Wednesday 31 October 2012

Wednesday 31 October 2012

0845 this morning I rang Kevin and Debbi to tell them I was making my way to Jesus lock, he said he was just out with the dogs and would be there shortly with his “time Lapse” camera to mount on the bows. a smallDSCF3040I walked over from where we were moored, swung the footbridge and closed the top gates, I then drew one bottom paddle before retuning to Harnser. By the time we had started and crossed the river from our overnight mooring the lock was ready. Just as I was opening the gates Kevin and Debbi arrived and we were soon on our way,a smallDSCF0352 It wasn’t long before we saw our first bunch of moored punts, but we didn’t see any on the move.
Some of the bridges are quite low, but not low enough to causea smallSt John's Kitchen Bridge b us a problem with our 1.7 Mt air draft. of these St John Kitchen Bridge is the lowest.
The whole town quay  is now taken over by the punt companies with floating pontoonsa smallDSCF3169 attached to the length of it to moor the punts to. The next large bunch of punts was just through Silver street moored on the left going upstream on the outside of the bend. a smallDSCF3128This is the recommended winding point but we continued  on to wind at Mill Pit where the weir flows in. I messed it up first time as a fisherman on the bend didn’t wind his tackle in to thea smallDSCF3120 very last moment which caused me to lose momentum and the bows to start coming round to early, as I backed up the flow took the bows to close to the bank and we were aground.a smallDSCF3123 I got it right with the second attempt. We had an uneventful run back down to Jesus lock in the sunshine, we couldn’t have asked for a better day.
We left the lock and headed down stream to the common wherea smallDSCF3183 Kevin was moored, there was no sign of the circus that was hear last night. On Kevin’s boat we downloaded the 4 cameras, The Time Laps one had almost 3000 images which Kevin is going to make into a video for us. We gave him the ones Di and I took and Debbi gave us the ones she took, so between us we have a good photo record of the trip.

Kevin has done the business with the time laps vidio and you can see our trip up the Backs and down as far as the common.

Around lunch time we said goodbye and headed down stream to Clayhithe to moor for the night. We arrived at Baits Bite lock just as a Black Prince hire boat was entering the lock so pulled in beside them. They were also heading for Clayhithe and went off first, when we arrived they had moored in the middle of the moorings, so Diana had to ask them to move up a bit.
Just after we moored the engine started missing badly, I was planning to change the fuel filters next time I filled up with diesel, its easier with a full tank, so doing it now was not too much of a problem. The first filter was a bit mucky but no more than I expected after 2000 hrs. so I changed them both. The engine had given me a warning with the odd cough when running on light load for the passed few days.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Tuesday 30 October 2012 Cambridge

Last night was magical, a clear sky with a full moon. The only sounds we could hear were the calls of the Widgeon, teal and geese as they flew overhead. On the opposite bank a heard of cows were keeping an eye on us. If we had navigation lights I would have continued up to Cambridge in the dark.

This morning we woke to bright sunshine and it accompanied us all the way to Cambridge but the air definitely had a chill to it. As we set off at 9 20 am.a smallDSCF0290 I could see across the fields that there was a lot of activity at Upware Lock, maybe its closed for maintenance. The entrance to The river was very quiet and we didn’t see another boat until we were working up through Bottisham Lock.

I was tempted to take a trip up Swaffham Bulbeck Lode but according to thea smallDSCF0294 guides its only navigatable for the first couple of miles to Slades Farm. I may have a look on the way back. Not sure what is happening at Bottisham Lode but there is a dam in front of the sluice and several pumps running.

