I don’t like Braunston tunnel at the best of times, but yesterday took the biscuit. A bit of a nightmare really. About eighty yards in, our tunnel light decided to expire. Poor Rick was at the tiller and he could see nothing. And I mean nothing. I rushed up the front to waggle the wires in case it was a bad connection. Kath grabbed an LED torch and sat in the cratch trying to make its pathetic light give Rick something to see. We put all the cabin lights on which give a bit of a glow around the boat, but not enough to help really.
And so we soldiered on for the remaining mile and a bit in the near pitch dark with Rick trying desperately not to scrape us along the tunnel wall. Although a brave effort, he was not entirely successful in this respect and Herbie’s side hatch cover now bears the scars. My efforts at repairing the light met were no more successful..
Lights from the other end were approaching and in time we passed three ( I think) other boats, each one exactly at the places where the tunnel does its infamous wiggle. They could just about see us because by then Kath lit up our old candle powered carriage lamp and I had put an oil lamp on the foredeck. Thinking about that now, that constitutes a naked light, which you are specifically warned against in tunnels. Ooh er. I promise not to do it again.
Once out into the day light I dismantled the spotlight and set about the wiring with a voltmeter only to show that the volts were there but the bulb wouldn’t light although the element was visibly intact. Later we discovered that a tiny spot welded connection inside the bulb fitting had broken loose. No repair possible without a new bulb , which was a bit of a problem because we still had Crick tunnel to negotiate after lunch. Compared with Braunston though that was a piece of cake, being nice and straight, so you can see the other end, and a mere 1500 yards long. Kath developed a handy technique of waving the torch from side to side creating a sort of arc of light on the tunnel ceiling to at least give an idea of how central the boat was.
Earlier in the day we had a rather better time when we happened to catch up with the Halfies (looking at their blog today i see that they had wondered why we had disappeared in the tunnel) coming up the Braunston flight, so we had a chance for a quick tour of Jubilee. Whoever fitted her out did a very nice job I have to say.
Another biscuit was taken that morning – for the worst bit of towpath I have ever tried to walk along half way up Braunston locks. All the recent rains had left deep puddles and even deeper soft mud right across the path. There was nothing for it but to squelch through. With hindsight i should have climbed back on the boat and ridden past the quagmire.
Quite an eventful end to our cruise all in all.