Day 16 (22nd Sep 2013) – Foxton to Crick:

Day 16 out of 32, halfway through the daze. Today provided some of the best weather of the trip so far, clear blue skies and sunshine. Will departed overnight and was replaced with the latest member of the Parke family, Will and Patrick’s Sister Louise. The threesome of Justin, Stevo and Louise set off on a long 18 mile day with no locks and one tunnel.

The paddle was pretty and uneventful up to the Bosworth tunnel, where the kayakers dismounted to load the boats onto the roof of ‘Merlot’. The Bosworth tunnel has a couple of kinks in it so that you can’t see the light at the end. With the kayaks loaded the gallant party entered the maw of the tunnel. Some way in and there was a loud scraping and crashing sound from the back followed by swearing. One of the kayaks had caught on the tunnel roof and slid suddenly back towards Stuart’s head. Luckily it stopped a couple of centimetres from Stuart’s face. Once through the tunnel the trio resumed paddling and had a last chance encounter with the lads with the two ‘plastic’ boats as they passed the other way through a canal junction. A lady on a nearby narrowboat commented, “did you see those two boats, didn’t slow down at all when they came through”. Those boys make friends wherever they go…

The Leicester arm of the Grand Union seemed to be quite overgrown through this next stretch as trees and reeds narrowed it to about a single narrowboat width in places. Stevo was almost cleaned up on a blind bend when a boater failed to see him and Stevo started back-paddling into the reeds. Luckily the driver saw him at last and took evasive action missing the kayak by inches. Phew. Around the next bend was a sheep that had pushed too far into the canal trying to reach tasty leaves and was half submerged and baaing mournfully. Stevo considered trying to help but figured he’d just end up in the water with it. Finally they spotted a group on a turnover bridge that was Victoria and Guy and Alice as well as Curtis and his Mum Lesley who’d brought him back to rejoin the party after he’d left back in Keadby.

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The day ended at the Crick Wharf Marina in Crick which is coincidentally the original home port of ‘Merlot’. So the old girl has come home. The group dined alfresco on a delicious sausage casserole prepared by Alice.

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