Saturday, 25 June 2011
This was the main line of the Grand Union Canal outside Braunston marina this lunchtime. Some say 110, others 120 but the consensus is that over 100 historic working boats are gathered at Braunston this weekend. The first of today's parades, when boats run en-mass from the marina to the triangular junction at Braunston Turn and back started at 11.00 but boats were still making their way back to their moorings at 16.15 - over two hours after the second parade should have started.
Things were not exactly helped when steamer President, hauling its butty Kildare, ran aground almost opposite the marina entrance.
After a considerable delay, Callisto was dispatched to rescue them. The first attempt at a snatch resulted only in a broken rope - which snapped with a crack that could be heard across the marina; but a second, gentler attempt was more successful.
Later, the Narrowboat Trust's Nuneaton, also hailing a butty - Brighton - got stemmed up on the way back from the turn and after all the crew's efforts to refloat her had come to naught, also had to be rescued by another boat.
How much these incidents contributed to the delays is unclear - and it could just be that at over a hundred boats the event has outgrown it's site. It was all good fun for us spectators, but I felt sorry for the crews of the pleasure boats held up, sometimes for hours, and even some of the working boat owners appeared to be getting fed up - and some were seen to be leaving early.