Stoke Bruerne - Blisworth
Grand Union Canal
3 miles, 1 tunnel
Things didn't get started as early as planned this morning, but eventually James was prised out of his bed amid cries of 'I didn't think we were going through the tunnel til tomorrow!' ... and we could begin to get underway. The Nene is still under SSA (strong stream advice) but Blisworth at least has a shop, we thought, and we could feel like we'd made progress if we went through the tunnel. Having spoken to the man in charge, we had decided to tow the Duck using cross-straps rather than get it closed for us while we attempted to pass through breasted up. This became even more imperative when we discovered that we'd run out of diesel.
So, with the Duck closely tied to Warrior, myself and my mum on the Duck's stern, James steering Warrior, and Jim operating the tunnel light, we set off.
Just before the tunnel mouth, we were excited to be hailed by a couple of our readers. I encouraged them to comment, and do so again here! Our passage through the tunnel itself was actually quite alright. I had been a little scared as to how the Duck would cope with being towed and what would happen if we met other boats. I had some steerage with the Duck's rudder, but if we swung out at the wrong moment, all could go a bit pear-shaped. Luckily, we only met one boat, and passed them without mishap. It was, at 2813m (3076yds), the longest tunnel we'd ever encountered, although it is only the third longest tunnel in the system. Part of the tunnel was rebuilt in the 80s, and this was used to test the materials later used to build the Channel Tunnel!
We moored just beyond Blisworth, in walking distance of Gayton Junction, with a plan to leave early tomorrow, fill the Duck with diesel, and continue down the narrow locks of the Northampton Arm. Having my mum on board will make this part easier, since we can have two people to each boat. The Nene will, according to one of the lengthsmen that we happened to meet, not be open for another 48 hours at least, but if we're through the Northampton flight, at least we're postioned ready to take on the Nene as soon as it opens.
We made use of the afternoon's much appreciated sunshine by opening up the boat and drying some clothes on the roof, using a rather exciting structure created by James. My mum and I also spring cleaned inside, and went blackberry picking. Although it was nice to have the walk we didn't find many, despite having seen bushes dripping with them from the boat over the past few days!