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The Waterways Wanderings of Narrowboat “Just Heaven”

Bridge 192

Jan & Mike arrived about 10, after their satnav had completely misled them regarding the location of the marina!

With there stuff unloaded and the car parked we set off south down the canal towards Oxford. A brief stop in Banbury to top up with supplies hen off for a very pleasant cruise down to near bridge 192 about half a mile short of Somerton Deep lock.

© M.Tyres

© M.Tyres

Not much boat traffic about, though we did see a few hire boats heading back to base tomorrow.


Cropredy marina

Recently at the Cutweb rally Tony Brooks (www.tb-training.co.uk/) noted that he thought our rudder was loose. I had noticed it appeared to wobble slightly as you went from left to right. After talking it over with various people it seemed the likely problem was the two bolts holding the rudder on to the shaft had become loose. I checked the photos we took when the boat was in dry dock and could see the two main bolts, plus a third ‘tightener’.

We had planned a weekend cruise with friends Jan & Mike so I booked into the slipway at Clattercote wharf for the preceding Wednesday. I told Richard at the slipway that we would only need an hour or so as all I had to do was tighten up some bolts.

The slipway is only a few hundred yards from the marina. We arrived at about 10 o’clock. It took quite a while turn the boat around to get it the right way to go up the slipway. I had thought that we could go up stern first, but Richard advised that that wasn’t safe as the water could come in the front through the deck drain holes.

Going up!

Going up!


Out of the water

Out of the water


The rudder

The rudder

It was clear, once the boat was out of the water, that it wasnt a problem with loose bolts at all. The bush on the skeg (at the bottom of the rudder) was badly worn, so the shaft was loose and wobbling around.

This meant it wouldn’t be just a short job of tightening bolts. Richard agreed to cancel his plans for the day and help us get it fixed. First a ring round various of his contacts to see if we could get a bespoke bush made today. Luckily a small engineering firm in Braunston said they could do it.

The next problem was getting the rudder off. We had removed the two main bolts and the third tightener, but though it was loose, the rudder wouldn’t come off despite much heaving, levering and hammering. We then realised that the third bolt had sheared off and the tip was still inside.  So Richard decided that we would need to saw it off and weld a new one back on.

So after a trip to Banbury for new bolts, a hole saw and a new top bearing and then to Braunston for the new bottom bush, Richard started work cutting and welding.

It was dark by the time all the work was finished and we slipped back into the water by torchlight.


Bridge 130

For the past three days we have been at the Cutweb rally. Much chatting, drinking and eating was enjoyed by all.

With 'Jenny B' alongside

With ‘Jenny B’ alongside

Our mooring under the trees

Our mooring under the trees


At about 7:30 this morning we started untangling JH from the other boats. We had already agreed with Brian on Harnser (http://nbharnser.blogspot.co.uk/) that we would go with them at eight o’clock to share the locks up the flight.

We were all ready a bit early, Pat went ahead and set the bottom lock while Mike and Alan cast off (they were due to go before us), while they were doing this a hire boat came by and went straight into the open lock. Neil meanwhile winded and came back past us as we were extracting JH  from the inside two others to go up next. So Neil passed Mike and Alan who were sitting outside the bottom lock to share with the hire boat. The result being Neil and the hire boat went up in double quick time, followed by Mike and Alan, right behind them was Brian and myself. Even after all that we were probably in the lock about 8 am. With all crews working together and with Andrew and Dylan the dog acting as roving crew,we went up in good time on a damp and drizzly morning.

On Saturday morning a car shuttle had placed Simon’s car at Marston Doles, so they crewed with us until we reached there.

The rain mostly held off until we got to Napton top lock when there was an enormous downpour. I got soaked sheltering under the hedge holding the boat on a rope.

Soaked !

Soaked !

Blue Lias, Long Itchington

Our usual early morning start and a very pleasant run down the rest of the Napton flight. I think it must me pensioner’s week for the hire companies. All the hire boats we met had more ‘mature’ people on board. I suppose that the rates go down after the school holidays.

Buffalo in the misty morning

Buffalo in the misty morning

As we approached Calcutt locks we could see a boat already in the top lock. They called out to us and re-opened the gate to let us in. It was an oldish boat steered by a young woman who said it was her family’s boat. She was taking it to Knowle where her brother would pick it up. Her crew of two were very willing, but inexperienced! We called at Kate Boats at Stockton Top marina for a pump out (£20 !!) and for Colin to measure up JH for Karndean flooring. As we left Kate Boats I waited for a boat to pass then followed to the top lock. It wasnt until we started down the first lock, sharing with “Speedwell” that we noticed a boat following. Heddi asked if they we travelling together, in which case we would wait, but the lady on Speedwell said they had done Calcutt together, but they weren’t together. She thought the boat behind was going to meet some friends at the “Blue Lias”. Heddi and the lady on Speedwell did brilliantly down the flight coming in and out of each lock together side by side. After lock eleven we waved goodbye, winded and moored up by the pub in front of Enseabee. Shortly after Nb “Nuggler” with Mike and Pat on board arrived. It was them that we had pull out in front of! We are here now until Monday for the Cutweb Rally.

