Sunday 31 March 2013

Easter Sunday 31 March 2013 Stretham Steam Pump House

Even with the clocks changing we managed to be away by 10-30 am. I was sunny and didn’t feel anywhere near as cold as the last few days, even though there was ice in the reed fringe but the temperature actually got above 7°C for a short time. We had 2 cruisers moor ahead of us last night, so I went up through the bridge before winding, to be well away from them. Not long after leaving the Lark they both overtook us.

We turned left onto the Gt Ouse and made our way to Ely. Due to the bends in the river the railway line actually crossed the river twice before you get to the town. The first crossing is at Adelaide where there is major work going on from a floating scaffold. a PhotoDSCF1229I am not sure that the warning signs are truly CEVNI approved, but I may well be wrong, also I didn’t speed up as instructed. a PhotoDSCF1223 We stopped in Ely to take on water and the Willow Man who use to moor at the Fish and Duck was moored at what some people consider to be a winding hole, but from what I have heard its a piece of no-mans land so there is no mooring restriction on it. a PhotoDSCF1230 Once full of water we continued through the town and headed to Popes Corner, the site of the redeveloped Fish and Duck moorings. a PhotoDSCF1235  a PhotoDSCF1240





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We then continued up the Old West River a short way before mooring on the EA moorings. This was so I could tackle some of the rust that is now coming through on that side. The worst spots are where the white line is cut in and a bit above a porthole. a PhotoDSCF1247

 a PhotoDSCF1246  I sanded these down using a random orbital sander but it gave up the ghost half way through with the pad disintegrating, I have only had it 15 years. Anyway once the area was sanded and treated with Kurerust we were on our way again to Stretham Steam pumping house.

The GOBA moorings have now been moved and you can moor right outside the pump house.
This is the only remaining, completed steam engine and Fen drainage pump of this type in existence. It was in use until 1925 and still on standby in 1941. Unfortunately it is no longer steamed but rotated by an electric motor. All three boilers are still there and she use to burn a ton of coal per hour with just one fireman.

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It was later replaced with a 4 cylinder diesel engine driving a centrifugal pump. You will see that each cylinder has its on crank lubrication system.

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We will now stay moored here for the night.


Saturday 30 March 2013

Saturday 30 March 2013 Prickwillow

Last night I forgot to mention the DesRes that has been erected for the bats on the side of Well Creek.a smallDSCF1203 I am guessing this was put up by the MLC as they do a lot for wildlife, Otter Holts with piped TV, owl boxes at every pumping station and some with bat boxes as well, but this is the biggest bat box I have seen.
We woke this morning to bright sunshine, I looked out and the icing sugar fairy had been out scattering sugar on the cut.a smallDSCF1208

As we sit here waiting for the tide I walked gown to the lock to peep at the river, it was well up with a good half an hour to go before high tide so it will be well on the way down before we can get out, probably 6 foot or so. You can just see the top of the handrails on the concrete bank edge.a smallDSCF1211

We finally cleared Salter’s Lode at but as you can see by the clearance above the boat we couldn’t have got out any sooner, even so we waited an hour and a quarter for the level to subside.a smallDSCF1214 Needless to say as soon as we pushed off to enter the lock it started to snow, however once out on the river it was like a spring day with the cold breeze behind us. We met a boat coming down the river who was heading for Salter’s Lode so the lock was sitting open ready for him. You can see the height  of those handrails nowa smallDSCF1215Thanks to the dredging work that has been carried out recently we were able to sail straight into Denver lock. With so much water in the river there is no sign of the sandbank so I hope the 3 Fox’s Narrowboats behind us get in OK, last year one of them was on the bank 3 trips in a row and the steering skill of a couple of them coming along Well Creek left something to be desired.

Once on the none tidal Ouse we made our way to the River Lark, on the way we passed a couple of fishermen getting set up at Little Port.a smallDSCF1219 We made our way up the Lark to moor for the night at Prickwillow by the pumping museum.

Friday 29 March 2013

Friday 29 March 2013 Salter’s Lode

By the time we turned in last night I wasn’t feeling to good with a thick bunged up head and a good start to a cold.
Sometime after midnight we could hear the revellers singing away as they crossed the bridge, good move not mooring with the stern under the footbridge. To cap it all we had moored in the bottom of a Rookery and I had no idea they could make so much noise, the didn’t even wait for dawn to make a start, it was worse than foxes calling to each other at night, so all in all not the best nights sleep.

