Wednesday 19 December 2012

Wednesday 19 December 2012 Floods Ferry

It was cold,damp and miserable this morning and we set off at about 10 30 AM.

We were just creeping along through the town when I noticed a fishing line go tight. One of the riverside residents had left a line out fishing for pike, he didn’t even have a proper float to see, just a lump of polystyrene. The owner had gone indoors and just left it. The line went taught, the reel paid out, once all the line was gone the rod flew out of its stand and shot into the river. I stopped and caught the rod with the boat hook, Diana cleared the line from the bows and the owner came down to the bank. The situation was under control then the rod owner told Diana to just throw the hook, bate, weight  and lump of polystyrene back into the water and before I could say anything, she did. I now had the rod on the roof and the tackle in the water, so I now had to retrieve it before I could put the boat in gear to try and get the boat back under control and not hit the cruisers moored along the bank. After all this I reversed back and gave the fisherman his equipment back, he said he wasn’t expecting any boats to go by.

After this it was an uneventful trip back to the moorings where I set to and drained the water system in case we get any bad frosts before we get back to her after Christmas.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Tuesday 18 December 2012 March

This morning was not as bright as the last couple of days and we have had a few spots of rain.
Before setting off we went to look at the mud and water at Denver and outside Salters Lode lock. The tide was still just making slowly and it was not a particularly big tide. I think I could have probably got over to Denver, but there is no way I would have chosen to come back. I have set the photos against yesterdays at low tide.a smallDSCF0634a smallDSCF0633

a smallDSCF0635a smallDSCF0626




It was twenty past ten when we set off with a target of March for the night. I rather like the village sign for Outwell depicting the light railway that use to run from Wisbech through Outwell to Upwell. The two villages join each other and run along the banks of Well Creek.  a smallDSCF0639

  I rang Marmont Priory lock as we passed through Upwell and left a message that we were on our way. When we arrived the lock was exactly how we left it, I rang the bell for the lock keeper and we proceeded to work our way through, We were almost down before Maureen appeared for a chat. As you can see there is a bridge over the lock with about 6 feet headroom when the lock is full, so you have to remember to remove the chimney when cominga smallDSCF0649 up.

By now the weather was getting brighter and the slight breeze dying away, as we passed the wind farm the generators were coming to a standstill and therea smallDSCF0663 were even bits of blue in the sky.

At the end of the wind farm we passed the moorings that were our first choice on Sunday but we discounted due to the noise of the turbines, today they would have been fine.

It was 3 pm by the time we reached March and of course all the moorings were deserted so we pulled over on the first stretch of straight on the town moorings. March has all its Christmas lights out and about 4 pm they started to come on.a smallDSCF0686 This was the view from the front of the boat, unfortunately due to the fact they are floating boats don’t make the most stable platform for long exposure photographs.

Monday 17 December 2012

Monday 17 December 2012 Salters Lode

It was a nice little mooring down Popham Eau. We had a bit of rain just as we were going to bed but it didn’t come to much. This morning at dawn a crow decided that to sit on the bridge we were moored by would be a good thing, a smallDSCF0603then he could call his mates in, I appeared he didn’t have many friends, regardless of how often or how loud he called no more came, so he just sat there calling away.

When we got up it was a fine day with a very light covering of cloud, we were away at 9 30 am and I gave Maureen a ring to tell her we were on our way to her lock. I only got the answer phone and when we arrived at the lock there was no sign of her so we worked ourselves through.a smallDSCF0606

On the way to the lock, back on the Old Nene we passed farm trailer with a hovercraft on it, it didn’t look as if its run for a few years.a smallDSCF0604

Well Creek was its normal slow drag in the mud, but the weather was getting better all the time. The mile posts along the road that run parallel to Well Creek are interesting with the sign of the crossed keys on them.DSCF0608

I found it difficult to get any information about this marking. There is a place called “Cross Keys” which is not a million miles away and also I found a reference to St Paul who is the patron saint of travellers. But if anyone know a better answer I am all ears.
As we made our way passed Nordelph I heard the call of birds and looked up to see a flight of swans going over, a smallDSCF0612we could hear them calling last night when we moored up and guessed they were at Welney.
We tied up at Salters Lode at 1 30 pm and went to have a look at the river beyond the lock and already you could see the mud and it was only 3 hrs. after high a smallDSCF0614tide. When we looked again at p.m. with the time still falling this is what greeted us, a sandbank just about filling the entrance to the locka smallDSCF0633.

