We moved the boat a tiny distance yesterday morning. On an explore the night before we had discovered that we were moored near a marina entrance with a footbridge over it. We also identified an excellent mooring spot just the other side of it. So before taking the tandem off the boat, we moved past the bridge.
So at the start of the day, the batteries were lower than I’d have liked, and since we don’t seem to be getting as much solar charging as I’d like either, that was another reason to drive on. After about a mile we reached Norton Junction and joined the Grand Union Canal Mainline. A right turn here would take us to Braunston which we visited by bike yesterday. Instead we turned left towards London.
Soon after the junction are the Buckby Locks. Clare had not been looking forward to these, anticipating hard work and a lot of walking round. I had confidently predicted that we would probably catch up with another boat and work through together. I was even prepared to wait if we found ourselves at the locks on our own. As we approached, I could see that there was a boat in the lock already. And it was going our way. And they were waving us in to join them. And opening the gate for us! We hurried as much as we could past moored boats (i.e. not at all) and joined them in the lock.
There are seven locks at comfortable walking distances apart. We worked through the whole flight with our new companions. They were both very friendly which made it very pleasant. Only one of the locks was open and ready for us as we approached, we usually had to wait for the boats in front of us to exit, and often for a boat coming the other way as well. By the end of the flight we were ready for lunch. Our companions pressed on – they were moving somebody else’s boat and were trying to cover the miles. We moored for lunch and were soon passed by the boat behind us – I’d noticed they had a large, young and lively crew.
Now that we are on the Grand Union Mainline it is noticeable that the navigation is intended for wider boats. The boats we saw on the side seem to be in a wider variety of sizes and shapes too.
I was taken by a large mobile crane at the canal side too. Judging from the marks on the field, it is still in occasional use. It must drive forward on its caterpillar tracks, lift a boat and then drive back to rest it on sleepers in the field.
We moored up in Weedon Bec in the late afternoon. The sun was still quite strong, but I noticed we were not even breaking even on our domestic power requirements. However, a fellow Ortomariner had replied to my enquiries. He said that they had had disappointing solar power too, but that he had cleaned (not just rinsed) his solar panels and doubled the power. I promptly got on the roof with a bucket and cloth – and doubled our power!
I hope this might be the resolution we were looking for. On sunny days it is an easy enough job to clean the panels, and it only takes a few minutes. It might mean we can get closer to breaking even on domestic power in the brighter months – or perhaps be able to leave the fridge on when the boat is unattended for a week or two.