This morning we wandered down to see Joe on NB Yarwood who was moored at the far end of the town moorings.

We pushed off in bright warm sunshine at about 1030 am. but it almost instantly turned to a snow shower but didn’t last long and the sun returned. In the shelter of the town it was quite pleasant but once out into open country the cold wind took over from everything. I gave Maureen at Marmont Priory lock a ring as we passed the 20 foot river just before the wind farm and left a message on her answerphone. When we arrived at her lock Diana rang the bell and started to work the lock, but it wasn’t longa smallDSCF1201 before Maureen appeared and helped us through, which was handy as she told me there were three boats coming from Salter’s.  We met the first one just before the bridge it Upwell and I held back for him, the second was on the straight but the third I was half way through the bridge by Upwell Church before I saw him coming the other way, so he had to stop and pull over to let me out. At least we didn’t meet one under the bridge at Outwell which is on quite a bend.

One of the houses at Upwell has a good store of firewood ready for next winter, all he has to do is split and store it. He has even used some as a foundation for his shed.a smallDSCF1202

Its been a good day for spotting Kingfishers and we saw a pair on a branch near Marmont Priory Lock. The lower one is side on and doesn’t show up so well.DSCF1197We arrived at Salter’ Lode lock about twenty past three, almost 5 hours after leaving March and moored on the lock landing ready for the morning. We will see Paul, the lock keeper later when he takes his dogs for a walk. It is slightly warmer now with a temperature of 4°C outside and a pleasant 26°C her inside

Thursday 28 March 2013

Thursday28 March 2013 March Moorings

We finally arrived at the boat after having been diverted for the last leg of the journey because of road closures.
Once everything was unpacked and we had had a bite of lunch Diana set off in the car for our new moorings on the Little Ouse, I in turn went to find June the owner of Floods Ferry to return our gate pass. I then set off alone towards March. a smallDSCF1187 There was still a bit of snow about on the banks and ice in the reed fringe, to say it was cold would be an understatement.

When I arrived in March there were already several boats moored and to avoid mooring with our stern under the town bridge I decided to stop just short of the bridge by the library.There were still a few duck eggs by the new Middle level Waterman’s Club moorings, but not so many as last time so someone must be picking them up.a smallDSCF1189

Diana had arranged to meet Graham from Matilda Rose at the little Ouse moorings and travel back to March with him, they are moored on the park moorings. This meant that we could have the car parked at the new moorings for when we arrive. 
They arrived back in March about half an hour after I arrived complete with a sack of coal which Graham even delivered for me before we toddled off to Matilda Rose for tea and a warm up, its still only 18° on Harnser.

Thursday 21 March 2013

Thursday 21 March 2013 Floods Ferry

We woke to a morning of no wind and sun trying to break through. I read on the net last night that a boat was booked out of Denver on Saturday so I rang Denver Sluice to check the situation. The reply I received was that they were officially opening on the 28th March, yes they were going to try to lock a 66ft boat out to go across to Salter’s Lode but it was not 100% certain that they would succeed. If I turn up they would lock me in but I would do it at my own risk, so we will wait until the 28th.

On the strength of this and the weather forecast for the rest of the week we decided to head back home.
As we pulled away from the mooring I took a photograph back under Three Holes Bridge to show the exact location of the moorings.

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As the day progressed the wind freshened slightly and by lunchtime was quite cool. The wind had turned through 90° from yesterday and was much pleasanter.

As we passed through March we saw their latest residents, 7 white geese who have decided to make their home on the river bank just below the Kashmir Balti House Indian restaurant. We stopped for a chat in the town with some boaters we know before doing the last hour back to our moorings.a smallDSCF1186

On our way home we called in at Little Ouse Moorings to pay our dues and collect a key to the gate, all we need to do now is to work out the logistics of moving both the boat and the car from the Middle Level to the Little Ouse.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Three Holes Village

