Sunday 15th February 2009
A relaxed start today, as we were waiting for the ice to melt a bit more, and to see if anyone would make the first move up the Leicester Section. As we pottered around the boat we heard an engine revving, and the sound of crunching ice: a BW boat had started charging up the cut. Excellent. David and I walked a short distance up the canal to check that it had got through OK, and to see how bad the ice was.
The floes were about 3/4" thick and still fairly big, but we'd now be able to get along the cleared channel. First stop, though, was at Hadar, not far away, to buy some coal. We intended to come alongside, but Jo asked us to pull in in front, as she doesn't pass bags from boat to boat. In the event, we couldn't get in to the bank on account of the ice, so Jo handed over a bag from Hadar's bow to our stern. While this was going on another boat overtook us. Good. More ice clearance!
We soon reached Watford Locks and were quickly up the flight, made interesting by the staircase of four locks with their red and white paddle gear housings. I first encountered these locks in the early 1980s on Savoy Hill, and I remembered the saying, "Red before White and you're all right; White before Red and you're dead". You have to get the right red and white paddles, though.
On the summit pound we came to NB Derwent 6 and Al waving in the window. We pulled up, said a quick hello, and said we'd talk at more length when we'd had lunch, which David had just prepared. I was glad I had a complete cake with me: after lunch we took it round and were pleased to be invited on board for a cup of tea. Del and Al were just great, and were actually rather pleased to see us: we were only the second boat to have passed since Derwent 6 became ice-bound 17 days previously! (The first boat was the one which overtook us as we were getting coal.) They apologised for the lack of alcohol, but tea was perfect for the early afternoon.
We were privileged to be given a tour of Derwent 6 - what a lovely boat. I can vouch for the comfort of the red leather sofa! We reciprocated by showing Del and Al round Shadow: a bit of a tip in comparison (well, there were four of us including two children!)
After that excitement we moved on, passing through Crick Tunnel to Crick, tying up opposite the marina at about 1630.
Fergus steering through Crick Tunnel
Three of us then went for a walk round the village, Florence preferring to stay on board listening to her ipod.
the parish church of St. Margaret of Antioch, Crick
a street in Crick
Back at the boat David put up the aerial so Fergus could watch the football on television; then it was time for this cruise's traditional Pasta Baake.
The evening was rounded off with another David tradition: Monopoly, which David always seems to win. Here he's raking in more money, having hotels on every property between The Angel, Islington and Vine Street. This game didn't go on much longer!