Last night we had a very pleasant evening in out favourite Italian Restaurant in March, Mamma Mia right on the riverside.
We set off at 9 45 this morning for a 5 pm locking out of Salters Lode. Just passed March we saw a rabbit swimming across the river, this was a new one on me and I have never seen a rabbit swim before.
I rang Maureen as we passed the 20 Foot River junction to tell her we would be an hour reaching her lock, but only got the answer phone, the reason soon became clear as we met 5 boats before we got to her lock, so she had a busy morning. As we approached the junction with Popham’s Eau the river was completely covered with Fairy Moss and these two boats looked like they were in a car park. I am glad I didn’t meet them a little bit later as there is not that much room for boats 3 abreast after the junction. As we approached the lock Maureen rang and asked how far away we were as she had a boat waiting to come down who was getting impatient, when I told her I was just round the bend she said the gates were open for us. We went into the lock at 1120 exactly an hour after I rang her, the other boat had waited all of 15 minutes. It was good to see her husband with her being fit enough to help with the lock.
After the lock progress slowed with more weed about under the surface requiring a few blasts of reverse to clear the prop, we also had a couple of short showers as we made our way to Salters Lode. We arrived at the lock at about 3 pm and wandered down to see the state of the tide, it was still running out but the mud bank was clearly visible out in the entrance. A handy place for the ducks to rest. It is Pauls day off but he still appeared about 4pm as did the crew of a 70 footer that had arrived a short time after us. With the water this low it was about 6” below the level of Well Creek, so Paul lifted the gate to flush water over the mud to prevent it getting worse. With the crew of the other boat present a plan was hatched. Although it was Pauls day off he would lock the other boat out at about 4.45pm while the river level was still lower than the Middle Level then at 5 pm the relief lock keeper would be on site to carry on. What actually happened was the relief lock keeper arrived at 4.30 pm so he was able to lock the boat out who then sat with his bow against the mud, this just gave room to close the gate behind him. He had to stay in this position until the tide turned and had come in enough for him to clear the mud. At the same time a boat, one of about 8 was waiting at Denver to come the other way. The mud build up at Denver has got much worse over the past couple of weeks and now not only extends out to the edge of the New Bedford River but is also closer to the sluice structure. This means that boats have to stay very close to the sluices and come well into the New Bedford to get in or out. This meant the boat leaving Salters actually had to wait for the boat leaving Denver to get a clear passage round the bank. Once he was clear of the bank the 70 footer could leave. We in turn had to wait until the other boat arrived and locked through to the middle level before we could do anything. Our 5 pm locking became a 6.30 one. As I approached Denver lock there was quite a crowd waiting to watch me come in. Once through the lock we moored for the night on the EA moorings just above the Jenyn’s Arms http://www.jenyns.co.uk/ at 7 pm. we then walked down to the pub for a meal and a pint.