Monday, 11 August 2008

Day Nine - It's too darn hot

Banbury – Somerton Deep Lock – a canal bank somewhere north of Oxford

16 miles, 9 locks

Oxford Canal

In which the Duck and her inhabitants press on, having covered very few miles the day before, against a very strong wind that messes about with their steering, discover the excitement of manually lifting bridges, descend some rather deep locks and coax their engine through 7 hours continual use despite overheating problems.

We had decided that we need to get close enough to Oxford today that we could comfortably arrive during the day tomorrow, as we had agreed to meet a friend there, and wanted to have a proper day with her.

So, after not quite as early a start as we would have liked, we set off. Our first lift bridge of the day was in the centre of Banbury, followed immediately by a lock. The very strong wind pushed the boat into the concrete bank, and we managed to lose not just the fender but also the loop welded to the hull that it was attached to! Oops! Normally before going through locks, we put the fenders up to avoid this but alas, it had fallen down.

The wind was really against us today and we had to work the engine quite hard to get any sort of speed up. It also made steering rather difficult, and there are lots of narrow bridge ‘oles to get through, but there are no mishaps to report. Luckily we were descending through 9 locks today, and as we did so, the wind became less and less of a problem.

The locks themselves were rather exciting – with a few 9ft deep locks, and the impressive Somerton Deep Lock, which is 12ft. It was pretty scary to see my boat right down at the bottom of it!

There were also a few manual lift bridges, which just involve a balance beam and a length of chain to pull it down. But despite having heard that they were really tough, I had no problem with them. Either all this lock-winding has built up my muscles or they’re just not that hard!

We had decided not to stop for lunch and just to have some soup whilst underway, so by the end of the day, the engine had been running continually for 7 hours. We noticed that it was starting to overheat, despite the water cooling system seeming to be working fine. So without further ado, we moored up at the next available place. Unfortunately the bit of bank we moored up to was rather mushy and overgrown, but we got a few pins in, and we’re quite happy, although there is no internet signal to speak of sadly, hence the overdue post.

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