Tuesday 2 November 2021

We do travel at night, sometimes!

 Saturday 30 October RWBC Illuminated Boat Parade (8 miles, 0 locks)

Liana and I were delighted to be able to take part in our club evening event, delayed from September, when we are usually still away boating countrywide. We were all very lucky to hit a window of dry weather, too.

About ten boats travelled the few miles to the lovely moorings by Drakeholes Tunnel on the Chesterfield Canal, where we winded and dressed Annie in Christmas lights and chatted to everyone passing, boaters and gongoozlers alike.

At six o’clock the procession set out back to our clubhouse at Clayworth. John had to concentrate, particularly on the bends and through bridge holes. 

I can’t get the videos to load, for some reason. Hey Ho!

He nearly crashed once, when gongoozlers’ torches were from the offside, not the towpath side! Later we heard that Barry on Lady June and Python had done just the same!

It was a great event, with over a hundred people watching from bridges and walking along the towpath with the boats. We enjoyed a fun chat with fellow members at the clubhouse later, after we had put Annie back to bed.

Monday 18 October 2021

Blacking Annie and going home on the Chesterfield Canal

Friday 15 October  West Stockwith to RWBC Clayworth (10 miles, 4 locks)

We had to postpone a visit to family, sadly, due to their exposure  to Covid.

However, John rang West Stockwith Basin to see if Annie was ready to put back into the water after her blacking. She was, so we hotfooted it there. Annie was high and dry on an articulated lorry trailer, looking good. 

After coming out of the water last Saturday, she has been jetblasted, had three coats of bitumastic applied, and had four new magnesium sacrificial anodes welded on the hull, two at the front near the bowthruster tube and two on the swim at the stern, close to the anodes we had fitted six years ago, which still have a third of their aluminium remaining! Three years ago, we had the four anodes fitted, two  either side, along the hull, one third and two thirds along its length, and these have definitely protected the middle of the hull. They seem to protect the hull best for about two or at most three metres distance, so the eight anodes have done a great job. Now we have twelve on! 

In case you don’t know about anodes, the magnesium dissolves, rather than the iron/steel hull rusting, hence the name sacrificial anodes. The hull looks really good after sixteen years, so it works.

Once in the water, the  Waterside Inn had no cook, so we  drove to the Red Hart at Misterton and had an excellent and filling all you can eat carvery meal. We were full without having seconds! The staff were helpful and welcoming, too. We will go again.

Under cloudy skies, we took our time and enjoyed the scenery. The locks were rather hard work, with some stiff mechanisms. In fact, the last lock, Gringley lock, had one top gate paddle out of action, while Liana could not release the water conservation lock on the offside paddle to operate it, either, even though the CRT key was turning ok! John had to climb up off the boat with a mooring hammer and knock the jammed mechanism open. Liana left it open with some warning tape attached, purloigned from the other u/s paddle.

We reached Clayworth after dusk, with navigation lights on, waving to quite a few of our fellow members, some attending the Retford & Worksop Boat Club committee meeting that evening. It was lovely to see various friendly faces again after our long countrywide journey.

Saturday 16 October RWBC Work Day

We had a lovely evening with our fellow boaters in the RWBC club bar on Friday night, and slept on Annie. This morning we were up bright and early to enjoy the fine weather and take a full part in the club work day. Our online moorings are much cheaper than it would cost in a marina, partly because we save money by doing lots of jobs on the three workdays each year, plus keeping our own mooring tidy, doing bar duty occasionally, etc. This time, Liana and friend Shirl washed all the bar glasses and cleaned the bar area, shelves, etc until they shone. John and Will each had a petrol engine hedge trimmer, and trimmed the half mile of hedge on Clayworth 1, as high and as far back as they could reach! Tom and several other members worked hard to clear and burn all the hedge cuttings. John helped in this after he had finished trimming and had a bacon butty for lunch. There were lots of members working hard, grass cutting, hedging, making post holes, building fences, painting, gardening and sorting out the clubhouse. It really was a great team effort.

