Sofa Surfing

Yesterday’s cruise to the end of the Northampton Arm was uneventful.  We saw no other boats but we did see a large amount of dried up reeds that had floated down stream (or perhaps down wind) and accumulated in carpets around lock gates.  I had to work a little harder than usual pushing some of the gates because I was crushing reeds while I was opening them.

We hadn’t planned to proceed on to the River Nene just now.  We would need to buy a licence and it doesn’t fit with our cruising plans for later in the year.  We also knew that we would be met by the “red boards” because the river is in flood. So instead of entering the lock down on to the river, we turned back.

Red board.  A red sign is prominently displayed at the side of an empty canal lock.  The grass at the side of the lock is neatly trimmed.
Strong Stream Advice: Do not Attempt to Navigate

Clare executed a smooth winding just outside the lock.  The manoeuvre would have been easier without the dead reeds clogging up the bow thruster, but she managed admirably.  We moored up on the empty canal side picking the rings we happened to arrive at.  The only company we had was a group of geese haughtily hissing at us invading their patch.

Three geese.  A group of geese are occupying a brick towpath with stone edging at the side of a canal.  The geese are all slightly different colourings.  One with an orange feet and beak is staring directly at the camera.
Three Geese with Proprietary Attitudes

Our walk in to town took us a little further along the river.  As we crossed a bridge we could see the first of the river locks.  This also had red boards up and a red flag for good measure.  Apparently on the Nene flood conditions can result in some locks being run “backwards” to discharge flood water, making navigation not just inadvisable, but almost impossible.  We get the hint!

Red flag.  The entrance to the lock channel from the main flow of the river is marked by a large arrow and a red sign.  Next to them is a flagpole with a red flag flying. The lock island is covered in trees and shrubs.  A pedestrian bridge crosses both parts of the river beyond the lock.
Red Flag Means Moor Up and Wait for Assistance

When we got back to Bartimaeus in the afternoon another boat had arrived and moored up in front of us.  I noticed that between the two of us we were occupying enough rings to allow three boats to moor.  I considered moving back, but decided not to bother.

This morning we noticed some volunteer litter pickers struggling to find any litter on the almost pristine and windswept towpath.  A short while later there was a knock.  The man from the other boat asked if it was alright for him to walk around our gunwale in order to bring a sofa to the canal end.  The volunteers who were cleaning up the canal had found it floating and wanted to fish it out.  We happily agreed and then fell in to conversation.  They plan to leave tomorrow when the wind had died down a bit.  In the course of the conversation I mentioned that we were using the rings inefficiently, but we agreed it all seemed pretty quiet.

Sofa surfing.  A man is using a boat hook to pull a sofa which is floating in the canal.  He is in the space between two moored boats having walked  around the gunwale of the first and about to go around the second.
Sofa Surfing?

The volunteer canal cleaners numbers had now swelled to more than a dozen, and they were enthusiastically removing reeds as well as the now dismembered sofa (it was built of materials that could not stand a soaking).  By the time they’d finished the canal was much clearer.

I decided to try out the town’s electric scooter scheme, partly out of curiosity, but also hoping it might be an option for Clare to cover medium distances without straining her leg.  I used it to check if the recycling facility marked on my map was any use to us.  That bit of the mission was a failure, but I enjoyed the experience anyway.  Clare hasn’t been tempted to give it a try.

We went in to town again (on foot) looking for lunch and a museum to shelter us from the gusty wind.  When we got back to the boat we were surprised to find that there were now four boats here.  We guess our neighbours moved us back a couple of rings and moved their boat too, allowing the third boat to moor.  The fourth boat is behind us, sharing one of our rings.  They’ve put a mooring spike in to a tiny patch of grass at the other end of their boat.  The previously deserted mooring now seems pretty full.

Just before sunset, yet another boat came by.  I saw that they had tied to the lock bollards and presumed they were just going to stay there.  A few minutes later I realised they were going through the lock.  I hope they knew what they were doing.  I expect they will have had to moor up on the side of the river above the lock.

WordPress Cookie Notice by Real Cookie Banner