a smallDSCF0295

a smallDSCF0298







There was also a lot of work going on on the sluice beside Bottisham Lock. a smallDSCF0303It doesn’t really seem the right time of the year to be taking sluices out of service, maybe summer would be better. One good thing is they have repaired the upstream lock landing, this has been very bad for Narrowboats for some years as it was easy to have the hull slide under the pontoon and end up taking the paint off the cabin side.
Just before Baits Bite lock we were hailed by a policeman on the towing path looking for a couple of lads who had legged along the towing path, but we hadn’t seen anyone. While we were in Baits Bite lock more police arrived and also the helicopter was looking for them.
At Baits Bit Lock I went in the lock office to see the river manager as she had a copy of a draft guide to cruising above Jesus Lock for me. By the time we entered the lock there was aa smallDSCF0309 Camcon workboat waiting to go up as well so he squeezed in behind us. This lock seems to take ages to fill. Not long after leaving the lock we met a red wide beam boat, it is a local “Play Boat” called Chypps that is normally moored in town for different groups of children to visit, but on occasions they take groups out for a cruise, today it was youngsters with learning difficulties. As a smallDSCF0322we passed the common we noticed that the circus was in town, I don’t think I would fancy mooring alongside that. Our favourite mooring beside The Fort St George was taken, we could have got in behind but then the stern would have been under the footbridge, not a good idea so we carried on up stream and moored opposite the service point, below the weir, I think it will probably be a bit nosier than by the pub and it has no internet hotspot but quieter than the circus. We moored up about 1330hrs and it wasn’t long before Avalon came up river and stopped for a chat before heading off to the common to moor. Just after they had gone Chypps came back and worked up through Jesus Lock, a smallDSCF0339letting the youngsters help with the paddles and gates. We went for a short walk around town and when we returned all the vacant moorings spots around us were taken with one late comer mooring on the service point for the night.

Monday 29 October 2012

Monday 29 October 2012 Upware

Yesterday evening we were sitting nice and cosy in the lounge, outside it was dark and raining, suddenly “Bang” and the boat rocked. I though someone had come along side in the dark, but no, he just hit me up the bum trying to moor behind us. Anyway we put on coats and boots and  moved Harnser forward to give him more room. They had stopped for lunch and forgotten that it would get dark an hour earlier.

This morning our new neighbour went to see Paul the lock keeper and came back to inform us that the lock keeper at Denver doesn’t start until 9 am in October, but as they had dredged the channel leading straight to the lock we were to go down and wait on the pontoon. I have never been able to get near the pontoon before so that would be a first. After I had finished taking the poly off the prop I walked down to see Paul and he told me the same thing except the tide was running out and we should get a move on.
Harnser’s engine was already running so it didn’t take us many a smallDSCF0261minutes to get into the lock, by quarter past 8 we were out onto the Great Ouse and slowly making the 110° turn upstream againsta smallDSCF0265 the ebbing tide. The water level only looked to be about 2 foot higher than when I looked at low tide, this is due to the fresh coming down the New Bedford from Eritha smallDSCF0268.

It wasn’t long before we were approaching the Denver Sluice lock landing.a smallDSCF0267 This is a floating pontoon inline with the mouth of the lock. Because the whole complex opens out like a funnel onto the river as the tide flows out it sweeps round in a large circle, so as you approach the landing stage you now have the flow coming from behind you, considering up till now you had been pushing against the stream it makes stopping interesting. For this reason I waited at the end of the pontoon to take a rope from the boata smallDSCF0269 following so as not to get another smack up the bum, and its a good job I did. We were at the lock before half 8, Dan the lock keeper arrived a few minutes to 9 and as soon as the gate was up we were on our way ina smallDSCF0270.

The next stop was Hilgay bridge where we stopped to fill with water. While we were there I rang the river manager at the Cam Conservancy to tell her that we were planning to go above Jesus Lock on Wednesday morning, she has since emailed my with extra information for our journey. 
At  Littleport I saw two ladies waving madly surrounded by dogs, it was Leslie and Jill, but there was no sign of Graham and Joe, wise chaps. There were a lot of Black Headed Gulls about, but at this time of the year their heads are not black, DSCF0272just a spot behind the eye, there heads only turn black in the spring time.
We continued on our way, The marina at Ely was busy lifting boats out and I expect this one was on its way to a new home a smallDSCF0282somewhere. Just after this we passed our neighbours of last night, he was hoping to get his stern gland repacked as it was leaking badly.
We continued on to Popes Corner where we joined the River Cam a smallDSCF0284and headed to where we planned to moor for the night, the EA 48hr. moorings at Upware. We hadn’t been moored long when James on Lucky Duck came by, we noticed her moored in Ely as we came through.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Sunday 28 October 2012 Salters Lode

