Friday 6 April 2012

Any Port in a Storm

The first section of the tidal Trent was an uneventful, bitterly cold section of the journey, with sleety, driving rain. Only the hardiest of holidaymakers, and those with strict deadlines, we're moving.

But we reached Torksey slightly ahead of schedule, and were greeted by a friendly lockie who recommended the tea rooms and arranged our departure at 8 o'clock the next day.

Not a chance: the weather was even fouler with gusts of 50mph... But the lockie was right about the tea rooms.

Eventually the weather brightened enough, and we set off again, in convoy with NB Bagherra and her crew, to Cromwell. This part of the tidal Trent was far prettier and gentler - although we were punching the tide for the last 4 miles.

A glitch on my iPhone meant the photos of Newark's impressive castle were lost (I'll upload the ones we took with the SLR when we get home again.)

The final hazard was Averham Weir, notorious for grounded narrowboats. Instead of concentrating on steering, I took a nice photo of it - much to the entertainment of the crew.

A night in a fully-specced marina is an appropriate form of R&R. A bar, a laundry, showers with unlimited water, good friends in the village, a walk to the local farm shop and then an evening of gin & chocolate - more than enough to refresh anyone.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Floody Rivers

There's a big difference between a canal and a river, and I've mentioned before how much I prefer rivers.

But there are reminders everywhere of their power. The flotsam wedged underneath bridges, visible only as you pass under them, and hand-painted high water marks on the side of a cottage twenty feet above the normal summer level...

But it is also obvious how much people love rivers, in a way that just isn't evident on canals. Yes, they are pretty (especially the Selby Canal) but they are just too efficient, not frivolous enough.

The day and a half we have just spent on the South Yorkshire Navigations have been incredibly efficient: deep, wide and straight, with electric locks that fill & empty quickly without turbulence, these waterways are the racetracks of the narrowboat world.

But rivers ask more and reward more - such as Mic's inventive solution to the problem of how to wait on the river while Bank Dole Lock is prepared. Doing it properly means tying up while the chamber is emptied, and then reversing downstream to enter the lock.

Instead, Mic pulled the boat in to the inside of the lock landing and left the boat on tickover against the wall - letting the wash from the emptying lock run down the side of the boat and out of the way. Much less messing about.

Tomorrow is the big test, though. Has you seen the size of the River Trent?

No, that is not a lake.