When the weather improved we decided to leap ashore, well we are 500-700mm from the quayside. The steps have been set into the bank, but there is no handrail yet and the top bank is all mud.a smallDSCF1176 Once on the road we crossed the bridge and passed the village a smallDSCF1171sign that depicts the old Three Holes bridge that crossed this  drain before it was widened and was part of the Sixteen Foot drain. The village got its name from the bridge that had three arches or holes in it. You can still see the old approach road to where the bridge use to be just to the right of the sign, the new bridge and road is to the left of the sign.
The old junction between the Sixteen Foot Drain and Popham’s Eau is about 300 mts. to the stern of our boat and Popham’s Eau use to run behind the now closed, Red Hart public house then cross under the main road just to the left of it. You can just see the bridge railings in this photograph.a smallDSCF1174a smallDSCF1172I mentioned in my last blog the famous garage with the most expensive petrol and diesel in the country, today petrol was 161.9p/lt and diesel  163.9 p/lt that is between 15 & 19 p/lt more than I have seen anywhere else in the area. The place looked pretty closed up when we passed but the sign did say open.

The village also has a shop/post office that is open until 9pm in the evening, that is directly across the road from the moorings. They have a post box outside the door. There is also a regular bus service to Wisbech via Outwell and Upwell.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Yesterday I posted about an Essex fitting leaking and have had enquiries as to what they are. Basically they are a fitting that you can put in the side of a tank and then connect a pipe to. The whole thing can be assembled from outside the tank, The reason I fitted two of these was to have the water heating coil in the Dickinson stove thermosiphoning hot water through the cylinder.

As we returned to the  boat last night after having an Indian Meal at the Shah Jahan the cars were covered in frost and the sky was crystal clear, how different to this morning when we woke to rain and snow. This was after first being woken by the swans and ducks tapping on the boat and one even tapping on the mushroom vent on the roof.
We didn’t set off until 11am. we waited until the rain stopped, but as we cast off it started to snow, but soon this turned to rain, it was cold and the wind was starting to freshen. By the time we reached Popham’s Eau it had stopped raining but was feeling decidedly cooler in the breeze now we had lost the shelter of the town, I started to wonder why we were here.
We turned right down Popham’s Eau which was slightly moor sheltered as the wind was at right angles to us so the high banks gave a bit of protection. At the end of Popham’s Eau is the village of Three Holes, this village is quite famous for having the most expensive petrol and diesel in the Country. Three Holes is also the junction of three waterways, Popham’s Eau, The Sixteen Foot Drain and the Main Level Drain, we turned left under the road bridge and went about 200 Mts. down the Mail Level Drain to the new public moorings that have just been installed by the Middle Level Commissioners and paid for by the Inland Waterways Association.a smallDSCF1162The moorings are not very long but there is a post set into the Drain bed a short way each side of the moorings so that 2 or more boats can use the moorings at once by mooring one end of the boat to the post and the other end to the jetty. Two 60ft Narrrowboats can moor like this with ease. The problem we found is that we can’t get the bows close in to the jetty as the water is not deep enough.a smallDSCF1165 I don’t know how cruisers will fair with there rounder bilge, they may well be OK, it will depend on their total draft, we only draw about 22” at the bow.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Tuesday 19 March 2013 March Park moorings

On our way to the boat we called in at Denver Sluice to see how work was progressing and if they had started locking boats through yet.

The work is well on with a reasonable channel cut through the sandbank in line with the lock mouth. a smallDSCF1144 We were hoping that once they reached this stage they would start locking boats through, but it seems we are going to have to wait until the 28 of the month at the earliest. Both the floating landing stages are floating once again, but to dredge in front of the lock they have breasted them up and moved them downstream, so they are effectively blocking the access channel to the lock. The ADC  bulldozer boat is running downstream from the landing stage and then dragging back up towards it. The tide looked pretty full when we were there with only the top of the bank visible so its hard to say what the underwater profile is at the moment.  I did shoot some video of it working which I have uploaded to YouTube

We continued on to the boat and proceeded to load up having now discounted a trip to Brandon Creek this time. We were just about to leave when I noticed water on the bathroom floor. A bit of investigation led us to the Essex pipe fitting in the hot water cylinder dribbling, these are quite large across the flats but luckily I have a spanned ground out to fit them, I managed to tighten it by two flats, but at least the leak stopped.