We decided to take a walk down the river bank to see the state of the silting at Denver sluice before it got dark and what we saw was not a happy sight. The silt bar runs from the east bank, upstream of the lock landing out as far as the edge of the sluices and right up to the face of the sluices so you can’t even get round behind it.a smallDSCF0623 The water is just covering the mud in this photograph right up to the buoys. Something with less than two feet draft may be able to get along the back on the top of a good tide.

The last few times that we have come this way there has been a sunken boat opposite The Crown Lodge Hotel at Outwell, as we passed today it was gone, but we found it at Salters Lode sitting on top of a bonfirea smallDSCF0617.

Again we were treated to a grand sunset with the sun going down over Well Creeka smallDSCF0619, if we get another three days like this I shall be very happy, even the ducks seem to be enjoying this nice weathera smallDSCF0630.

As you can see from this photograph there are a couple of boats waiting to cross to Denver if the silt gets scoured away, one of them has been here a month now, but as he said “If you don’t need to be somewhere there are lots worse places to be stuck”

I will try and get some more shots of Denver in the morning before we leave, but the tide will be higher.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Sunday 16 Dec 2012 Popham’s Eau

First an apology, I have had to turn on the anti spam verification on the feedback page of the blog. I hate these things trying to guess what the wobbly word is but the level of spam has built up to such a level over the past week or so it has become a real pain.


Right as you have probably guessed we are back out on Harnser. We did visit her last week to drain all the water and check the mooring lines. Talking to some of the moorers it seems that the water level was up over the walkway but a couple of the moorers when out every few hours including through the night to check every ones boat was safe.

We arrived just after lunch time and after filling everything with water including the main tank we were off by 1315 hrs. heading towards March. The weather was grand with a gentle breeze and warm sunshine, it was so nice that we decided to continue on through March and investigate the moorings opposite the wind farm.

Just beyond the railway bridge the land owner looks to be extending his moorings and has scraped all the bank undergrowth away and installed a short length of pilinga smallDSCF0594.

Not only has he done the section in front of his bungalow but he has also carried on to the east as far as the radio mast.a smallDSCF0595

We were expecting to drag through this bit of the river as the level looked well down when we left the moorings but we had no problem at all.
Once by the wind farm I slowed down to moor against the small landing platform opposite the first wind generator but Diana who was standing on the bow well away from the engine said that she could hear the generator quite plainly so we continued on leaving the sun falling towards the water behinda smallDSCF0597 us.

I knew that there was another small landing stage by the first bridge down Popham Eau which runs off the river to the right at the other end of the wind farm. By the time we turned down Popham Eau the sun was getting really low and with the lack of sun it was feeling decidedly cool and on turning it was time to put a coat and gloves on. As we approached the bridge I turned as the waterway narrows through the bridge and then backed down to the landing stage. With our bows against the landing stage the stern just came in by the piling around the bridge abutments, luckily for us there had been a hole bored it the top of one of the piles which I could thread the stern mooring line through. This is not piling like you get along the canal towing path but steel sheets about 250 mm wide and 5mm thick, so there is no chance of our mooring rope damaging it.
We were tucked up a little before four o’clock and went for a short walk, it was still quite light with a clear blue sky and the thinnest crescent of a moon.

Monday 5 November 2012

Monday 5 November 2012 Home Moorings

Last night again we had heavy rain, but this morning we wokea smallDSCF0543 to a bright blue sky. The other thing we woke to was the Old River Nene, part of The Middle Level that flows through March,

The flow on the Old River Nene

which is normally a mill pond was flowing as fast as the River Cam was a couple of days ago. About a mile further along we could see why the water was moving so fast, they are pumpinga smallDSCF0547 the drainage dykes on the Middle Level as fast as they can.
The levels were up by several inches and I had to remove the chimney and exhaust to get under a couple of the bridges.

Just over an hour later we were back at our moorings and as I slid into our berth I could see that the next door boat was listing a bit. We moor nose on and there is a small dolphin with mooring rings about 30 foot out so we have to moor using a centre rope and as the water was probably 10” higher than last week his centre line was pulling him over, so I slacked it off for him. The boat on the other side of us is a very old motorised butty with a step mounted on the side of the back cockpit, this had got wedged under the top of a steel mooring bollard. After I pushed it out it bobbed up a good 4” above it.
I moored up with a bit of slack so I expect next time we visit the boat will be all over the show.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Sunday 4 November 2012 March

Last night we had a meal in The Jenyns Arms. I must say the service was very good, a very nice range of sweets and one or two unusual main courses, not forgetting the Adnams bitter and IPA.

