Down By The River O

On Sunday morning, we looked at the forecast. Our next plan was to get on to the tidal part of the Trent. This involved phoning ahead to book with lock keepers. We were pleased Cromwell lock said we could go on Monday as Tuesday was a rainy day. He said no problem but we should book the following lock ahead too. That was also no problem, apart from spelling out Bartimaeus.

I then had a phonecall from my friend Margaret about booking trains and dates to visit later this month. Shane has been communicating with Gail also planning a visit later in the month. If you go down the tidal Trent, life jackets are required, but there are side canals to explore too, so either experience is possible in the next few weeks for guests depending on their desires. While Shane sent an email about travel arrangements, I had a last look round the castle gardens. There was a wedding taking place there and they had a lovely day for it.

We didn’t have very far to travel. Shane was down in the engine room looking at the bilges and called me to watch the outside while he was sweeping water towards the pump. He had treated a possible block and was pleased to hear me say water was squirting out steadily. That was one less thing to worry about when heading towards the tide.

We set off after lunch. Shane had noticed a family of swans where the cygnets were not all the same colour. They had been hanging around our mooring and I got a better look at them after I had cast off. Also after I had cast off a branch that had snapped off the tree as Shane turned the boat round. The swans must have distracted him as he normally spins round without a graze of the bank, with inches to spare.

Pale and dark grey cygnets

On the river I have left almost all the driving to Shane and that isn’t giving me any more experience. It wasn’t a windy day so the conditions were better to let me helm a bit without worrying too much. I still felt more comfortable being in my usual position at the front at the lock so as Newark Nether Lock was not far away, he drove. I did the job of phoning ahead so they could be ready for our arrival and that worked well. Another boat had popped out of a marina so I let him know we were behind it.

All went smoothly and later I did drive until we reached the mooring just before the next lock when I said I would rather he turned the boat in the river next to the weir and slot the boat into a narrow space at a jetty, that was slightly shorter than the boat. Two other boaters were calling and waving us in. We got moored up. Our nose against a ramp and the back hanging off the back of the jetty. Then we headed up to see the lock keeper to get charts and discuss when we were leaving again. He was very happy to show us what to watch for in the charts and to show us his lock control panel.

We went back to the boat. Shane was looking again at the ropes and mentioned they were a trip hazard and we walked down to the back. I stepped over the ropes with care but before I knew it my foot had slipped off the edge. In the split second as I plunged into the Trent, I had time to think, ‘oh good I am right beside a ladder to get out of the water’ and managed to slow the fall slightly and grabbed for the ladder quickly, my phone held aloft. Shane was able to process that I was already safe almost before he had time to react to the fall. I put the phone on the jetty and told Shane to make sure that was safe while I climbed out. He went to fetch a towel and asked if I wanted clothes while I dripped on the self draining deck. As falls in the river go, it couldn’t have happened in a safer spot and the water wasn’t even cold. No swimming was required, which is just as well as that is not my forte.

Clare dripping on the deck

Shane put the hot water on and so I had an unscheduled shower and hair wash. Then we ran the washing machine. Bruises would appear gradually but I knew I had got off lightly and Shane thinks that the place I had slipped looked to be the same place he had back in November. We rarely step there and perhaps should do something to roughen it up.

We had a good a few chats with the boater next to us and had we had a good look at the charts so Shane felt confident of the things to watch out for. Strangely he was having difficulty with his phone switching itself off. It was damp inside the back cover so he had to dry it out, but has no idea when it got wet. Mine was fine!

In the morning it was sunny, and we took the washing out the back to dry, as we were not going to leave until 11.30 or so. The lock keeper came down to chat to us.

Towels and other washing drying off on the rear deck. Stern overhanging the jetty where I fell and rescue ladder

We got a green light and after reacting smartly and getting our life jackets on, we found the lock was being operated for a cruiser on its own. We hovered until the lock gates opened and went in to the lock to be joined by two other narrow boats.

We were off. Immediately we left the lock, the danger of sandbanks was evident but we had our chart book telling us where all the shallow parts were and there were kilometer signs all the way.

Sandbank and fast water coming over the weir behind us just at the exit to the lock

The charts were aerial photos of the route all the way and all landmarks were pointed out and a suggested path through the water shown. Shane felt very comfortable driving with his maps and he had dried his phone out and was fully functional, so could even double check our position in that. There were landmarks and a warning to give way to gravel boats at this point. There were no gravel boats but we could see where they fill up.

Gravel boat docking and loading point.

Mostly the view was prettier than that with cows, sheep and lambs in the fields. Herons, egrets, oyster catchers and some more cows in the shallows.

Following another boat made it even easier to feel we were taking the right line and the boat behind was mainly in sight too when we weren’t just round a big bend. We met some coming the other way .

Meeting boats coming up the tidal Trent

I made lunch and Shane was able to drive and eat easily enough. In the afternoon I did drive for a spell, going under some of the two of the rare bridges. They are very wide arches but still there are instructions about which to take. Shane got a rest from driving, but was vigilant at chart reading to help me follow the right line. Some markers were missing or less clear than they should be. This post is a green marker on our map, for instance.

A green marker post, but with the green bit missing

Today was quite a shallow day but other sea-going boats have a deeper draught and are at more danger of the shallow waters, so we were at very little risk of grounding. Shane was really enjoying the weather and eased of driving.

Shane driving and another boat, a dot behind

We arrived at the turning for the Torksey lock into the Fossdyke canal. The other two boats were stopping and mooring there and we were going through. I rang them up and the gates opened for us. In we went, another lock with extra gates, only for a flood defence. The lock keepers here didn’t have push button controls but large wheels to turn or winding large handles. They seemed relaxed chatting to each other. It was nearly the end of their shift.

We picked up water just after the lock and then found a mooring spot. There was a mixture of bollards and rising rings. We are not expecting so much rain that we need it, but it works anyway

Bow rope moored to a rising ring on the canal

So we are off the river for a bit. We went a walk back to the lock and Shane collected the picture of the lock gate decorated with a teapot collection. I had pointed out the other gate with teapots when we were in the lock. These are the rarely used floodgates. In an emergency they may be happy to sacrifice the teapots!