#44 Grand Union Canal – East (& North). November 2016

Tuesday 1st November 2016      Today we the merry crew of three (& eight feet) (4 feet & 4 paws to be moor exact) & our trusty steed nb:Black Bart have swam from the ripples of the Oxford Canal into those of the Grand Union Canal. For the moor Canal-wise knowledgable of our bloggets out there you are fully justified to be ‘shouting at the screen’ as you read this. Yes. You are correct. No. Cap’n Bart has not lost one’s marbles. Not completely anyway. Map reading skills have not been lost down the drain, so to speak. We have been enjoying the watery world of Both the Oxford & Grand Union Canals for a few days now as both share the same ‘path’. They mingle, twisting & twirling together all the way from Napton Junction (at Wigrams Turn) & Braunston Junction. And (surprise surprise) all the way back again. Today we are now ONLY in the waters of the Grand Union Canal having left that very enjoyable (& unusual) mix. Bart swims through Braunston Junction, turning right/East, slows (even moor) to a stop & reverses past the junction to gain access to l’aqua facilita’e. Slow flow (not uncommon) does not bover our crew or Cap’n Bart. L’aqua Full, Bart commands forward propulsion. “Engage”… Our craft moves (glides sum might suggest) in an easterly direction for a mere short few minutes. Soonest the lines are secured via the very handily places mooring rings. Lovely job. Well Done Crew !! Nicely done.

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Wednesday 2nd November      We is waking up to …………. Braunston. Yes. The Lovely Braunston. We is not ‘up to much’ really. Walked up from t’ canal int’ the village. acquisitioning of a few provisions from t’ local store is successful. Additions are made to our plunder during a brief sortie int’ butchers. A vast array of fine produce there be to chose from. We is not int’ spending a fortune this day so just a small selection of goodies is acquired. Back to Bart & we are making our way, swimming the wide(ish) waters (all relative me old muckers) to Braunston Bottom Lock. Have to hike up this lot alone. Up we go. Our luck’s in. A locking narrowboat ahead is very kindly waiting for nb:Black Bart & crew. Makes tings easier & wastes less water. We share the remainder of the flight. That be an’udder five big wide chambers. The total lift being 35′ 6″ (toes ??) (your turn). We let our lock companions lead the way as they be on a schedule. We ain’t.

Bart follows into the darkness of Braunston (no surprise there then) Tunnel. All 2042 yards of the amazingly wibberly wobberly black hole that this one be. Yes it is. If you haven’t, you don’t know what you are missing. Safely through, without any unpleasantness, Bart swims the last few furlongs of this glorious watery worldly day.

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Norton Junction soon (not really) allows a sharply turn (tack for those that know & appreciate) to the North.


We look back & wave goodbye to the Grand Union’s Main line wateriness as Bart chugs into ripples of the Leicester Section of the Grand Union. These waters being laid claim to Cap’n GJ Leicester. Just cause (by shear coincidence) their names be similar. We sneak into a perfectly sized berth. Just for a while we thinks. See what tomorrow brings. Eh !!

Thursday 3rd November      This day is a day for locking. What moor locking ??  Surely knot. (Did you like that ?? ) (Clever) (fairly clever anyway).

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Bart & crew continue our newly directional swim. Brief delays to collect wood spied by Skip add to the roof’s stock. I smell a bowsaw coming. Or maybe the Big brute will be let out to play. Soon, mayhaps. Watford Locks is there be-fore us. Reaching up into the skies above.

Two narrow locks leap Bart into the staircase of four moor,

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after the tightly awkward swing to starboard. Safely through with assistance from CRT lock-keeper we are quickly climbing the last singular & there you have it. Top pound we are here again. Haven’t seen you for a while old friend. That be seven chambers floating Bart in the ascendancy by 52′ 6″ (toes ??) (OK. that’a aboat 262 & a half toes) (Skip thinks). And in only an ‘er. Not Bad. Very Good actually. Moor wood is hunted for & selected for roof stock. Then we is off again. Not far though. Berthed we is be for a while of darkness at least. Not dark yet though so the smaller woodly bits are de-roofed &


Mr. B. Saw makes light work of that lot. BIG chunks need to wait for the ‘monster’ to come out and play. But that is for an’udder day.

