One adventure ends, another begins. On 15 December we delivered NB Lazy Days to Hilperton where she is up for sale. On 17 December we moved into our new house in Somerset. It’s a far cry from our pre boat life in Hertfordshire, a life that we couldn’t have returned to after the canal experience.
We spent our first night in Lazy Days under the M1 Motorway waiting for the Watford Locks to open. Our last night was similarly eventful. We had remained at the Semington Moorings for the last few days, polishing and sorting and taking a couple of loads back to the storage and others to the dump. On Wednesday, the wind blew into a gale and the boat was buffeted all night. I was awake before 6.00 listening to the crashes when there was a hard bang against the boat. At first I thought that it might have been the wind blowing us against the bank. Then I wondered if the boat moored behind had banged into us. (It was a vast Dutch Barge. I had a great surprise when I went out the back hatch the previous day to find them looming over us, moored so close that their bow was overlapping our stern. Even more surprising when they had two empty mooring rings behind them! Fortunately we also had an empty ring ahead and had moved forward.)
Alan went out to check and found not one boat behind us, but two. The drifting boat that had banged into us was now against the side of the Dutch barge. As we watched it went back to the off side and towards the bridge. Alan wondered if he should go out to try to grab its ropes. I thought not because it was pitch dark and he wouldn’t be able to get near it as the opposite bank was so marshy. At 8.00 I went along to see where it had got to, along with the Dutch barge owner who only realised that anything had happened when I told him. To our surprise we found that the drifter had managed to pass under the bridge and was now moored behind NB Party Animal, owned by Leb, who had blacked our boat. To our disappointment it hadn’t managed to enter the open lock behind it (both gates left open by the lazy Dutch barge owners. Hmmm, the pound above had drained in similar circumstances the week before.) Leb was out unhappily surveying the damage to his boat. We had come off unscathed but he had scrapings all along his running strakes. Not a great disaster you would think, but Leb is very boat proud and his strakes were painted yellow to contrast with the smart blacking. The boat is called Party Animal!
Just before 10.00 when we were about to pull away a lady carrying bits of cleaning equipment came along the towpath, looking puzzled. “I can’t seem to find my boat”, she said. I told her where it was, that it had passed two other boats before it reached us and that it had banged into us on its way. “But it can’t have, it was fine last night”. I pointed out that as it started a considerable way in front of us and was now the same distance behind us and on the other side of a bridge clearly something had gone wrong. Finally she was convinced that her boat really was where I said it was and went off to be reunited with the vagrant, leaving me still waiting for any enquiry about whether damage had been done to our boat.
I walked along to see Alan through the swing bridge and he took Lazy Days on solo while I drove round to Hilperton to meet him. Then it was just a matter of mooring up and completing the paperwork and we were free to head over to Watford to start the move.
Along with the chaos of the removal of all the house contents from storage a week before Christmas we also had to go back to the boat three times to transfer the rest of our possessions. We had thought that it might be done in one trip. It’s amazing how much you can fit into a boat, especially when you think of all the books and clothes that we had already moved!
We have had a wonderful seven years with Lazy Days, half spent as liveaboards. We have travelled most of the system and had adventures that have stretched us, given us great enjoyment and kept us agile and alive! We have discovered many places that we would never have visited otherwise and we have realised how lucky we have been to be able to live as wandering waterways folk. And also how fortunate we are to be able to choose the right time to move on to something else. The pleasure of spending our days slowly travelling through our wonderful countryside was a marvellous bridge between our working lives and our new future as retired people.
I realise that many readers of this blog may have given up on us given the irregularity of postings over the past few months, but to those of you who may read this, it has been a great joy to meet so many wonderful people through the blog. You, along with the other friends for life that we have encountered on the canals, have been the icing on the cake of our boating experience.
Finally, NB Lazy Days is for sale at Hilperton Marina. She’s done us proud, given us a comfortable home and transported us around the system with total reliability. We have every confidence that she will give her next owner equal happiness.
We have a very poor internet connection at present but when we finally get around to sorting out our broadband I will put up some pictures of our highlights from the last three and half years. – Alan
Final Journey 15/12/11 2.69 Miles and 1 Swing Bridge
Statistics so far:-
3060.62 Miles, 2051 Locks, 198 Swing Bridges, 118 Lift Bridges, 58 Tunnels