Having bought Bristol Fashion at Whilton Marina and in two days having only got so far as the other side of Blisworth Tunnel, I was in a hurry to reach London. That is the only possible excuse for not spending an afternoon looking around this lovely canalside village and its canal museum. That and embarrassment.
My first boat, my first tunnel and now my first lock: and I’d have to tackle it on my own. I sat in the pub in the photo above, had a bite to eat and read Going It Alone, a little book by Colin Edmondson that has great advice on boating single-handed. I read it twice. Then stepped back on board and drove up to the lock.
There’s a fair crowd of people at Stoke Bruerne on a sunny day like this and they just love to watch the boats going in and out of the locks. Today there was a party of bikers in leather jackets amongst the familes and day-trippers. I took a deep breath, tried to look as if I knew what I was doing, brought the boat to the side and stepped off. That’s when I realised I’d left the boat in forward gear.
Bristol Fashion careered off without me and I couldn’t pull hard enough on the rope to stop her. With a loud crash she hit the lock gates and stopped.
One of the bikers asked “you didn’t mean to do that did you?”
No I bloody didn’t.
Fortunately another boat (called Moon something but a lot of boats are called moon something or other) came by and we travelled the next few locks together, which was a huge confidence boost and made me feel almost competent again.
Going It Alone by Colin Edmondson
I highly recommend this boater’s guide to working a narrowboat single-handed.