Later we had a club meeting for members to decide on a new heating system for the club, using modern heat exchanger technology. As John was bell ringing and attending church early on Sunday, we drove home later.

Sunday 3 October 2021

The Tidal Trent Newark to Torksey and West Stockwith

 Sunday 3 October Newark to Cromwell Lock and Torksey

Today is dry, with clouds amid blue skies, so we got up and headed for Nether Lock, then five miles down the Trent to the tidal lock at Cromwell.

NB Essence came through Newark Nether Lock (appropriate as it’s next to the sewage works!) with us. We travelled five windy miles in the sun, slowing a little for the numerous Sunday anglers on both banks. Passing under the A1 and by North Muskham, John rang Cromwell Lock and spoke to lock keeper Neil again. We motored straight into the lock, followed by NB Essence, who were heading home to Torksey and the Fosse Dyke. John also got telephone numbers for getting our boat hull blacked again at West Stockwith, and had this organised before we left the lock!

Apparently there was four feet of fresh (water) raising the river level today, so we didn’t have to worry about the sandbar below the lock. We were making 6 knots downstream at 1200rpm, without any problem, but slowed a little for fishermen at times. John had got out the Boating Association chart for the Tidal Trent, essential for avoiding shallows and available online. Pearson’s Guides stop at Cromwell. John Lower’s excellent guide book Boating on the Trent is available from the Chesterfield Canal Trust. It explains the tides, too!

The fifteen miles to Torksey include many large and some sharp bends, sunken islands, shallows and bridges, but is beautiful and great to do, as long as you prepare and take the advice of the Cromwell lock keepers. In general, the non-tidal Trent is navigable safely, as long as you keep in the centre of the river, steering closer to the outside on bends, as the inside is always shallower. There are some sandbacks (sunken islands) which are noted in the Boating Association guide mentioned above.

We moored on the pontoon in Torksey cut and walked to the local pub  for Sunday lunch, which was fine. They do excellent pies too, except on Sundays. Books and tv filled our day afterwards.

Monday 4 October Torksey to West Stockwith (15 miles, 1 lock)

Leaving Torksey Cut

John winded Annie and we set off at 0830, as advised. We had been told that high tide was about 0845, so we would be stemming the tide intially, followed by  slack water for a time, before Annie would be taken down more quickly by fresh water current plus ebb tide.

John rang Torksey lock and let them know. Neil was there this morning, and rang ahead to let Jim at West Stockwith Lock know that we would be there about 1130ish.

Past Torksey Castle and railway viaduct, the wind was strong from the west side of the river, but there was no rain, thankfully! At times, the clouds cleared and we had lovely sunshine. The boat's speed picked up to 6 knots with the ebb.

Littleborough Roman Ford


Near West Burton power station, the river's serpentine curves box the compass, and Gainsborough's tall Kerry's flour mill can be seen in various directions. Gainsborough railway viaduct precedes the town.

John aimed Annie through the central arch of Gainsborough's stone bridge, through which the water rushes. The visitor mooring pontoon passes on the town bank. You need a CRT key to get ashore from it.
Once through the town, you have about four miles to go. John rang West Stockwith lock when fifteen minutes away, turned Annie towards the centre of the river as we passed the lock to face the strongish current. It's about half tide, still maybe an hour or so before low water here, so a strong current is running, but you can't wait until then, usually, as at low tide there is not enough water depth to get into the lock! (I did get here at low tide once, and had to wait in the river for most of an hour until the beginnings of the flood tide rose enough for me to get in the lock). 
Approaching West Stockwith Lick from upstream
John honked her horn as the gates weren't open! Jim came running out and soon we were stemming the tide, moving crab fashion slowly towards the lock. at the last few seconds, 

Annie now pointing upstream and edging across to the lock

John gunned the engine and turned into the lock. Oops, we bumped against the downstream side of the lock entrance as we entered, as John miscalculated the strength of the flow. It had to happen, eventually! No damage, and we left Annie in the basin for her hull to be blacked again by Wilf, Debbie and Philip Warne.
Our kind neighbours, Carrie and Scott, brought us home. Thank you!

