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Back to base

Sunday 10th July


I thought that it was time to complete the story of how we got back to Braunston despite having a faulty gearbox. After we tied up between locks five and six near Atherstone we decided to have a break, after all this was supposed to be our summer holiday! On Tuesday we strolled into the town of Atherstone and just put the mechanical problems behind us for a few hours. After wandering around the market we found ourselves drifting once again in the direction of the Red Lion and finding sanctuary in the Library there. We spent the evening back on the boat thinking about the rest of our journey, the situation wasn’t ideal but we were on familiar waters with hardly any locks to negotiate, heading in the right direction.

The weather was fair again on Wednesday so we had another wander around Atherstone before having lunch in our favourite venue, The Red Lion. There are many pubs and eateries in Atherstone but to be perfectly honest we haven’t tried any other simply because we have always enjoyed good food, friendly service and a warm welcome in a lovely setting. After lunch we did a bit of shopping before returning to the boat where we prepared for the next part of our journey. We crept up the remaining five locks before stopping at the top to take on water, empty the toilet and chuck the rubbish. There was a queue of boats waiting to descend when a pair of ex working boats chugged past them all and smashed into the top lock gate, claiming first place for the descent. Luckily (for them) this didn’t directly affect us so we edged past them in the opposite direction and left the other boaters to chunter. Unfortunately there are a number of ex working boat owners who seem to think that they have a right to some priority over leisure boaters. That isn’t the case and their boats are just leisure craft too. Oh, and for the record, had we been in that queue, they would have been reversing the “pair” to the back of it even if some force, reasonable or otherwise had been needed. We ended our day back at Springwood Haven where we moored up for the night.

On Thursday morning I took a walk over to the marina and had a talk with the mechanic there about our gearbox problem. He told me that the gearbox we had was still in production but any work we needed would have to be done there. We sorted ourselves out and plodded on down the Coventry canal through Nuneaton, past the entrance to the Ashby canal at Marston Jabbett and on to Sutton stop. We had a slight delay at the shallow lock and then we made our way along the North Oxford before being luckily enough to find a mooring at Ansty, almost in the place that we had abandoned ship in November 2010. We spent some time outside watching the ducks and moorhens messing about on the water.

The weather forecasters had predicted showers for Friday but I was feeling lucky so we untied and headed back to base. We weren’t lucky and after a few sharp showers, the heavens opened in the early afternoon and I got soaked, should have stayed put I suppose!

We passed Treena and Stuart on Carpe Diem heading north after we had passed through Rugby and then we saw another of our old pals, Serendipity Steve (Plays Tuba, Drives Trucks and Drinks Beer) tied up somewhere south of Hillmorton. We eventually reached the marina at half past five, tied up and after eating our evening meal, flopped in front of the telly for a while before turning in for the night.

Saturday morning dawned and after our customary morning cuppa, we got dressed and set off on our trek to get the car back from our house. The trip involved a bus trip from Braunston to Rugby railway station which took forty five minutes and then we drank coffee while we waited another fifty minutes for the train to Nuneaton. The train journey to Nuneaton only lasted twelve minutes and a fair chunk of that runs parallel to the canal that we had travelled along the previous day. Alighting at Nuneaton, we walked across the car park and down the road to the bus station where we caught the 158 service which would get us back to within walking distance of our home and the car. After dealing with the post and checking out the produce in the garden we headed back to Braunston. We’ve decided to live on the boat for the second week of the holiday, get some expert opinion on the gearbox and then decide on whether to repair it or to replace it and the engine. This might seem like a drastic move but we intend to keep Phoenix III for another five or six years and we are fed up of being blighted by the mechanical problems associated with running an obsolete engine and gearbox both of which were built in China. A modern engine and drive-train should bring us some peace of mind and improve the sale-ability of the boat when the time comes.