I would like to have said we were woken by the rain this morning, but actually we were woken every time a sugarbeet lorry went passed and also when a lot of the cars went speeding by. We are moored just 12 feet from the side of the A1122 and although its a 30 MPH area not everyone realises that. a smallDSCF0257When I say moored we have ropes attached but we are sitting in the mud and laying in bed you could feel the big lorries going by. Just after we were up this morning we heard voices outside and two canoes had just gone by. After calling in at The Crown to tell them that one of their signs had fallen/been pulled down on the moorings we made ready to set off, of course by now it was raining again.

We departed at 1030 am and very conveniently it stopped raining.  We had a steady run to Salters Lode only getting a couple of blade fulls of weed on the way, much better than last time. We arrived at Salters about mid day. The reason for our slow journey and also our noisy mooring was that Monday is the first usable tide to cross to Denver, its been like that since Thursday. Once moored up I walked to the lock and took a look at the river.a small DSCF0259 It looks as if the EA has dredged the riverside entrance to the lock from the amount of mud on the bank. We will find out in the morning.

Saturday 27 October 2012

Saturday 27 October 2012 Outwell

We had a bit of rain over night but woke to a bright but cool morning. As we returned from collecting the Chinese takeaway night last there was a chap by the foot bridge trying to set fire, with the aid of half a gallon of petrol to a large pile of brush cuttings from the trees that had been cut down. We could see this morning that he was not very successful. a smallDSCF0247

After breakfast we walked up to the town museum. My mum was born in March and lived here for the first few years of her life so anything of interest that we have found about March we have taken to them. This time it was a postcard that I received from March in 1967 and another dated 1914 that had my Grandfather in it. It was very none PC as he was fully blacked up like one of the Black and White Minstrels at a flower show in March. The third thing was a March newspaper from 1899. The interesting thing was that it was broad sheet and only 4 sides, but unlike modern papers where the sheets are folded down the side this was folded across the top.

Back on the boat we pushed off at 1150 am heading to Outwell just as it started to rain. The town Council has installed a new pumpout station on the end of the old service moorings. I didn’t stop to read the notice but I will find all the details for using it on our return.a smallDSCF0248 

As we passed the wind farm the skies got darker but it wasn't actually raining, however that didn’t last long and we were soona smallDSCF0252 getting very fine sleet which was followed by rain, not the nicest mixture to be driving a boat in. It was here that I rang Maureen at Marmont Priory lock to tell her we would be there in about an hour and it was the most miserable hours boating I have done for a long time. When we arrived at the lock it had just stopped raining, Diana went up to help set the lock while I put something a bit warmer on. She soon came back to say we had to wait for a boat coming down that would arrive soon so we went back inside for a bit of a warm up. The other boat was about 20 minutes and when it arrived Maureen and her son worked them down, Diana working the gates on our side of the lock. As soon as they were clear we were on our way again and soon rising up in the lock.a smallDSCF0253 It was a case of removing both the stove chimney and the exhaust to get under the bridge that crosses the lock, but we would need them off for the rest of the bridges on Well Creak anyway as the clearances are much lower than below the lock. We made our way through Upwell and Outwell to moor for the night at The Crown Lodge Hotel. Once moored up I crossed the road and went to book a table, this brought a sharp intake of breath from the chap I spoke to, after consulting the booking diary the best he could offer was 8-30 for 9 PM so I will probably be very hungry and then suffer indigestion.

Friday 26 October 2012

Friday October 26 2012 March

Not a lot to say really. We arrived at the boat a little after p.m. and got loaded up. While Diana packed away I drained a bit of fuel from each filter and it all looked OK. so I started the engine, I had already got the stove going, well it was only 9°. By the time we were ready to set off it was raining so we decided to wait and fill with water.
It was gone 3 when we set off and it wasn’t long before it was raining again and felt quite cold. About an hour later we were moored up along side the park in March, apart from the weather the other thing that sticks in my mind about the journey is the number of pike that jumped as we approached or passed.
By now it had stopped raining but the sky was black as your hat  and after a quick shopping trip to Lidl we hurried back to the boat.

