We left our moorings on the Wissey at 9-30 as I knew the boat behind was also hoping to cross from Denver to Salters Lode. Out onto the Gt Ouse and turn right on a slightly chilly morning due to the fresh breeze. When we arrived at Denver I was somewhat surprised to see 5 boats on the lock mooring waiting to cross and one on the EA moorings opposite. I wish I had come down last night and moored on the lock moorings overnight.
We tied up and went to chat with the other boaters and as expected locking was due to start about midday. The Chaps were below the sluice with there floating bulldozer etc. but due to the very high tide they were unable to do anything as the water was to deep. The crawler excavator had beetled off up the bank and a good job to as the level section of bank he had made to work from was just lapping with the high water.
Around mid day the locky arrived and said there were two boats waiting to come from Salters and there were now nine waiting to go the other way, but he hoped to get us all across on this tide. It was some while before the water level dropped enough for the Salters Lode lock to operate but once it dropped a foot the dredging started. The floating bulldozer acts like a drag line pulling the spoil to the bank, this is then removed with a crawler mounted digger. The floating bulldozer is attached to the base of the digger with a long line and he uses this to pull himself in. There are more details on this system on their web site at http://www.adceastanglia.co.uk/News/Silt-Pusher
In the end there was only one boat coming over from Salters so after that arrived boats were put through Denver lock in pairs, with one going straight into Salters Lode lock and the second waiting in the mouth. It was not long before it was our turn, we locked up with a Fox’s hire boat, the lady steerer was apprehensive but made a good job of the swing out. I waited until she was out into the river before slowly making my way out, the silt was now visible and the nearest obstacle was probably 60 to 80 feet in front of the lock, not much space to turn in. I went down the river on tickover and watched the Fox boat make a good turn into the lock, I had decided that due to silting at Salters I would cut tight round the marker putting the bows on the downstream wall and let the stern swing. When I got there it was a rapid change of plan as the Fox boat for some reason was still outside the lock and the gate was still open. Plan B, turn at right angles and slide up to their stern, by the time I had got round they were entering the lock, but I was on the mud. I backed off and dropped downstream backwards, it seemed to take for ever to get forward movement again and taking a wide sweep into the lock was able to stop just short of the closing gate.
We left Salters at 2-30 pm and I rang Marmont Priory lock to see if if I would be able to get through tonight as we would be late, Maureen gave us the thumbs up so off we went. Below Marmont lock the water was covered in duckweed but further down when a week ago it had all been red weed it was now clear. As we approached March the storm clouds were gathering and as we passed the railway bridge it was time to put our coats on. We pulled onto the town moorings at 7pm and went to our favourite Italian to eat