Thursday, 31 July 2014

The Wash to Boston

Tuesday 29th July
30 miles - this may change when an exact calculation is made, 1 lock

05:30 0 up

07:15 – Monty and I had been on a good long walk, the tide was in and the weather was good. 

All we needed was Daryl Hill, the pilot.  A phone call to Patrick to say he was stuck in traffic and would go to West Lynn and get the ferry.

We were entertained watching this large tanker manoeuvring.

A man arrived – was this Daryl.  If so he did not fit my expectations – he was wearing a short sleeved white shirt with epaulettes marking some sort of rank, dark trousers and a life jacket.  The latter I expected, but not the official shirt.  Rest easy – he was there to check all things were in working order on the pontoon including the SOS alarm.

Another man arrived and fitted the bill perfectly – a navy ‘sailors cap’, beard, dark top, jeans and with a life jacket swinging from his hand.  Yes this was Daryl.  Tea with one very good sugar ('I am nearly down to one, but not quite!' he announced) was supplied by Boatwif.  Which boat do you want to travel on?  ‘I need to sit down as I am suffering from sciatica’ was the reply.  That will be Tentatrice then as we have a semi trad stern.  He was settled aboard complete with cushion and off we went just before 09:00.

We were in the lead followed by Cleddau with Chouette bringing up the rear

 Past the two tankers being loaded up

Out past the first buoy (we saw a lot of these)

The sky was blue with light clouds 

All was very well with our world.  Lots of tea and a biscuit (or two) were consumed as we made our way further and further out to sea.

We passed a couple of shrimping trawlers busy at work 

 Boatwif got a turn at the helm

We were never out of sight of land, but it certainly felt like it at times.

Having come across the March Navy on the Great Ouse, today we had the Boston Armada bearing down on us!

It was not long before they sped past on their way to Felixstowe according to Daryl.

Lunch was offered, but the decision was made to wait until we beached on Roger Sands which we did around 14:00.  Before we could land the resident seal had to move.

‘Drive it hard straight onto the sand’ was the instruction offered.  In no time at all we were stationary. 
Lunch was created – we had heard on the grapevine that Daryl is partial to a bacon butty, but not just any old bacon butty – one with butter on the bap, brown or barbecue sauce, tomato and lettuce!  Very good they were too!  Well I hope it met up to expectation

Then it was time to disembark - Cleddau has a great ladder

ours was not so good!  Chris just made it down our rope ladder.  

Getting back on was even more difficult

Whereas Cleddau’s could be use with a degree of decorum!

I waited to use theirs - a new ladder is definitely on the shopping list!

Once we were on the beach we could appreciate the sight of three narrow boats side by side waiting for the tide to turn.

 Then we could enjoy the  freedom to walk, run after a ball (Monty), ease springs (Monty again), paddle and enjoy the one seal who stayed around to amuse us all.  Was she waving in greeting or trying to hurry us away from her sandbank, so she could get back to basking in the sun?

Monty and the seal were oblivious of each other

Deep discussions took place

Feet were ‘washed’ – yes it was a good ‘washing day’ Mike GTX!

Then it was time to get back on board (The Captain had to go last as we all needed to use his ladder). 

 After some 2.5 hours it was time to re-float – it took a lot of power, but we all made it safely

The excitement was all too much for Monty who had a nap with his head leaning on Daryl’s feet – this is a dog who does not cuddle – we reckon he was keeping in with the man in charge!

As we neared land the wind got up

But we were soon at Tabs Head which marks the start of the River Witham

We proceeded along the Witham with a good degree of splashing around the bows – more than there had been all across the Wash.

This is what we were aiming for – St Botolph’s Church, aka The Stump

On the approach

 Past the swing railway bridge which is still in use 

Past the fishing fleet

And a bit of a boat graveyard

Under a bridge - 'keep to the centre of the channel' we were advised

And then suddenly familiar territory – we parked here when we visited in March

Next we were rewarded with a sight of the lock.  Daryl’s timing was perfect – we were there about 10 minutes before the tide and the river were level.  The lock is only about 40 feet long and we were all longer than that, so needed level water to allow us to go through with the gates open at either end.