As I type this at 1915hrs the temperature in the boat is a nice  23°c but outside its only 4.8°c the wind has dropped and its a clear moonlit night. We have just ordered a Chinese Takeaway from Wong’s Crispy Duck and I am about to go and pick it up.

Saturday 13 October 2012

Thursday 11 October 2012 Floods Ferry

Last night was OK. The fair was not open, the boat wasn’t set adrift. covered in paint, stuff nicked off the roof or any of the other horror stories I had heard about The Embankment. The road quietened down a bit and there weren’t many trains. There were a lot of geese early in the morning.

The weather was much cooler than of late and very overcast, we said goodbye to Lunar Dream and Tugby as that had managed to bring their bookings for Stanground forward. We had a booking for mid day so decided to spend the morning looking round the Cathedral, we didn’t allow anywhere near enough time and will need to go again.
11-30 and we were back on the boat ready to go, a gentle run down to Stanground lock, the railway bridge over the course of the old river leading to the lock has received a new a smallDSCF0207adornment. At Stanground we had a short wait for Tina to turn the lock and see us through, it was spot on 12 o’clock when we left the lock heading down Kings Dyke. We didn’t see any boats on the move but there were a few fishermen around Whittlesey and a topiary a smallDSCF0210bear waving to us from a garden.

Ashline lock was of course against us as not only had two boats been down ahead of us but which ever way you go you are instructed to leave it empty and open. It seemed to take ages to fill. A short way after the lock we passed Straw Bear, the boat we were traveling with a couple of days ago on the home moorings. As we headed east the weather deteriorated with some light drizzle. Not far from our moorings we found bank to bank floating fairy mossa smallDSCF0218 but it didn’t cause us any problems. It was just on 4 pm. when we tied up safely back in our berth. By the time we were ready to leave it was raining steadily and this got worse as we got home.

I am sorry this posting is so late, but we have a problem at home. The local farmer while flailing the hedges decided to flail the main multicore telephone overhead cable running to the village, this has resulted in half the village not having any telephones or broadband, what’s more they are going to take 2 weeks to fix it. I have discovered than by fixing my 3 Mifi against the bedroom window I am able to get a flaky 3G signal, hence just posting this.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Wednesday 10 October 2012 Peterborough

Last night we wandered into the village to eat at The Falcon, the had a couple of beers on at £3-50 but the food is quite up market and pricy.

Just before we set off this morning nb.Tugby and nb. Lunar Dream came by so we gave them a bit of space before leaving a smallDSCF0200our overnight mooring for which we had paid £4. We were to see them again at most of the locks until Alwalton. It took us just an hour to reach Elton lock which was our other choice of moorings for the night.
Just below Wansford Lock we found this collection of weed clearing vessels moored, we have not experienced any problems a smallDSCF0201with weeds on the river this trip so they must have done a good job. We met three Narrowboats and a Cruiser today so its been a busy day on the river.
We met the cruiser at Waternewton lock, his granddaughter was there to meet him and help him through the lock, it was just as well, as without her warning he would have damaged his canopy on the tail bridge. She saw him on his way and carried on walking with her dog.
For the people on the canals who complain about dog mess around locks don’t know they are living, down here its horses and cows a smallDSCF0204that do it.

At Alwalton lock we saw the best crop of sloes that we have seen all year, right beside the top lock gate. Diana started to pick some as I worked Harnser into the lock, then low and behold a Narrowboat came the other way so we had to leave the foraging and empty the lock before continuing on our way with just half a tub of fruit.
Just one more lock lay ahead of us for today and that is Orton lock and then it was on into Peterborough. We have moored on The Embankment behind Tugby and Lunar Dream, we have also been joined by nb. Early Bird who were not only moored in front of us last night but were also in the pub when we arrived. I am not sure it was a good move mooring here as the Fair is in town and the road quite noisy.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Tuesday 9 Oct 2012 Fotheringhay

