Hotting Up

At the tail end of last year, I complained to Ortomarine that some canals, especially some bridges and locks, were not quite the right shape for Bartimaeus.  As a result we find that the paintwork gets scratched or scraped and over time patches of rust start to appear.  Ortomarine suggested a campaign to have all canal features re-engineered, but in the meantime they were able to provide us with some more paint suitable for covering the damage. The paint was waiting for us on board when we got back to the boat in March, but there have been very few days suitable for applying it in the meantime.

We had very little excuse yesterday.  We found a handy mooring with a low concrete edge a boat’s length away from a winding hole.  Clare set off with the sander.  We concluded that on previous occasions we may have been too timid with the sanding.  If any paint isn’t firmly attached, water will get in and rust will spread – it’s better to sand and paint a larger area once than have to come back again.  I started to follow with the paint, but very soon caught up, to the annoyance of both of us.  The situation was saved by my phone ringing.  By the time I’d had a short chat with my brother there was a large enough gap for me to resume painting.

With one side done, we did a quick pirouette in the marina entrance and treated the other side.  By the time we’d finished, Bartimaeus looks a little less pretty, but a lot less rusty.  The day was hotting up, but we’d been working in the shade of a tree.  We should probably repeat the undercoat, but we’ll probably hold off on the top coat until after we have had other work done next week.

Paint work.  The bow of a moored narrowboat rests against the concrete wall of the canal.The paint has irregular patches of a lighter colour where undercoat has been applied.  A duck is swimming past in the muddy-looking waters of the canal.
Paint Work “Improved” with Undercoat

By the time we were done, we were also ready for lunch.  We repeated our successful visit to the Braunston Community Cafe.  We were again greeted warmly, and this time had the day’s special – lasagne.  The change in the weather encouraged me to wash some of the mud off the steps and decks.  In the current conditions, they may stay clean for a few days.  Our mooring was shaded by a tree, but I couldn’t see any vacant moorings nearby that weren’t.  By late afternoon, we eventually got full sun on the boat.  The panels got a bit more power and we had our first meal out on deck this year.

Today I was determined to move on up the locks, but we filled up with water before we set off.  By the time we got to the bottom lock, it was already late morning.  There were two volunteer lock-keepers deep in conversation with another two people.  It sounded like local politics, but I don’t know if it was village, canal or some other variant.  I opened the gate on my side.  Although they were all standing around the other gate arm, they continued talking.  As Clare drove in (one gate is enough) one of the lock-keepers warned someone about the gate moving and then tried to hold it.  A moment later, he was lying on the ground with the gate arm swinging above him.

His friends helped him up (he didn’t seem hurt), closed the gate and then they all walked away leaving the lock to us.  A gongoozler opened and closed one of the gates when the lock was full, but otherwise we were left to operate the lock ourselves.

Braunston Bottom Lock.  View from the stern of a narrowboat rising in Braunston Bottom Lock.  There are people on either side of the lock at the head gates.  There are brick building on both sides of the lock.  Ahead the lock has trees and hedges on both sides.
Shane and Gongoozlers Operating Braunston Bottom Lock

Before we left the second lock, I looked back and saw that there was another boat coming through the lock behind us.  We decided to wait for them in the third lock.  They were pleased we’d waited and kept us company through the rest of the flight.  As it turned out there were many boats coming the other way.  For the remaining four locks in the flight there were two boats coming out of each one which made for very easy locking for us.

Once out of the top, we drove through Braunston Tunnel, meeting another boat inside, and found a sunny mooring.  After lunch we set off for a walk.  Just after the exit from the towpath we found an interesting bench, but we weren’t in need of a rest yet.

Canal bench.  A park bench made out of a block of wood which is probably a former gate arm.  A metal bow and stern and boat sides as back rests make the bench reminiscent of a narrowboat.
Park Bench in a Narrowboat Style

We followed a path that took us around Daventry Reservoir.  The path afforded very few views of the water, but gave pleasant woodland shade with lots of bird song.  We had almost completed the circuit of the water when we came to a small beach occupied mainly be geese and swans.  Almost invisible in the dappled sunshine, a family of five goslings sat on the ground between their parents.

Gees and Goslings.  Five goslings on the ground with a parent either side of them.  The goslings are a similar colour to their background.  Dappled sunshine further breaks up the colours.  The nearby reservoir reflects a blue sky.
Camouflaged Goslings with Guard Geese

We stopped at the nearby cafe for an ice cream and a smoothie before returning to Bartimaeus.  It was another still and warm evening so we again ate on deck.

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