Saturday morning saw us leave our quiet mooring just north of Braunston and enter the madness that is the N Oxford on a Saturday in August! Somebody certainly left the doors of the asylum wide open that day! We joined a procession of boats travelling northwards, all the time passing another procession going southwards. We hadn’t gone far before all hell broke loose. We came round a bend to find all the boats in front of us had stopped. A Black Prince hire boat pulled over to allow an oncoming boat through, and had pulled over too far and run aground. He was just reversing off as we came round the bend and he just kept on reversing and reversing! In the picture we are also reversing at warp factor nine to keep out of his way.
Just after I took this photo he turned a stricken face towards us and shouted ‘How do I stop it going backwards?’ ‘Put the throttle forwards’ we cried. He did. Nothing happened, and he continued to come back at a great rate of knots. ‘You’ve lost your gearbox’, we shouted. We managed to avoid him and he put the tiller over and managed to stop by ramming the boat which was moored up to the bank behind us. The chap on that boat managed to grab the runaway’s stern rope, and I leapt off and got them to throw me the bow rope, and together we pulled him in to the bank. Meanwhile, the boat behind us, who had not offered any assistance at all, sailed on by, and another as well! It made me mad! There is nothing that riles me more than plain bad manners! I know the one in trouble was a hire boat, but it wasn’t his fault, and, well, you help someone in difficulties, don’t you. Well, at least, we do!! We made sure that he was safe and then after advising him to call the hire company, continued on our way.
When we reached Hillmorton Locks a while later, the boat that was directly in front of us apologised for going through in front of us, but he hadn’t seen what had occurred and presumed that we were all just holding a boat waiting to move off. I told him that it wasn’t him I had been cross with, but the boat that had been directly behind us, and in front of him, who just sat back and let others do the work, then jumped the queue. And it add insult to injury, he went through the left hand lock at Hillmorton in front of us and his crew member left one of the the bloody bottom gates open when it was obvious that I was standing at the top gate waiting to open the paddles to fill the lock again! Urghhhh!!!
We met loads of day boats who hadn’t a clue what they were doing, one off which rammed us, and then, when we had finally moored a little way on from Hillmorton, another managed to ram us.
We tootled off into Rugby on Sunday morning, and stopped to do a huge shop at Tesco, as the cupboards were very nearly bare, and, worst of all, we had run out of cider and chocolate!! We continued on a little way and, wonder of wonders, found an empty space at Newbold where we spent last night.
Today we have had an uneventful trip from Newbold to Hawkesbury Junction where we have moored for tonight - we may stay here tomorrow as well, we will make that decision in the morning.