We didn’t get going very early in Welford, it was another cold and grey day, though the weather forecast suggested it would stay dry.  We set off before lunch, but didn’t get far.  The winding hole at the end of the Welford Arm is just before the water point.  The level in our water tank was low, so we reversed back after winding – that way the tap was at the bow, so we could use the short hose.  The tap was slow, so it took a long time.  By the time the tank was full, we were ready for lunch.  We reversed back another boat length so that we weren’t hogging the water point – now we really were at the extreme end of the Arm.

We set off after lunch and met another boat at the narrowest bit of the canal and had to zig-zag between moored boats – I was pleased not to bump, but it was very close both sides.  That meant the lock was set our way though.  We were just preparing to exit the lock as another boat appeared, so I was able to hop on to the roof as Clare drove out, leaving the lock to them.

The afternoon drive was chilly in the northerly wind.  I told a hardy couple sitting in deckchairs on the towpath that I was looking forward to flaming June – tomorrow.  One of them replied “And I’ve got the fire going!”  We made good time to the top of the Foxton Locks but I realised too late that I had gone past the last available mooring spot.  I reversed back  about 20 boat lengths and through the bridge, glad to have the bow-thruster to make that an easy option.

The sun made a surprise appearance after dinner so we took ourselves out for a walk to the locks.  It wasn’t any warmer than it had been all day, but it was a little more uplifting.

Weak sun.  A low sun shines through light clouds above wooded hills.  In the foreground is red painted paddle winding gear.  A black and white painted fence lines the tow path as it descends the hill.
Weak Sunlight Over Foxton Locks

We had short explore at the bottom of the locks, and were pleased to discover that the mixed recycling accepted glass, we were starting to run out of space for ours.  We were also reminded of the scale of the engineering for the inclined plane that bypassed the locks at the beginning of the last century.

Giant wheel.  A wheel that drove the cables for the caissons on the inclined plane has been made in to an exhibit.  A woman is standing by the wheel revealing that its radius is similar to her height.
Caisson Wheel with Clare for Scale

Back on board, it was cold enough that I decided to commission the newly refilled radiator in the saloon.  I’m pleased to say that it warmed up nicely, and doesn’t seem to be leaking.

This morning was just as cold and grey as yesterday.  Clare was finishing her knitting project, so we didn’t get going early yet again.  We set off on foot again to explore the lunch options at the locks.  We’d noticed another Ortomarine boat, Felicity, moored at the top of the locks.  When we passed today, Matt and Pauline were unloading their shopping.  We introduced ourselves and stopped for a chat.

On the way back up the hill after lunch we spoke to one of the lock keepers to “book in”.  She told us that there were four boats about to come down, so we would be fifth. She told us who would be ahead of us too: Felicity.  We hurried back to our mooring and cast off immediately so we didn’t miss our slot.  We arrived behind Felicity just as the boat ahead of them was entering the top lock.

When it was our turn, the lock keeper asked if I had done the flight before.  I told him I had, and that I knew it was “red before white and I’ll be alright”.  He also pointed out that there was a boat just ahead, so I had to think about them before I did anything.  With that, he went ahead to give assistance to Felicity.

Foxton locks. The bow of a narrowboat is resting on the gates of the lock staircase at Foxton.  The lock below has a narrow bridge across it.  Under the bridge, the roof of another narrowboat can be seen.
Felicity in the Lock Ahead of Bartimaeus

The locks went very smoothly.  The paddles are not heavy to wind, and the gates move easily.  As usual there were gongoozlers wandering the flight, so I managed to get willing volunteers, often very young, to help me open and close many of the gates.  Clare’s end of the boat spent most of the time below local ground level, so though she got a few waves, she had a less interactive time.

Narrowboat in a staircase.  The narroboat is at the bottom of a lock in a staircase.  The entire boat is below ground level.  The stern is in the sloping section below the massive gates to the lock above and behind.
Clare Sitting Deep Down in the Staircase

Once the paddles of the bottom lock were open, I hurried to hand my windlass to Clare and get her to pass me the recycling bin which I’d previously filled with the glass.  “I’ll see you at the swing bridge, turn right” I said.  I could see Clare was unsure, but I was confident that was all she needed to know.  I hurried off via the recycling point to the swing bridge.  I arrived in plenty of time to open it for her, but one of my young helpers from the last lock was also there.  He wanted to help me open the bridge – so that took slightly longer than anticipated.  Clare was able to make suitable course corrections though.

After more help closing the bridge I hopped on the boat and relieved Clare at the helm for a bit.  At the next swing bridge, she took the key to open it.  I couldn’t see what was happening while I waited, but I could hear voices.  As I was driving through the opened bridge I could see my helper was there again.  Clare was clearly enjoying the interaction this time.

The rest of the trip to Market Harborough was slower than anticipated because we were following another boat.  I switched to electric and enjoyed the gentle quiet cruise.  There were no vacant moorings until we reached the private moorings in the wharf at the end.  We were lucky to spot an employee just going off duty and asked about moorings.  He explained the price and told us to pick a spot at the end and plug in if we wanted – we could settle up in the morning.  Easy!

I have been wanting to give the batteries an equalisation charge since the problems with the dry cell last month.  Unfortunately, almost as soon as I plugged in, the charger switched to “absorption” and then “float” – it was acting as if the batteries were already full despite showing a charge of 93%.  After dinner I noticed that the charger had switched to “storage”, usually a state where almost no charging happens, and that the charging rate had increased!

After more investigation, I eventually discovered how to read and write the configuration of the inverter/charger.  It had somehow set its absorption and float levels to 48v – maybe this was protection when the cell was faulty.  I changed the levels back to the defaults – to my delight the charger started behaving properly again.  I’ll be able to give the batteries that equalisation charge in the morning.