought that incident back to mind. …!
When stranded somewhere unexpected (Weedon Bec in this instance) look on the bright side: Jim, of Oakcraft Narrowboats , unearthed a beautifully produced local booklet from his van. Its map revealed the whereabouts of the Weedon Military Ordnance Depot. It was constructed over two hundred years ago in the era of the Napoleonic Wars when invasion from Europe was a real threat. In such an event George III and family would have retreated to here in rural Northamptonshire. From the Grand Union Canal a spur led under the railway line to the East Lodge and under the portcullis to the magazines where vast amounts of small arms and ammunition were stored. The canal line between the East and the West Lodges is still very apparent.
Cleddau was finally away from Weedon on Friday afternoon. For several miles the route streams noisily between the M1 motorway on one side and the West Coast railway line on the other. On a sunlit Autumn afternoon trees and waterway were lit by a golden glow. Almost invisible was the still figure of a gentleman vagabond near Bridge 22.
Then came Buckby Locks – seven tough heavy chambers to be worked up to Norton Junction. Since these locks will be closed for repair work from November 2nd for six weeks it’s a relief to have passed through them now.
Norton Junction – turn right for Market Harborough, Leicester and Loughborough; turn left for Braunston and passage to the Midlands and the northwest. The neighbours are quiet tonight – and there has been a glorious sunset.
With time to make up on this stop /start leg will the Captain be demanding early Reveilles and late Last Posts…?
Tomorrow: through Braunston and towards Hillmorton.
Stats since last post: 5¾ miles, 7 locks
Monkton Moments* to date: 21
(Monkton Moment*- a reference to / recognition of Cleddau’s Pembrokeshire connections)