Day 17 (23rd Sep 2013) – Crick to Napton Junction:

The promised second fine day in a row didn’t materialise as the threesome of Justin, Stevo and Louise set out from Crick with their kayaks on the roof of ‘Merlot’. Around the corner was Crick tunnel, at 1500 yards it was a bit longer than Bosworth the previous day. After the tunnel it was a short paddle to the Watford locks. These locks are adjacent to the famous Watford Gap services on the M1. It’s slightly surreal to hear the traffic roar past as you paddle underneath the motorway; two different worlds. The lock-keeper informed the crew that he was letting six boats come up the seven lock flight, three locks plus a four lock staircase. A couple of hours wait and the Gutless schedule was going to take a hit…

Eventually the convoy made the bottom of the Watford locks and the kayakers entered the water. A fairly short four mile or so paddle until the Braunston tunnel and Louise decided to take a quick half swim after almost getting out of her kayak and dropping back into the canal. That’s five swims total so far. Then the kayaks were back out of the water and on the roof of ‘Merlot’ for the two thousand yard Braunston tunnel followed by the six flights of the Braunston locks before meeting up with the crew of the next support boat, the ‘Lancelot’, John and Graham. The lads were from the London Narrow Boat Project at Braunston.



It had been a long day so far but without much paddling so Justin set Napton as the target for the day. As it happened ‘Merlot’ has a plaque on her bow declaring Napton as her birthplace, so after home port Crick yesterday she’s having a bit of a retro couple ‘o’ days. Stevo saw an imaginary first pint in front of him so paddled like a mad man and made the six miles in less than one and a half hours .

The debrief was held at the Bridge pub at bridge 111 in Napton Junction. Louise had to head back to Manchester and to work on Tuesday to the distress of the rest of the crew. Later Curtis cooked up a delicious meal of fajitas that was enjoyed by all. Alice gave a rundown of the current state the fund raising situation and declared that Geoffrey Cassidy had donated 100 pounds to take the total over four thousand quid. ‘”I’ve got a brother with that name”, said Stevo, and after a phone call it was confirmed. Geoff was hoping to join the crew for a quest paddle later in the odyssey.

Onward to Oxford…


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