Duke’s Lock

A day of delays frustrations.

When I went to start the engine I could tell that the battery was low and didn’t seem to have been charging yesterday. Also the tacho and the other instruments weren’t working. It seemed likely that one or more wires were loose behind the instrument panel. They had taken it off just before we left the boatyard to paint around it.

I took off the panel and the two wires on the volt meter were detached so I put them back, but it made no difference. I spent about 30 mins trying to sort it out, but to no avail. I was beginning to think that the alternator was at fault. The boater in the boat behind suggested that we go along to the Oxfordshire Narrowboats yard which was just a few hundred yards away. Unfortunately it was their engineer’s day off, but another knowledgeable guy there helped me go through various tests to determine that the engine battery definitely wasn’t charging. We decided to carry on and use jump leads to connect the batteries together for charging if needed.

Lots of queuing at locks today, we were fourth in the queue at several and had to wait almost an hour. We needed a pumpout so headed for Thrupp where the local club have a machine. We would need to turn the boat as the connection is on the other side. When we got there is was blowing a gale and there was another boat already waiting. The person who sells the cards wasn’t there but was due back soon. We waited on the opposite side.

While we were waiting along came a scruffy old boat boat steered by a young woman who was shouting and swearing at her crew to open the lift bridge faster as she was getting in a bit of a mess getting round the corner in the wind. Well her crew panicked and hit the ’emergency stop’ button on the bridge. This caused a delay while the bridge mechanism reset. During this delay, with much revving, and more shouting, she managed to hit our boat quite hard, but didn’t apologise or say anything. At last the bridge was raised and she was on her way. We didn’t know then, but we were to meet this boat again later in the day.

We eventually got the pumpout done, turned round again, and were on our way. With queues at most of the locks it was gone 5:30 before we got moored up. As we were coming through the last lift bridge, coming towards us were two boats. What we couldn’t see from head on was that the second one was being towed by the first. There is not much space between the lift bridge and the next bridge. We were caught in this space as the towing boat came charging through, being steered by the same young woman we had met at Thrupp! ┬áThe first boat came to a halt, but without an engine the towed boat had no means of slowing down and slammed first into a moored boat. Then bounced off and crashed into us. They eventually negotiated the bridge hole and went off with the young woman yelling and swearing as before.



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