Elkington’s lock

We are on our way the the Cutweb rally at Long Itchington. As we wanted to wash the side of the boat (covered in spider’s web!) we went just outside the marine and up one lock. The water level was quite low when we moored up, but after we have done the washing and had our meal I noticed that the level had dropped much further, about 15 in lower than when we arrived. I walked down to the lock to see if someone had left a paddle up, but no. It was nearly dark now, but we decided to move up the next lock rather than risk being stuck on the bottom by the morning.

Fairport’s Cropredy Convention

The last few days we have spent at the Cropredy festival.

The highlights for us were Katzenjammer, Skinny Lister, The Proclaimers,  Paul Carrick, the Newgrass Cutters and of course Fairport themselves



Cropredy marina

After 290 miles, 192 locks, 4 canals (Oxford, Regents, Grand Union, Hertford Union) and 3 rivers (Cherwell,   Thames,  Brent) we arrived back where we started at about one o’clock.

The last 8 locks down from the summit pound were very busy. There were several other boats going our way and we met an upcoming boat at almost every lock.

The whole trip has been really great, very enjoyable and a bit different, particularly the London section.

Unpacking and cleaning the boat took us nearly two hours. Then we left for home.

Priors Hardwick Bridge

After two excellent days chugging with Uncle Mort they turned right at Napton junction to head off towards Warwick and we continued along the Oxford.

byeunclemortAfter the first three locks of the Napton flight we were in trouble – the throttle cable had broke. This is a problem with our boat. It seems to be a design fault of the ‘Morse’ control. The cable is continually being bend one way and then the other as you go from forward to reverse, so it eventually snaps. This is the fourth time in eight years. I always carry a spare.

As I went to fit the new cable it was apparent there was a problem. It didn’t seem to be long enough. The cable should be 2 metres. When I bought the last one, after the cable broke on the K&A, the guy in the chandlery said “we do a six foot one, but it’s really the same length”. It isn’t!. I had to re-route it over the exhaust pipe and across the top of the engine to get it to fit. It’s not ideal, but we’re going again. I’ll replace it as soon as I can get another 2m one.

There's not much room to work down there

There’s not much room to work down there

The wind has been a problem all day. Down at the Bruanston level it was nor too bad, but as we climbed up to to the summit it became worse, making naviagtion in a straight line very difficult.

The Napton flight was busy, we met another boat at almost every lock. But since we moored up near bridge 123 we have only had three boats go past.




Quite possibly the shortest narrowboat I have ever seen!

Quite possibly the shortest narrowboat I have ever seen!





A  nine o’clock start (late for us, early for the Beekies!) saw the two boats heading in convoy for the Buckby flight. The weather was excellent and we ascended the flight together fairly quickly. Across the summit and into Braunston tunnel. It was like Piccadilly Circus in there! I have never seen so many boats in a tunnel before. We met five coming towards us and there were two others infront going  our way. So there must have been 9 boats in the tunnel at one time.


Going up the Buckby flight

Going down the Braunston flight

Going down the Braunston flight


Descending the 6 locks on the other side was not so swift. We had to wait for the two boats ahead. The crew of one of them seemed half asleep, so progress was slow. Also we met quite a few boats coming up so there was quite a bit of waiting about. We expected Braunston to be busy and thought that finding two moorings might be difficult, but space was found just outside the marina and we moored up around three o’clock. The afternoon was spent strolling up to the shop in the village and walking up the hill to get a phone signal. Another very pleasant evening was spent on Uncle Mort

Weedon Bec

A day of two halves, the morning drizzly and wet, the afternoon and evening fine and warm.

We arrived at the bottom of the Stoke Bourne flight just before 9 o’clock. Chatting to some boaters coming down we ascertained that Uncle Mort was still up the top when they came down. In fact we caught up we Andrew & Sheila as they were going into the sixth lock. So we shared the next two. After a water top up it was into the 3057 yard long Blisworth tunnel. Heddi took a shower during the subterranean transit as she doesn’t like tunnels!

By the time we were passing Bugbrooke the sun was out and the sky clear.

Mooring for the night was on the offside at Weedon breasted up with Uncle Mort.

A pleasant evening was spent eating, drinking and nattering. For exercise and historical interest we walked to the former Royal Ordinance Depot, which was once served by it’s own canal.



(C) A. Goodland


This little chap hitched a ride for several minutes.


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