Captains Blog - Stockton Locks

Today was a very early start. After staying up past midnight playing a new variation on trivial pursuit (that involves betting on whether your opponent will get the answer right or wrong) and discussing how early a start we had, 7:02am was a struggle to say the least!! Dave was dispatched to purchase papers, bread and milk (still no sign of a pork pie) and the rest of the crew busied themselves with trying to get out of bed and open up the boat to get some much needed fresh air. I partook of a bowl of cereal and a coffee (feeling a bit "unsettled" this morning) & got us ready to cast off.

We cast off in glorious sunshine but with a chilly wind and headed off towards our first big challenge, Stockton Locks. In the past the mist locks we have encountered were 11 at Atherstone so we all felt a little trepidation towards the task in hand. We past very little traffic as we turned on to the Grand Union proper and were concerned by the eerie calm. As we approached the locks we joined another boat, Greenlands of Braunston and descended the double locks together. Our able crew of 4 joined their more than able team of 6 and short work was made of the first drop. A few "interesting" moments involving on coming boats aside the locks were worked well and efficiently. We parted company with our new friends half way down as they were stopping for libations and light ales so we motored on alone.

At the next set we encountered our first staircase lock. We also had decided on a role change. Myself and Ben left the comfort of the helm and tooled up with our trusty windlasses whilst Matt and Dave took charge of safe navigation. At the staircase lock instructions were posted about emptying the bottom lock before descent so as not to flood the canal. Ben and I coped admirably for the next few gates. A quiet lunch was had & discussions of the everyday world were had. After lunch five more locks awaited us. We had help and assistance from a few well informed gongoozlers & even managed to get a 2 year old boy to shout the phrase "MIND THE PAINT" at Dave as he exited.

Pushing on towards our planned over night stop over spot we were buzzed by a spitfire! It was a marvellous sight to behold such an aircraft at near chimney top height!

We entered the outskirts of Leamington and encountered a very slow moving boat. As its pilot instructed us to pass on coming traffic held us back (typical, you hardly see another boat all day then they all paper at once!). Once passed we powered on to our spot out side the Moorings in Leamington, where we tied up, tidied up & went for dinner.

To say there is some apprehension about the challenge of Hatton Flight tomorrow would be an understatement!!!


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