Gayton (and it’s goodnight from him)

We took it easy on Thursday morning as we only had four miles or so to go to reach our final destination.  First, we had to get through the 1 ¾ mile long Blisworth tunnel that we had moored outside the previous night.  We had noticed that there are visitor mooring rings along the entire length of the towpath from Stoke Bruerne top lock to the tunnel entrance, a good few hundred yards.  In the cruising season these would be packed but we were the only boat on the entire length last night apart from one boat that had come out of Braunston marina for a couple of nights and they had moored right down at the lock to be by the pub and therefore miles from us.

Approaching Blisworth tunnel
When the tunnel was built it had 22 vertical shafts for removing debris and ensuring the tunnel line was straight.  To ensure the shafts themselves were in a straight line, a series of poles was used from one side to the other and the poles were lined up by sight.  All shafts but five were closed off when the tunnel was opened in 1805, the five remain as air shafts. 

When we went through today the tunnel was practically dry apart from two of the shafts where water was cascading down.

Into our last UK tunnel
Once through the tunnel, Karen & Buddy got off to walk the rest of the way to Gayton.  We met no boats in the tunnel and only met one other on the way on the whole journey although a couple came past when we were washing the boat at Gayton junction. 

Heron on the towpath with another boat coming out of Blisworth village towards me
At Gayton the Northampton arm heads off to the east for the short stretch and 17 locks down to the town.  We were turning down the arm but only for ¼ mile or so to the marina where we will be lifted out.

Getting ready to turn right onto the arm
Gayton junction signpost
We stopped at the entrance to the arm for water and then decided to wash the boat.  Boats on the move get very dirty very quickly especially when it's wet and muddy.  The lines get dirty and the sides get covered in rope marks however careful you are.  The roof gets filthy from our boots as we walk along it to go up and down the muddy side ladders inside the locks.

We always tackle the roof first so that meant getting everything off.  Everything will need to be off when we are ferried over the Channel anyway, so the bags of coal and a few other things went straight into the cratch.  The flowers had to go back on top as we won’t move those inside until Monday morning.  The cratch is now rather full but as we will be away until Sunday night it won’t be a problem.

The inside of the boat is beginning to look very bare and sad as Karen has packed away an awful lot of the items that were on open shelving or fragile items in cupboards like glassware.

Clearing the roof
As is our habit, Karen washed the roof with the mop (thanks Mike & Lesley) while I went behind with a sponge clearing off the bits she missed.

Karen sweeping the roof before washing it – she’s showing off our broom with its broken handle
Once we cleaned the roof and the side by the water point, we thought we may as well spin the boat around and do the other side.  The junction wasn’t busy, and it was quite an easy task to spin it around especially as there was only a gentle breeze.

Getting ready to wash the other side
As I was putting more stuff in the cratch I dropped the shears (£1 at a Cropredy charity stall) in the cut.  Out came the trusty magnet again and it wasn’t long before they were fished out.

Thursday’s fishing expedition
Of course, we had to spin the boat back around again once we had finished but again that was an easy job and we were soon on the way to the marina.

The service point was at the farthest end of the marina but fortunately just before where the crane operates.  I say fortunately as there was a training day going on; three of the guys in the yard were being trained on craning boats in and out of the water.  We were pleased to see they were using their hire boats for the practice and not a customer’s private boat.  They assured me that an experienced operator would be on duty for us on Monday morning ūüėĆ

We breasted up against another boat at the service point and had our last pump out until we return to the UK.   We explained to the yard manager that we had to leave the boat with the yard as we will be going back up to Yorkshire for my mum’s memorial celebration and returning on Sunday evening.  They said we could use their offside moorings so the boat would be secure whilst we’re away.

Our final mooring in the UK
Karen spent the rest of the afternoon inside doing more packing whilst I started removing more items like the centre lines and fenders and securing them away.  We will be back on Sunday evening and will need to be up early on Monday to move the plant pots and a few other things off the roof and secure them inside.  We will then move up to the craning area for about 9.30am.

That’s it folks – the next blog entry will be made from France - but still in English I hasten to add.


Gill Mehmet said...

Bon voyage guys! xxx

Steve Parkin said...

Good luck on your journey - Steve Parkin (NB Albert)

Neil & Karen Payne said...

Thanks Gill - have a great year xx

Neil & Karen Payne said...

Thanks Steve - enjoy your travels too

Phil - Nb Silhouette said...

Bon Voyage mes amis,how long do you plan to be in France ?
Looking forward to the updates.

Brian and Diana on NB Harnser said...

So this is the big off then, good luck and I look forward to a good read. What have you done about your diesel tank and the red diesel in it, anything?

Toby and Susan @boatbaleine said...

Thank you for saying Hi at Gayton today, great to meet you at the beginning of your very big day! We salute you and will follow your adventures. What a great thing! (And your blog is very cool too).

Neil & Karen Payne said...

Hi Phil - at least the next two years but we are avoiding firm plans

Neil & Karen Payne said...

Thanks Brian. Correct - nothing

Neil & Karen Payne said...

Thanks both. It was great to meet up with you too and to have someone share our great excitement. We have been very nervous but having had a little cruise today are now relaxing