This morning we were due to lock out onto the tidal Ouse at 10 am so about quarter past nine, in the rain, we moved over to the lock moorings, I didn’t even have time to go along side the moorings before Daniel was drawing the gate. he said Paul had already started at Salters so we were on our way. As the lock filled the water coming in looked like gravy,a smallDSCF0528 a nice dark brown. The tide was still making as we went straight down the river, no going round the back of sand banks and passed nb. Gemini on her way up. We crossed with her last week as we came up and she went down.

I made a real hash of turning into Salters Lode going over far to early getting the bows in slack water while the stern was still out in the flow. I am glad we weren’t much later as the tide was still making and we didn’t have much headroom to spare, a smallDSCF0529if we couldn’t have got under we would have had to stayed outside the lock until after the tide had turned. it was a 21 ft. tide but with all the fresh on it may pushed a bit higher.

Paul had told Maureen at Marmont Priory lock we were on our way but Diana still rang her from Upwell, she only got the answer phone and there was no sign of he at the lock so we worked ourselves through.

We past a medium sized straw stack on the way, I estimate there are between 750 and 800 large bails in it.a smallDSCF0531 Some of them are much larger than this, you can also see its still raining.

On one of the small mooring/fishing platforms in Upwell I spotter this traditional woven ell trap. a smallDSCF0533I don’t think trapping for ells is allowed at the moment due to the rapid decline in their numbers in the UK. The trap is basically a bottle shaped basket where the ell swims in through the neck and can’t get out again. You can see these being made in this old film on Fenland Life in 1947 http://www.eafa.org.uk/catalogue/390 
We passed a few fishermen on the way  who seamed quite happy standing out in the rain, pike fishing, or sitting under their brollies float fishing.
We stopped off briefly in March to look at the newly refurbished facility block which has a pump out station, a smallDSCF0536water point and elsan disposal sluice. The doors are unlocked as the keys required are different to the regular Middle Level Key.
Another 300 yards of so and we pulled over to the left to moor for the night, it was quarter to three and still raining.

Saturday 3 November 2012

Saturday 3 November 2012 Denver Sluice

Last night was another clear bright moon and star light night and  I didn’t go out I think there may have been a touch of frost on the grass this morning to check. The air temperature fell to 1°C.

We left The Ship EA moorings at 0950 hrs. and the weather wasa smallDSCF0506 not that great, but it would get worse.
We headed down the Great Ouse towards Denver Sluice, On the way we noticed they were cutting the grass on the bank, as well as a tractor with an arm mounted flail there was a rather smart forward mounted flail cutter doing the less inclined bits.a smallDSCF0509


As we passed the mouth of the River Wissey we decided to go up there for a bit. It was not long after this that it started to rain and turn several degrees cooler. We pushed on up the river a short way past the village of Hilgay until the river widened enough for us to turn, coming back down stream was much faster. Once back on the Gt. Ouse we turned right and continued down to Denver Sluice.a smallDSCF0522 By now the rain had stopped and the sun was showing its face again which put a rainbow over a smallDSCF0519the river. Unfortunately they don’t photograph very well unless the sky is quite dark.

What ever those floating wire basketa smallDSCF0510 things are that I have photo'd in the past this one has made a good bid for freedom and I expect he will soon be down by the sluice to join the Floating Pennywort.

We stopped at the services at Denver Sluice to empty the toilet tank and fill the fresh water tank before going back upstream about a half a mile to see Graham on Matilda Rose for a cup of tea and a chat. About half three we said goodbye and moved to the EA moorings by the Jenyns Arms for the night, from here its only a short hop to the lock moorings to lock back down to the tidal Gt. Ouse in the morning and back in to the Middle Level at Salters Lode.

Friday 2 November 2012

Friday 2 November 2012 The Ship

Last night was just magical with a bright moon and loads of stars. The moon and Jupiter were very close and right in the middle of Taurus, if its clear tonight go and have a look. This morning was bright sunshine and at 9 am the moon was still visible in the pale blue sky.

We set off at 1025 hrs. heading down towards Reach Lode. They have been re-profiling the bank along side Wicken Lode and sowing it with grass seed,a smallDSCF0463 but it will be some time before its fit to walk on. at the moment its like soggy bulb fibre.