We were up bright eyed and bushy tailed for a 8 am. start.a smallDSCF2951 Quick confab on the lock moorings brought forth that the EA had not checked at Islip yet but they thought it would be OK and to ring back at 8-30 for conformation. We decided to stay put a smallDSCF0184until after the 8-30 call which was a wise move as the level at Islip had not dropped and there were still 4 boats there. They were going to reverse Titchmarsh lock again so the navigation was still closed and they would ring us at about 1 pm. when it should be open. On the strength of that we went for a walk around the meadows. We could hear the hunting horns in the distance but couldn’t see anything. The spiders had had a field day overnight with cobwebs everywhere.a smallDSCF0182
On returning to the boat a little before 11 am. the others were making ready to set off, the EA had called to tell them the navigation was fully open. The boat below the lock went off first and then we shared the lock with Straw Bear and followed down.
By now the water levels were well down and as we dropped a smallDSCF0193in the lock the hunt crossed the river on the bridge behind us.
The river had dropped more this morning than it had all night and the flow was very gentle.
Straw Bear led the way first under the A14 where the EA had left a weedcutter moored,a smallDSCF0195 I can see now why they don’t have a problem with their props getting fouled all the time. Next was the old arched railway bridgea smallDSCF0194 soon to be followed by a dismantled bridge with just the supporting walls standing in the river now carrying just a pipe. I was expecting bit of a hairy ride at Thrapston arched road bridge but it was easy with the slow flow. We locked down Islip lock and out under the low footbridge, it was a case of bobbing well down and removing the exhaust but otherwise we had loads of room.
Just above Lower Barnwell lock the “Strong steam “ a smallDSCF0196warning was still on display, I think this may have been one they missed, however the level below the lock was still a bit high. About half way down this reach we came upon a bail of strawa smallDSCF0197 floating mid stream right on a bend so I went to the inside of it and pushed it over to the edge by giving it a gentle side swipe as I passed.
We continued sharing with Straw Bear and their little a smallDSCF0191dog all day until after we had done Perio Lock where we discussed mooring arrangements for the night, nether of us were keen on going much further so we decided to stop just above Fotheringhaya smallDSCF0198 bridge for the night so that we could eat at the pub while they were to continue to the moorings just above a smallDSCF0199Warmington lock

Monday 8 October 2012

Monday 8 October 2012 Denford

This morning a chap from the EA turned up to give us the latest information. It seemed that there is 1.55 Mt headroom at Islip footbridge, its nominal clearance is 2.5 Mt. He suggested we ring at about 1 pm for an update. A short time later we noticed that Straw Bear and the cruiser had gone. We took a walk down to the lock to see what state it was the river was lower down. It looked to be at normal level and where we were moored it was down by 10” a smallDSCF0172or more. I marked it at water level on the piling when we arrived.
After discussion with the other two boats we decided to set off with them following about an hour later and we would ring back with information.
So at 1050 we were on our way. There were quite a few canoes from the Outdoor Adventure Centre a smallDSCF0174just below the lock and we were a bit worried about the water flow when we lifted the gate, but their instructor assured us they would be fine and just carry on. The flow below the lock was very slow for about half a mile where another stream joined the river when it picked up a bit until we reached Upper Ringstead lock, after that it was quite gentle until we reached Denford lock where we found Straw Bear and the cruiser  moored above the lock. They had ring ahead and been told not to go any further, there were still 4 boats at Islip lock and no where to moor, so we pulled in beside them. I rang back to the others and they decided to stay at Lower Ringstead lock for the time being. 
After a bit of discussion the cruiser decided to head on down working on the basis that he could moor above Thrapston bridge of if any boats were going down tuck in behind them. This just left the two of us on the lock landing so we singled out.
About 2 pm. another boat came down the river heading for the other side of St Ives. We advised him of the situation and he moored on the lower lock landing before cycling in to Thrapston to look at the situation himself.
When he returned he had the news that the place was still full of boats, the level under the bridge was now 1.7 Mt. and the “Strong Stream” is still in force. The duty EA engineer would lift the strong stream warning in the morning at 8 am. if the bridge clearance was up to 1.8 Mt. so we are all here for the night.