Wednesday night I spent at Fenny. I arrived mid afternoon expecting to get water only to find a hire boat moored on the water point (they had, as I later found out, set off for the village and then tried to get a bus to Daventry [fortunately the bus only goes on Thursday]). They are not to be blamed, they swear they were not told. It was lunch time Thursday before I set off to Marston Doles.
The moorings at MD were all full including the water point. Rather than moor on the lock landing I elected to drop down the first lock and moor down there. This was a good choice because a Viking Narrowboat followed me to the lock. As it would be dark by the time I had exited the lock I suggested they should moor on the lock landing that I had left free. Friday I was up at the crack of a sparrows fart and on my way just after 8 am. I got to the next lock and could see a boat moored along away on the down side. They knew I was there, they kept looking in my direction. They waited until I had closed the bottom gates behind me, then rushed to cast off before I got to them. Their only saving grace was that after the first two Napton locks, prompted by me, they started lifting a paddle to fill the locks for me.
I was a bit perturbed that they didn’t lift the second to last one until I noticed someone was on their way in. Well I just knew this was going to end as a disaster! The elderly boater (probably my age) who looked to all intents and purposes to be well experienced tried to get in the lock with is fenders down. Yeah you’ve guessed it. He got firmly stuck. I suggested he should reverse.
“I am in reverse,” he said.
“Give it some power,” I said, which he did for about one second.
“No,” says I, “Give it all you have and wiggle the tiller back and fourth.”
Well I might as well have spoken in Arabic.
“Are you new to this?”
“To this bit of the canal, yes.”
”Well you can’t go in the locks with fenders down and if you get stuck go back as hard as you can.” I then suggested he try again and I went to the top gate and opened a paddle, so flushing him out. He then proceed to do the gunnel two step and lift the fenders, but not all of them. He left the two pipes (amidships) down.
While he was faffing around I could have filled the lock and dropped down and been away, but no being a conscientious boater I waited and I waited and I waited. Once sorted he came back into the lock and tied up the boat on a bollard. I did suggest that if he rested the bow on the cill and left the engine in tick-over he wouldn’t need to tie the boat to a bollard which was a waste of time anyway. I was beginning to get a little bit testy, when, as he was exiting the lock his engine cut out. OH JOY!!! We were in the very short pound there was a boat just come out of the lock above and another filling the lock to come down. There are moorings in that pound for two boats and a fourth boat was about to enter the pound.
“Do you have fuel in the tank?”
”I’m not sure. I think so!”
It was at this point I stopped conversing with him and took my boat into the lock. I said to the hire boater who was behind me (who coincidently had spent Wednesday afternoon on the water point at Fenny), “Can you give him a hand to moor up he’s run out of fuel.”
I carried on down the flight and left ’stuck boater’ to it.
I moored up went to get milk and came back for breakfast. Over two and a half hours I spent on that flight I was not best pleased.