|Claydon Top Lock|
They soon explained that there was a problem at the next lock - Varney's - and that the long line of waiting - and moored - boats between the two locks meant that there was nowhere for them to go. At this stage we didn't know what the problem was, but we could see a space below the lock that was big enough for Sunshine, but not for them, so we went through on the underdstanding that we were not taking their place in the queue.
I then walked down to Varney's to find out what was wrong. A large piece of masonry had broken away from the paddle housing at the top of the lock and was stopping the bottom gate from opening fully. The same thing had happened earlier in the week apparently and, sure enough, the offending piece was on the towpath for all to see. CRT staff were on their way with a promised arrival time of 12.50, although the steerer of the first boat in the queue was running a sweepstake on their actual arrival time. (It was then 12.20).
|Waiting for Varney's Lock|
|CRT staff removing the obstruction from the top gate.|
Not that we went very far. A sticking valve aboard Sunshine had led to the water tank emptying itself into the toilet tank during the night - something which only became apparent during the wait - so we called in to Cropredy Marina to empty one tank and fill the other. Ironically, Sunshine had had a pump out only a couple of days earlier. Its crew were annoyed at having to pay for another one so soon, although in retrospect they were glad it had been empty when the water tank started to leak.
It all meant we were rather late arriving at Banbury, but we found a space at the end of the moorings in the centre of town, just past the Tiom Rolt Bridge.
That was the end of my few days afloat. In the morning I got the bus back to Rugby and a train home. Sunshine will be out for the rest of the summer - although the itinerary is uncertain - and I'm hoping for the chance for a bit more boating this year.