Monday, 8 June 2015

Post lunch on a sandbank

So we have lunched and celebrated our arrival on the sandbank in the Wash and as the tide turns; we came out of Boston on a falling tide and it is now rising to take us in to Wisbech, we prepare to depart.

 Jackie 'O' has been resurrected and joins Amanda on the back of WaL (not sure where Lisa has gone) for a chat about the Greek finances...

 David Lewis, armed with boat shaft, is trying to locate an expensive ladder that has disappeared from WaL's bow.

 Sarah and Andy suitably fed and watered are ready for the off

 The dutch barge that joined us reverses off of the sandbank

 WaL gets stuck but not for long
With the change of tides we got a change of weather, the sun was obscured by a cloud cover and the wind had picked up.  See photo's on Nb. Seyella Blog here for this bit - I think my camera had jammed and I was trying to clean it at this point.
The move of the sand back was a bit shall we say, chaotic. Daryl had briefed 'skippers' about what came next, what they needed to do but the execution was muddled and boats set off in all directions for a few moments before 'pennies dropped' and we were soon playing follow-the-leader again.

Heading down the straight channel of the tidal R. Nene on our way to Wisbech and an overnight mooring.

The crew of this freighter were somewhat bemused by the sight of us as we pass below them

Sutton swing bridge in the distance carrying the A17 trunk road across the river

Seyella and Panacea follow us beneath the span of Sutton bridge

As we approach Wisbech on a fast flowing flood tide we come alongside Nb.What a Lark as per Pilot instruction and raft the two boats. Amanda and I secure the bows running lines back and forth to until we are happy they are secure and David and Lisa are doing the same at the sterns of the boats.

We are to wind (turn) the boats and approach Wisbech in reverse with the bows facing the fast running tide. The turn starts now.

Still turning and being swept into Wisbech

Completing the turn, Joe and David operating the reverse and forward gears on each boat to assist the turn

NB Clarence and Nb. Seyella follow suit and wind there boats to approach their mooring in reverse

Nb.'s Clarence and Seyella proceeding in reverse

Easy as she goes past a 360 degree dredger and a catamaran  and into a berth at the end/start of the Wisbech harbour.
We had to wait for two hours for the incoming tide reach 'slack water' before we turned the boats again so that it would be easier to get away in the morning.  After that operation was completed it was time for guests to be ferried back to their cars to start their journey's home.  It had been a very long day and bed was calling so after everyone had left it was a lovely hot shower and bed!
The next morning I was up at should have been 5am but what's a hour when you can't tell the time?
Joe was forgiving.
With instructions from the pilot, and the lockkeeper at the tidal lock at the Dog in a Doublet, to leave between six and six thirty we were up and away, waving to David and Lisa as they untied us and we escaped with their boat strapped to Yarwood.

David unties the rafted boats.
The advice from the pilot was we needed power and steering from both boats to make our way through Wisbech and boy did we.

Making our way carefully through Wisbech with about a tea cup of water beneath the baseplate. The tide was still running against us and we began to think our timing was all wrong but the experts had said....
I think the timing was all wrong and we could safely have left at least an hour later but hey ho. We got stuck, fortunately just out of sight of David and Lisa, and not matter what we tried could make no headway. Waving through Nb. Clarence and their passing pushed a little water under us and a foot or three of progress was achieved. Same with Panacea and Seyella and every foot by foot we progessed through Wisbech.  Out into open countryside the sky turned black and the heavens opened and deluged us and sent lightening rods into the ground around us. The camera and self got soaked.

Arriving at the Dog in a Doublet lock they were awaiting us and we were waved in. The use of a shoe horn was required to get out 14' wide by 70' long 'raft' into the lock but we did it with everyone's cooperation.

Guillotine gate it going to miss the tiller???

We sat in the lock for an hour while we were all quizzed about registration numbers, home addresses and our boat licence status. Then those that needed facility keys for Environment Agency waters and /or licences were invited up to the office for their purchases.  Joe also blagged a tour from Ann of Viator the dutch barge and was very impressed.   I suspect that if their is ever going to be another boat it might be something like that.

Heading along the final stretch into Peterborough behind the rest of the convoy
The trip has been everything and more than I anticipated.  The dynamics of the group of boaters that set out together to share this adventure has been the 'icing on the cake' and their comradeship has been invaluable.  The cruise up through Nottingham and the Trent, all new waters for Joe and myself, on to the Fossdyke and the R. Witham has been very enjoyable and we will come this way again. And the crossing of the Wash..great, delighted to have done it and impressed with how well Yarwood handled the choppy blue stuff.  
The run in Wisbech and then on to Peterborough was less enjoyable but it was a means to an end because we are now on the R. Nene and ready to savour the joys of cruising this lovely waterway.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

All Washed up and half way there

It's Thursday and it has dawned beautifully sunny and windless for our crossing of the Wash.  A WhatsAp message goes around the group of  'Washers' to say we will start off for the lock at 9.15 in the order we go into the lock.  

 Nb. What a Lark is first into the lock so of they go, we are next so just casting off to follow them down to the Grand Sluice Lock

 Following WaL into the Lock

 Nb. Clarence follows us down and he will slip in between WaL and Yarwood

 Joe and Derek getting Nb. Clarence secured to Yarwood's stern

 I think Lisa is getting her husband David slavered in sun block

Sarah and Andy and Ship's dog Floyd on the tug deck anticipating the opening of the lock gates.  No sun block for this rufty-tufty pair but our guests looked a bit more 'ruddy' at the end of the trip!

 Clarence leads off followed by What a Lark

After 30 minutes waiting in the lock for the tidal Witham to reach the level of the non tidal river the gates are opened and we have two and half minutes to get out before they are closed again, no time to dither about then.

We are  now on the tidal stretch of The Haven and about to pass under St. Boltoph's tower

 Looking back towards the lock Seyella and Panacea have followed us out

 Andy and Floyd check out some of the commercial boats tied against the haven walls

We were warned to expect quite a 'race' as the tide narrows through the swing bridge

 Here comes Nb Seyella with Mags and Geoff - Where's you hat Mags?
A fishing boat overtakes us
Sarah takes the helm while Joe fiddles with the marine radio

 Here we are out of the Haven and into the Wash.  Just a smidgen of turbulence and then calm again.  The tea shirts have been supplemented with sweat shirts as the wind is cooling of the coast but conditions are perfect.

 Seyella making a photo op
Geoff and Margaret
 Nb. What a Lark takes the lead of the convoy, they had Daryl our Pilot aboard, Nb Clarence drops back to number two boat as we play follow-the-leader.

 A lovely elegant motor yacht ...the crew were very interested in the convoy of five ditch crawlers....or was it a mirage?

 The weather conditions were conducive to a beaching on a sandbank for lunch. WaL turns 90 degrees and takes her bow on to the sandbank followed by Clarence.

 WaL is aground and Clarence follows suit

 Now we start the turn

 NB Panacea turning in to beach

 Amanda capturing the moment from WaL's cabin top

 Derek talking to the Pilot

 Lots of these about

 Here we be, five narrowboats beached on a sandbank in the Wash

 The dogs were beside themselves with glee, Floyd and Fletcher were swimming, Meg was paddling.


 Got It!

David Lewis, Derek and Sheila enjoy a celebratory glass of fizz! The smiles say it all.
The food came out and the beers, ,tea, whatever the requirement, and a happy band wandered about and paddling of just sat and talked.  So far it had been a brilliant experience and the weather had blessed us.
The boats had behaved really well considering the environment they are designed.
From Sandbank to Wisbech harbour tomorrow.