Friday 1 October 2021

Down the River Trent to Newark

 Friday 1 October Trent Lock through Nottingham to Holme Lock (12 miles, 4 locks)

The forecast was a  good morning, so we were on the river below Cranfleet Lock before 9am, helped by a fellow boater.

Dunkirk veteran Lady Sylvia

The five miles past Thrumpton, Barton Fabis and the Attenborough Nature Reserve has gentle curves, pastures and willows. Beeston sailing club and marina herald Beeston Lock and its weir close by.

We used the services just after the lock. 

The Nottingham & Beeston Canal used to be quiet, but there must be twenty or more boats moored near the lock, plus as many along the straight between bridges 19 and 17.

Once past Boots and Players factories, we soon passed under the ring road and past Trevethick’s Boatyard, where Harry’s NB Lady Lee (ex RWBC) is moored. 

We often stop near Castle Marina, but today we continued through town, where the riverside is redeveloped with lots of new blocks of flats, some for students. The block with weird legs still impressed me! 

We shared Castle Lock with NB Slow Coach. Great name!

Turning right at the Premier Inn, we saw this ahead.

Workmen were fitting pigeon proof wire netting to a newly refurbished canal bridge.

We moored above Meadow Lane lock, then had lunch and shopped in West Bridgford with Flo, Liana’s mum. Liana and Flo have found Jo Jo Maman  Bebe baby shop, so our grandchild Hope has lovely new clothes from Grannie and Great Gran!

Back on Annie, we operated Meadow Lane Lock. This has paddles at each end which need mending, CRT.

Thankfully it was sunny with just a fresh wind on the way down to Holme Pierrepoint National Watersports Centre. We saw a black swan.

We moored at the high concrete wharf, level with Annie’s roof. Please, CRT, consider fitting floating pontoons for narrowboaters to moor more easily and much more safely! Holme Lock is a great place to stop, but take care to avoid bashing your boat on underwater ledges or the wharf side!

Saturday 3 October Holme Pierrepoint to Newark ( 20 miles, 5 locks)

The weather forecast was fair, getting worse in late morning. It did! John lit the fire, first thing. 

We set off through Holme Lock, operating it ourselves. It took ten extra minutes for Liana to get the bottom gates to open, using the new (to us) electric control. She had to reset it.

It was cloudy but pleasant, with little wind, so the two miles or so to Stoke Bardolph Lock was lovely. Surprisingly, both Stoke and Gunthorpe locks were manned (thank you!),  as the computer voice informed us all locks were boater operated when we phoned earlier. 
John rang ahead from Gunthorpe Bridge, and the lock was ready for us.

There were large flocks of greylag and Canada geese in the water meadows around Burton Joyce. 

The river level was not high, but we got swept along by the current at six knots, according to John’s Iphone. After 11am, the rain started, and came down gently most of the time to Newark. 

A half sunken barge preceded Hazelford  Lock, which was like Stoke Lock.

Our first oncoming boat came out of Hazelford Lock.

Liana had three attempts to open the bottom gates before they obliged. John was feeling lonely, stuck for twenty minutes in two huge empty river locks! John picked up Liana from the steps below the lock.

We only saw one oncoming narrowboat all day until nearing Farndon and Newark. 

The Bromley Arms at Fiskerton is a pleasant stop. The power station and Averham Weir are impressive, too. You go past the weir, but keep clear, especially if the current is strong.

There were boats moving near Newark Marina. Town Lock was preceded by moored workboats. CRT could add a pontoon here for narrowboaters, too, and more below the lock.

The rain had intensified, so we were very glad to get moored past the castle, on the wall opposite the CRT offices, as their pontoon had not enough room for Annie. John rang Cromwell Lock, where Neil from Torksey Lock said anytime in the morning to go to Torksey. We booked Sunday lunch in the pub at Torksey.

Pizza Express fed us, thankfully, before we settled down on the boat.