Friday 4th November      For today shall be Big Wood day. Bart’s roof is cleared

(of just the wood, of course) & Mr. C. Saw (seesaw) (titter titter) starts to earn his keep. One ‘er later & FAB !!!  Now Mr. H. Axe needs to get chopping & a splitting. Next it be scrubbing time with that favourite stiff hand brush of Skip’s. The green slim along the recently changing waterline is being cleaned back to below the current water level. 70’ duth seem like an awfully long way when you is just starting at one end. A fair old time passes as scrubber creep’s one’s way along. Eventually, the stern is comfortably behind & the fore becom-eth very close. After a wash-doan Skippet starts swishing that magical brushing arm


& Bart’s hull, starboard side

is looking good again.

This ‘season’s wounds’

(scuffs is what they is) are ‘healed’

All Looking Absolutely Fabulous again.


Saturday 5th November      Shall we go hunting for ballast today ??  What ?? Moor ??   Yes. That be what we shall do. Wardrobe (Yes. We ‘ave one of those) is emptied, drawers removed & access to hidden floor is gained. Now starts the painfully slow process of drilling & cutting through the 1&1/4″ thick oak floor boards (port side) without completely wrecking them. Cannee make the hole through to the concrete below as big as would have liked, due to udder surrounding bits & bobs. The aromatic ‘black tank’ (don’t ask) & associated pipework is right here, to the side, back & above our access aperture into the abyss below.

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This tittle job takes all day, until late evening. Skip were very close to giving up this time. First slab took some time to break-up as couldn’t get to the side of it to jam summit below, which has proved a handy trick in udder recent excavations. Now, the central slab does not want to move across to the breaking-up/removal aperture. It does gradually creep it’s way mm-by-mm. A reasonable amoant of cussing is heard by Skippet during this ‘painful’ period. Giving up were a very nearly thing-um-y jib. The slab seemed to be getting jammed. Even moving the freezer & washing machine (Yes. Those too) (two) and drilling ‘levering’ holes through the floor on starboard side is not being as effective as expected. Hoped. Jammed it were. Much time involving Encouragement & Persistence Finally  ‘Win-The-Day’. Repeat. Repeat. Starboard side concrete slab moves well at first & then jams in the same place. Dunno why, but it certainly does. Sum-how. Not sure how. It final starts to move. Creep again, towards port. Sum-tym later the troublesome third has also, finally been relieved of it’s duties. Ballasting duties. Sorry ‘mate’ not required any moor. Not roand ‘ere. Cheers for all you have done. Time for rest now. That’s you three & Skip. Knackered. That was a bit on the side of ridiculous. Far too troublesome that bunch !!

Sunday 6th November      Shall we go for a cruise ??  Yes. Time to swim the furlongs & in time, approach & glide through the 1528 dark yards of Crick Tunnel. A Most (or was that moist ??) delightful of gloomy long hole’s to enjoy. Back (forward to be moor exact) into the light & Bart pull’s over for a much needed drink. It now be showering on us from above (which be where it usually cometh down from). Then is be moor than just a shower. Blooming heavy rain & very cold with it. Bart moves off to find a proper berth for the night. By the time we is safely secured using Bart’s lines, our handies & tittle mitts be red & communication from head to (finger) tips is not being particularly effective. We is struggling. Sort out the usuals & back in the warm as quickly as is sensibly possible to thaw out those numb extremities. Bitterly Cold. That’s What Terry would say. Bitterly Cold.

Monday 7th November      Moist it is less so today. Not even as windy as were ‘threatened’. Skip is doing that green-de-slimming ting. Port side today. Positioning to reach down along the water line not be easy. Towpath is high. For Bart it is. One knee on gunnel & tuther on towpath, with a foot gap between. A wee bit awkward !!  Time slowly marches on. Green slime on Bart slowly disappears to below the water, sluggishly, from stern to bow. A few knee rests required break the progress. Just a tittle. Walking a bit funny now. Moor funny than ‘normal’ any-hows. Moor rest & recovery be the name of the day. The evening to be slightly moor exact.


Tuesday 8th November      Today we is up & ready early. Relatively. Lister is awake. Old-Prop is ready. Breakfast is served. Family usual ‘stuff’ in this World. Not all of Bart World is full of the weird & the Wonderful. & a Nice Cup of Hot Tea. Lovely. Ready. Go. A pleasant, calm, if slightly grey day.


Within the ‘er nb:Black Bart is spying a familiar sight on the horizon.

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Yelvertoft Marina. Our Black Bart has been calling this watery ‘land’

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‘home’ for over four years now. We is back. Winter must nearly be here. Tis coming soon.


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