Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hungerford To Kintbury

3.13 miles, 3 hours 13 mins, 4 locks, 2.21 lm/hr

This morning it was tipping it down, had been all night! We both woke fairly early for us and so John was able to get to the 8.00 service at church in Hungerford, just by the swing bridge mentioned yesterday.

After lunch the rain eased off so we decided to see how far we could get before it started again. The water was pouring over the top of Hungerford lock gates, but we got in the lock OK.

The lady moored below on the permanent moorings helped. She was very worried about the level of water as her boat was almost to the level of the pontoon. She then went back to her boat to phone BW.

There was a woman from the Town council taking photos of the volume of water. Apparently they are in dispute with BW about the water levels and she wanted evidence.

We continued down to the Elsan, rubbish and water point just below the next bridge. We did not water up as we know that the tap here is very very slow, but did all the other necessary!

There was definitely a lot of water in the canal and when we got to the next lock, Dunmill (or Dun Mill depending on who you believe!) it was again pouring over the top gates. We went in, closed the gates and opened the bottom paddles. The boat went down and then it stopped half way.

There was so much water coming in it was just replacing the water that was going out. So what to do now? We were stuck in the lock and no amount of bouncing the bottom gates helped!

John then had a thought, got the boat hook and went to the top weir to start clearing the rubbish.

I checked the outlet below the lock and there were only a few bubbles. Somewhere it was blocked. As John cleared as much as he could Nb Barling and Nb Saxon arrived on the lock landing.

The 2 men came to help. Nb Barling was from the Oxford (single handing) and Nb Saxon from Northampton and both were returning.

Finally the guy from Nb Barling rang BW and told them the situation. The said they would ring back. They did – the call out crew was at Newbury but would be with us in about an hour. So John continued clearing. Even between the bottom gates where he found this!

After about another three quarters of an hour the 3 men managed to open the gate. Guess what, BW arrived at the same time! They continued to clear the weir, which was flowing much better thanks to John’s efforts. We were in that lock about 1 hour and 20 minutes, but it seemed much longer!

The next lock, Weir Lock (76) was a repeat, although BW had beaten us to it and were just finishing clearing the weir.

The lock sides were under water when we arrived, but at least we were able to lock through with John and the 2 guys from Barling and Saxon using all their strength to open the bottom gate.

One more lock to go, also flooding over the top gates but easier to use. We arrived at Kintbury hoping that there was a mooring as we were both exhausted and ready for food and a rest!

Yes, one mooring slot big enough for Epiphany and another short boat – Nb Saxon took that, whilst Nb Barling continued on alone.

What a day – a bit of an adventure! That is what boating is all about, finding the unexpected, not stressing about problems, looking for solutions, being patient and having a laugh and sharing with other boaters. We certainly enjoyed the company of the single hander from Nb Barling and the husband from Nb Saxon!

PS - our Vodafone USB modem is working a treat! We have 3G+ tonight and yesterday it was 3G. It makes blogging a pleasure and tonight it is very fast so there are a number of photos! An added refinement is John has set up internet sharing so we can both be on line at the same time.

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