We pushed off to moor at March for the night the only things of note on the way was someone hedge hopping the power lines a smallDSCF1146and a few Kingfishers wising along the river bank.DSCF1147  about an hour later pulled into the newer moorings by the park, this tends to be quieter at night than the town mooring.

March park now boasts a gym in the park with a gym traila smallDSCF1150 consisting of green pipe structures where you can do pull ups etc. if you are that way inclined even a step and cycle machine.a smallDSCF1152

There is very little progress at the new Middle Level Waterman’s moorings other than a boundary fence, a flag pole that is not upright and a rather nice brick based plaque a smallDSCF1158

Thursday 7 March 2013

Thursday 7 March 2013

We had a very quiet night on our home moorings, its a lovely spot and we will miss it when we move on next month.

This morning while Diana was topping up the water tank and loading the car I had the rocker cover off the engine to check the tappet clearance. This has to be done cold and I don’t like doing any maintenance while we are out, just in case anything goes wrong. Would you service your car on a motorway car park part way through a journey? Anyway 5 of the tappets were a bit slack and one inlet was a bit tight, I managed to adjust the tight one but I couldn’t move the others and I didn’t want to risk breaking anything.

We drove home first via Salters Lode to look at the state of the lock and were very pleased by what we found. Work was going on at quite a pace clearing the silt. They are using a bulldozer boat that pushes the silt out of the lock mouth down the channel where it is lifted out by a Back Hoe dredger.a smallDSCF1109 http://www.adceastanglia.co.uk/News/Silt-Pusher

The Dozer boat winches its self forward pushing the silt by the use of a cable attached to the dredger arm. As you can see the tide is quite low by the wooden rails with a good depth of water. When they have finished here they will move upstream to Denver sluice and start clearing there.

After a good chat with Paul the lock keeper we headed of round to Denver Sluice, its only half a mile by boat but by road its five miles. After having lunch at Jenyns Arms we looked at the situation in front of Denver Sluice. They have started to move the spoil away from the last time they dredged to make room for the next lot. a smallDSCF1113 The silt build up is quite sever now with the entrance to the lock  is now completely blocked for anything other than small boat that can turn round the face of the sluicesa smallDSCF1110

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Wednesday 6 March 2013 Floods Ferry

Well it looks like the summer is over, 10AM this morning the fishermen were back around the bow of the boat and as we pushed off it was drizzling, It did stop after a about an hour but the sun didn’t mange to break through.  We arrived at Stanground lock about 15 minutes early and Tina was opening the gates for us at 11AM. There was a bit of delay getting through as something was jamming the top gate half open so she had to deploy her grappling hook to clear it.
We had a steady run down Kings Dyke and all the way to Whittlesey. The lock was against us so I moored outside the leisure Centre and while Diana nipped into town I set the lock, as soon as she returned we were on our way. a smallDSCF1096 I think the level below the lock may even have been a bit lower than when we came up on Sunday so we had a mile or so on tick over until things improved.   Once past Angle Corner we were on wide deep water and were able to get back to normal cruising speed. The strange ting was that for the entire journey we have seen very few fish but in the last half mile we had a dozen Pike break the surface as we travelled along. We returned to out home moorings at about 3.30PM felling much colder than we did yesterday at 6PM.

As we were back on the mooring in good time we decided to take the car and see how work was progressing at Marmont Priory Lock, all looked well and in working order with no sign of notices, barriers or stop planks. We came back via Three Holes to see if we could see the new moorings, they also look complete on the left hand bank after passing under the road bridge, so we will have a closer look next time out. If you do come this way by car make sure you have sufficient diesel, its £1 65p a lt. at the moment at the local garage. The next stop on our way back to the boat was Benwick where the council are replacing the foot bridge. This is shown as a Navigation Stoppage on the Middle Level Commissioners' web site, but it looked very passable with scaffolding under the old bridge so reduced headroom. You can see the red netting they have draped across to act as a height gauge. The photos is fussy as the light was getting very poor by the time we visited.a smallDSCF1106 We will also check that out next time we come this way.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Tuesday 5 March 2013 Peterborough Rowing Lake

Last night dinner was taken at The Boat House which was quite enjoyable. a smallDSCF1061

Overnight the temperature dropped to –2.5°C and this morning there was ice around the edge of the bay even though we are only just off the river.a smallDSCF1060
Looking out shortly before leaving we found we had a group of fishermen on the moorings near the bows.

