Captain’s log

Card tricks and computers in the morning
Card tricks and computers in the morning

6:30am Woke to sounds of crew member checking to see if I was awake and so could authorise the playing of computer games – a start to the day that is more Captain Kirk than Captain Cook.

7:00am Hot showers and cold milk – that’s the civilised way to start your day on the water.

8:00am Crew casts off with well-practised ease. Full steam ahead.

8:30am We navigate through an incredibly twisted section of canal. Every turn followed immediately by another. Continual sighs of relief that we don’t meet any traffic coming the other way. Declan is appointed first mate for his work on the boat’s horn.


Swans invading
Swans invading

8:45am Canal blocked by fleet of duck pirates clearly trying to coerce more bread from us. Remembered Nelson’s words and steamed on in spite of the beaks. Cowardly blighters just fled to the banks.

9:00am Met some on-coming traffic. He turned to the wrong side (must be a Frenchie). Emergency manoeuvres left us momentarily aground. Other captain suitably contrite so was magnanimous and did not go down the “bloody idiot” route.

9:30am Slid under bridge 107 and found a turning-point. Managed the turn with far less trouble than anticipated, partly because it was a quiet spot with no audience. Felt good to be motoring back the other way.

Morning tea
Morning tea

10:00am Moored up for morning tea (fresh coffee and apple cake). Met owner of another boat who has been living on the canals for the last eight years, slowly moving from music festival to music festival. Decided this may not be the stuff that made England a great sea-faring nation; but looks like a nice way to live.

10:30am Watched a falcon hovering over the fields in search of lunch.

10:32am Watched the falcon chased off by a much smaller bird. Set off again.

11:30am Navigated the twisty section of canal without any trouble. Moored for lunch about 20 feet away from where we started the day. Managed to moor without, for the first time, even bumping Grendal against the side. Cheese and salami sandwiches for lunch.

1:00pm Said hello to a local who’d come down for a quick drink on the opposite bank. She just stared back with big brown eyes. Moo.

1:30pm Set sail once again. Successfully navigated through several narrows and past a sunken narrow-boat. Feeling pretty good about helmsmanship.

2:00pm Got to Braunston and neatly slipped though the bridge there and back on to the Oxford Canal. Stopped to fill up with water from a watering point. Continue to be amazed at how much water we seem to go through in a day.

Those bridges are lower than they look...
Those bridges are lower than they look…

2:15pm Hit first bridge we came to with an ugly scraping sound. May have got a bit over-confident about helmsmanship. Consoled myself with the words of wisdom from our friend from last night: “They’re made of steel and at 2 miles and hour, there’s really not a lot of damage you can do to them.”

3:00pm Moored for the night North-west of Braunston on a quiet stretch of canal with fields on both sides.

3:15pm Whole crew played 500. Decided spot we’d moored was a little exposed to the wind. Because they have no keel, narrow-boats move amazingly in the breeze. Dragged boat along the bank a little way and moored again. Once the boat is moving it’s very easy to move – gave us some insight into what it was like in the old days before motors.

5:00pm Shore party set off to walk to Braunston. Lovely walk along the canal and through fields. Great pub meal and some more cheese and skittles in the pub.

7:45pm Stroll back from the pub with the sun gently lowering.

8:15pm Said goodnight to the ducks and sent crew to bed.

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