The night before we went to a pub to eat out. Was nervous about that too as I worried I wouldn’t have time to read the Skippers manual and if I had a drink to relax I wouldn’t concentrate on the manual or would feel groggy in the morning and what if I get food poisoning…. We went to the Cock and Bottle and after a few sips of the Tarleton Tickler, I was more upbeat. I was glad I didn’ t have what Shane ordered as it was too big even for him to manage. And I did read the manual.
In the morning we spent some time searching for bungees so Shane could secure the items on the roof and we checked that breakable or messy things were safely stowed …eggs vegetable oil, glass items. We met with the Canal and River trust staff and other boaters (4 others) and discussed departure order: the most experienced goes first ( one had done the link a few times in both directions so he was first) and the fastest boats go last ( one with a smaller engine would be towed by a tug and a cruiser – these sea going vessels would be able to go faster) so we were bang in the middle. Shane was skipper and driving. I would be providing drinks and snacks; checking the manual; working locks; running the hot water to stop the engine overheating and recording the trip with photos. Turned out I also had to take the tiller to relieve Skip occasionally, while Skip relieved himself – he does like a lot of coffee.
We were in the first lock that takes you to the river Douglas with a cruiser, already the plan that it would not be in with us and we’d be on our own, had changed. Anyway we still were in the same order. We left the lock before them but it wasn’t long before they went past us.
It was a clear day with little wind and medium tide so all was much smoother than expected. We were advised not to be a little to the right but generally central because although it looked wide there were various hazards at the side. Watching another boat was good for helping you think about whether or not you were in the right place in such a wide space.
The weather was brighter and the going was steady so I was feeling a bit more relaxed. There were lots of sheep and geese at the side, though quite distant and often some flying overhead.
While still on one river and had yet to join the estuary where two rivers meet, we were overtaken by the tug. Later we saw it returning alone the other way. Once across the tidal section that boat would be able to do the rest on its own.
Once you have turned into the estuary there are mile markers and there is a point when you ring and they give you the go ahead. There is a green light but you ring the staff as well. The chap checked if we were the last boat and it was reassuring that he then told me he could see us from his van near the light and that was giving us a guide as to where to turn into the smaller river as it was hard to see.
We then met up with all the other boaters including one who hadn’t made it the day before and had to dock at Preston overnight as they had gone too slowly and there wasn’t enough water to get into the sea lock. We were glad we had made it on time! We now had to wait for the water level to drop so we fitted under the next bridge. It was sunny and we no longer needed our life jackets.
The Savick Brook is a complete contrast to the wide estuary, being narrow and twisty and highly silted. The boat ahead and behind us got a bit grounded at the corner shortly after the bridge but everyone made it in the end. There are also major warning signs around, but generally it was very pretty, and I caught sight of a kingfisher.
There followed a series of eight locks, mostly with canal and river trust assistance and a few without. Very glad they help with the staircase though which you have to enter in reverse. Lark crew were excellent company through the locks and I got a short ride with them between locks when Shane had gone ahead.
So now we’re on the slow Lancaster canal and time to take in the sights at a leisurely pace after our rush to get here and there are no locks at all.
We ate out again to celebrate our safe passage at the very conveniently placed Taboosh restaurant near to another silver propeller spot and the massive meal and mocktails went down wonderfully.