We eased out without disturbing their fishing at 10 AM and headed back downstream to the town where we moored in the lay-by behind NB.Indulgence and made our way into the town for the day. It was like a late spring day with bright sun and very little wind and temperatures above 16°C.
We did a small amount of shopping, a pair of bootlaces and then headed off to the Cathedral for the morning. Lunch main course with wine was taken at Pizzaexpress which is housed in a rather

PizzaExpress grand old building, but we went to  Patisserie Valerie for coffee and dessert.
The afternoon was spent at the Peterborough Vivacity museum which houses of of the very few original hospital operating theatres complete with floor to ceiling white tiles. If was one of the first hospitals to use anaesthetics and antiseptics.   
After returning to Harnser we pushed of at about 5PM just after the plumber arrived to mend the tap that flew off yesterday, the only problem was he didn’t have a key to the enclosure.
No sooner had we pushed off than looking back I spotted a seal swimming in the river. I don’t know how often seals get this far up the river. Unfortunately he kept diving and we were some way from him next time he surfaced for me to take a photo. a smallDSCF1067We carried on back upstream back to the Rowing Lake to moor for the night. When we arrived there were several fishermen spread out along the moorings but some of them just packing up, so we tucked in right on the end and then moved onto the straight once they had left.a smallDSCF1072 We were treated to a beautiful sunset as the sun dropped down below the rowing course.   

Monday 4 March 2013

Mon 4 March 2013 Peterborough Rowing Lake

Last night was not a bad night at all, the Leisure Centre didn’t have all the outside yellow lights on and there didn’t appear to be many trains running.
However this morning things changed. We had booked a passage through Stanground Lock for 1 PM. so that meant we didn’t need to set off until 11 AM so a lay in was in order. About 6 30 AM the trains started and the birds were singing, but I got passed that, then some time before 9 AM there was a knock on the side of the boat, I went and opened the hatch wrapped in a towel to find a lady boater stand there. They had entered Ashline lock from below with their Narrowboat and because they didn’t have a Middle Level windlass they were stuck, could we lend them one, which of course we did.
It turned out they only bought the boat in March yesterday and were taking it back to London as a project boat. They had spoken to the EA and were told if that they didn’t intend to close the Nene Locks until first thing Tuesday morning, so they were in with a good chance. They also were booked through Stanground at 1 PM and were pushing straight on to there.
Diana wandered off into town while I did a few odds and ends around the boat and at 11 AM we pushed off. One day I will get round the Whittlesey bend in one go, but not today.a smallDSCF1042

By now the sun was actually shining and in the course of the day the temperature climbed up to nearly 14°C but it actually felt cooler than yesterday due to a bit of breeze.

We arrived at Stanground about quarter to one and Tina was waiting to meet us. “Blossom” the boat ahead of us had just gone out. Not only did they not have a windlass they didn’t have any decent ropes and their outboard engine kept cutting out.a smallDSCF1049

First job after leaving the lock was to call in at the boatyard for diesel where we took on 90 Lt. at 94p/Lt. It was a case of backing in to a stern on mooring with the bows half way across the channel, but with very little flow on or wind just there it wasn’t a problem.

Once on the Nene we stopped for lunch followed by a free pump-out. Since the pump-out has been replaced it is really fast with a good suction, however it did result in me having to get completely changed after we had finished. This was not due to what you are probably thinking but due to the tap coming off the rinse hose. The rinse hoses are not just a bit of hose, but 22mm copper feeding a 3/4” fire reel. When I closed the ball valve feeding the reel it blew straight off the end of the copper pipe sending a 22mm fountain up inside the enclosure and the only way I could stop it was to push the valve back on the end of the copper pipe. It came off 3 times while I was trying to retighten the nut on the bottom to make it nip the pipe, so I was a bit damp. I sorted it in the end and rang Peterborough Council so they can send someone to refit it properly.a smallDSCF1053

After changing cloths  it was a bit of retail therapy in town. On the way back we looked at The Grain Barge a floating Chinese restaurant but it didn’t look very inviting. Returning to the boat we cast off and headed to the rowing lake for the night arriving about 5 PM to find all the moorings deserted.a smallDSCF1055