At the end of the Lode we passed under the wooden bridge a smallDSCF0475and onto Reach Lode, turning hard right down to Reach Lock. We were slightly delayed at the lock as we both had problems trying to unlock the control boxes. The EA Ably keys look good but the locks on the panels and water point boxes are rubbish.

Once through the lock it was another right turn round the gardens of the Five Miles from Anywhere pub and down the River Cam to Popes Corner. Imray Guide goes on about the Fish and Duck pub being recently refurbished and under new ownership. Today there is no trace of it, just a small marine that is about to be refurbished its self. The Cam is aa smallDSCF0478 meandering river with very wide flood plains on the inside of most of the bends.

We were now back on the Gt Ouse, I rang the lock keeper at Denver to check the lock times for the next few days. Sunday gives us a 21 ft. tide at about 10 in the morning, after this they get progressively smaller, so we are planning to catch the Sunday morning locking. We saw one or two boats around the Ely area but not much after that.
We didn’t have any rain today but we did see a rainbowa smallDSCF0497 ahead of us at Littleport.

At the Little Ouse we turned right yet again to go down to The Little Ouse moorings to fill with £180 worth of diesel. We last filled up on the Grand Union and the heating has been on 24/7 since then. No sooner were we tied up and read to take diesel than Danny jumped aboard and started examining our paint work with his microscope like this one. It was amazing looking at the micro blisters in my paint work through this and also to see how the paint surface was cracked and crazed. Next came the electronic coating thickness gauge which showed that my paintwork was applied to a good thickness.
By the time we were finished it was nearly 4 pm. so we winded using just the flow of the river to take the bows round 180° while Danny held our stern steady with a rope, we fairly flew down to the junction with the Gt Ouse again where we moored at the EA moorings by The Ship.

Thursday 1 November 2012

Thursday 1 November 2012 Wicken Lode

Last night we ate at The Bridge Clayhithe. The pub fronts righta smallDSCF0418 onto the river but we moored just the other side of the bridge at the Cam Conservancy 48 hr. moorings. Over night we had heavy rain again, a little over 11 mm.a smallDSCF0409

This morning we set off at 10 am. winding and heading back up river to Baits Bite  lock to hand over some photos we took to Camcon who are looking for illustrations for their new guide to the Backs. We then turned below the weir and locka smallDSCF0412 to head off back down stream.

We have often considered visiting Horningsea as we have passed but there are only two public staithes, both forbid overnight a smallDSCF0416mooring and both are only about 25-30 foot long, so it would mean mooring the bows with the stern sitting out in the river on a mud weight.
Work is still continuing on the upper landing stage at Bottishama smallDSCF0421 Lock, it is a great improvement. They are also working on one of the three a smallDSCF0423sluice gates beside the lock. Following last nights 11 mm of rain the river above the lock was up a bit. Below the lock was more like a circus act with four chaps in dry suits trying to attach a smallDSCF0427lines to the scaffolding above. I think this was to install another coffer dam behind the gate.

The work at Bottisham Lode is completed and the coffer dam in front of the slam gates is removed along with all the pumps. Maybe the same team working below Bottisham Lock removed it.

We had planned to take a look up Swaffham Bullbeck Lode on our way down stream. Our Imray guide says it navigable to Slade Farm and the EA map says restricted access.
a smallDSCF0431Both appear to be wrong as there is a “No Entry” sign at the mouth of the lock. Both sets of V doors have been removed from the river end,a smallDSCF0438 so you would only be able to pass on the level. These gates use to be back to back as it was possible for the river to be higher or lower than the Lode.
The lock is in good conditiona smallDSCF0435 and even has “Safety Chains” hung along its length. The notice a smallDSCF0434at the mouth of the lock dates back to the  Anglian Water days.

The Lode its self also looks in good condition from what I could see from the lock. I wonder if navigation has ever a smallDSCF0437officially been abandoned  or just abandoned by neglect?

With that bit of exploring abandoned, it was again back down stream to Upware, where we turned a tight right to Reach Lode Lock.
This is an automatic flood control lock, but today there was less than an inch difference in the water levels,a smallDSCF0440 but you still can’t sail straight through, the lode end gate wont open until the river end is closed. Once clear of the lock we filled with water on the lock landing and then headed up Reach Lode as far as Wicken Lode, here we turned left under the wooden bridge and continued to the end of navigation in the rain, mooring on the GOBA moorings at the far end.