Friday 29 January 2016

Blown down the River Trent to West Stockwith

29 January 2016 Blown homewards!

Despite good balloon fenders, the very strong wind moved Annie about on the pontoon below Cromwell Lock.
The plan arrived at, talking to the excellent Cromwell Lock Keepers, Chris and Sean, was to arrive at Torksey three hours later, at 10AM, then wait there 90 minutes until after flood at Torksey, then travel down to West Stockwith, arriving about 2PM.

swinging downstream with the current before casting off the stern rope

nav lights on!

We could see - honestly!

We set off in the pre-dawn half-light, letting the current turn Annie with just the stern rope attached (we normally moor with bow pointing upstream). With navigation lights on, we headed down river the fifteen miles to Torksey.

... by the light of the silvery moon! ...

Did you know that the unused Besthorpe gravel extraction wharf still has lights at night?

Luckily, the strong wind was usually behind us, but our steering arms still got plenty of exercise today. It's ok having a powerful engine, but wind and higher revs make your muscles grow!

... no charge to pass UNDER Dunham Bridge!

Annie and Liana waiting for the tide to turn at Torksey

At Torksey, we chatted to the lock keeper, confirmimg our plans. We were ready for a cuppa around the stove. He encouraged us by saying that most people hit the wall at West Stockwith ..... :/

site of Roman ford at Littleborough

near Knaith

West Burton Power Station

Gainsborough Bridge

The wind abated a little on the way to Gainsborough and the sun came out. There are some pretty reaches of the river along here - but watch that S bend with the concrete sand bags that are 10 metres out from the inside of the bends, some just under the surface! We use the old (I prefer this)  and new photographic versions of the Boating Association Chart 2 and John Lower's guide as guidance on the Tidal Trent.
This time, we contacted West Stockwith by VHF (crackly) and mobile as we passed Gainsborough moorings, and were advised to push on to West Stockwith, which we did.
John turned Annie to face  upstream against the current after we passed the lock, then approached keeping about twenty metres off the bank until almost there, John watching for directions from the lock keeper, who stands at the lock entrance to help. Finally, when level with the lock and about five metres out, a sharp turn and burst of power let Annie turn into the lock entrance and out of the current without scraping her side - hooray! We always fit longer ropes for rivers, but here we get lowered down their own ropes to hang on to. A (folding?) cleat / T stud near to the cratch might be handy here (we have seen a couple of boats with these fitted), helping the crew at the bow to avoid drifting as water rushes in as you rise in the lock.
Anyway, we were allowed to leave Annie at the visitors moorings in the basin, safe and sound.
Moor on the pontoon if you need to stop in Gainsborough - but moor against the current.

North of Gainsborough
Annie in West Stockwith basin

The wind from behind was blowing John's hat off - hence the yellow hood!

"To infinity and beyond! - or at least, from Newark to Cromwell Lock ...

28 January 2016 Through Newark at last!

After John's knee pre op interview in Lincoln, we finally passed through Newark Town Lock, after waiting since October!
Leaving Town Lock at last!

Newark Castle
 The workers and fences were gone, locals could cross the lock again and the Lock Keeper saw us and had the CRT crew clear the work boat from the lock so we could pass.
Liana took the car to Nether Lock while I took Annie past the Castle and Marina.
about to pass under the Newark Bypass

Nether Lock is just around the corner

Moored above Nether Lock, waiting for Brayford Belle

Brayford Belle, the Lincoln trip boat coming to Newark for pre-season work, passed Annie at Nether Lock.
The sky was moody, the wind was breezy on the way to Cromwell Lock. We had to get there in time for a 7AM start next day.
Liana operating Nether Lock. You need a CRT key.

leaving Newark Nether Lock - the one near the sewage works  :/

5 miles to Cromwell Lock - but first, under the A1

The Ferryboat pub

We like to moor here, above the lock, but had to move.

After mooring up above the lock, we saw Sean and moved through the lock before he left for the night, so we could leave early and catch the tide. You cannot operate Cromwell Lock yourself, as it is the tidal lock on the Trent: Always talk to the lock keepers!
entering Cromwell Lock before dusk

the pontoon below Cromwell Lock

Friday 22 January 2016

From Nottingham to Newark

Thur 21 January 2016 Lowering skies and CRT confusion!
(Lincolnshire folk know that "Lowering" means heavy clouds darkening the sky!)

Having rung CRT today on 03030 404040 after being redirected from the Newark office by a computer voice, we were assured that the Trent was fully open. Yvonne, the nice lady, even rang us back to confirm this, as I asked her to - but I was still doubtful, even though there was nothing shown in Stoppages, apart from a bit of building at Holme Lock.
No sun today, unfortunately! Cycling back along the towpath to the boat from Liana's mum's near Trent Bridge, we moved down to Meadow Lane Lock and onto the Trent. The canal is looking trendier each time we pass by, these days.
Rejuvenating the Nottingham waterfront

Meadow Lane Lock and Trent Bridge

Crew have a decent pontoon on the river

The City Ground, beloved off Nottingham Forest fans. I went there during the Brian Clough glory days with Liana's dad, Eddie, a season ticket holder.
 The deeper water let us press on to Holme, Stoke Bardolph, Gunthorpe and Hazleford Locks. Local CRT staff were around on a "Task Day", and helped us through two locks, telling us that they thought the Cromwell Weir was still not fixed. We think messages were passed, as Cheryl from Newark phoned later, confirming this and saying we could moor above the Town Lock at Newark, as long as we were not in the way of operations.
Moral: Listen to the local CRT staff (while there are any!).
More new building on the riverside

Don't mess with the Sea cadets!

Approaching Holme Lock - watersports on right, weir and building work on left

entrance to white water rapids beyond striped posts

Some large boats were moored above Holme Lock


John dressed to be warm(ish) and dry
The river cliffs at Radcliffe on Trent

Gunthorpe Lock. Amber means you operate it yourself. You need a CRT key.

The pontoon is a little exposed to the current when picking up crew ...

Stopping at Fiskerton for Liana to catch a train to retrieve the car, we had a quick pint and coffee, respectively, at the Bromley Arms. Notice the mud still on the steps. 


John carried on past Farndon Marina and the impressive power station and weir onto Newark Dyke, mooring in a secure area above the lock - so secure that he had to put nav lights and headlight on and cross the cut to pick up Liana when she arrived!
The new power station

Newark Church in sight!

Passing Newark Marina in the dusk

Next morning we were able to get someone to unlock a gate so we could leave the boat until the river is open - next Tuesday, they say ....... :/
Secure mooring above Newark Town Lock

This is what's missing at Cromwell Weir!