Just enough time to let this sailing boat through before us

In we all went

The very big gates closed behind us

And then we were off

By just after 19:00 we were all moored up – Chouette on a pontoon

and Cleddau and Tentatrice along the bank as the rest of the pontoons were full - there were 8 narrow boats waiting to go across the Wash to Wisbech the next day.

Next came a champagne celebration on board Cleddau with Boatwif sharing the good news with the Cheshire One.

Yet another fabulous sunset

Which really lit up the Stump behind us 

Can I summarise the day?  Well yes, it was a fantastic experience.  Daryl kept his eye on the ball in a very understated way all day and his timings were on the dot.  To anyone out there thinking about crossing the Wash – I would say ‘Do it’! This is a very big tick on our ‘to do’ list.

To Denver Sluice and on to Kings Lynn

Sunday 27th July
To Denver Sluice
9.25 miles, 0 locks

The day started with a lot of noise – a group of day ‘merry day’ trippers – they went past and came back again before we set off.

The next sound – a spluttering and then silence – the engine on one of the boats died.  The engine cover came up and they did manage to restart it and carry on.

We soon caught them up and the high jinks were continuing.  The boat that had engine problems was now under tow and there was a lot of dancing to very loud music!

The lead boat pulled over and we assumed they would all stop for lunch – we all hoped they made it safely back at the end of the day

The first mooring we found at Denver we soon realised had rather large neighbours and although Monty did not seem that bothered

we moved on down towards the sluice, took on water and then found another mooring 

With this as our view - not far to go first thing then!

And yet more hissy neighbours

 Monday 28th July

To Kings Lynn
14 miles, 1 lock

Our slot was for 8am at the sluice.  Cleddau and Tentatrice went through first. 

Sadly it was a little tight and we left a bit of paint behind!

By 08:50 Chouette had joined us and we were off

All suitably attired for a tidal river

Chouette in the lead

Cleddau bringing up the rear

And we were the filling in the sandwich – they both had sat nav which aided us all avoid the sand banks – something for our shopping list for next year.

There were cows


A bird box in the middle of nowhere

The derelict church at Wiggenhall Mary the Virgin
And the church at Wiggenhall St German

The remains of some bridges

A gas power station

A huge paper mill

Under the last two bridges
Past a line of moored boats in the middle of the river – some of them quite different

 And then our first sight of the moorings. 

As we approached a voice from high above us said ‘Are you mooring up?’.  ‘Yes’ I replied.  ‘Oh how wonderful’ he said ‘you are very welcome’.  Then he spied our boat name ‘Tardebigge’, he said ‘are you anything to do with it?’.  ‘Yes we live nearby and volunteer for C&RT as litter pickers’ I replied.  ‘Well my mother used to live there’.  Before any more could be said we had passed by to moor up, but it was a wonderful welcome.  It transpired that we must have been the first group of narrow boats to use this new pontoon (Jul 2013) – we inspired a ‘tweet’ from the ‘Sailthewash’ website with a CCTV picture of the three boats on the pontoon. - you have to scroll down a bit and I guess we will eventually fall off the bottom of the page, but it was great to be welcomed and acknowledged. 

First things first – off to find some grass for Monty up a relatively steep ramp

By 13:30 it was even steeper
I am glad I do not have to climb this ladder
Two hours later care had to be taken going up and down

By 21:00 the tide was in and there was hardly any slope at all
Next stop was the Information office to pay our dues for one night on the moorings.
Narrow boats do get a 20% discount as we are so long and thin.  It is quite pricey (just over £20 for us at 18 metres), but the moorings are good and it took a good 2.5 hours off the day across the Wash if we had had to start at Denver, so worth every penny.  They are safe and secure as long as you can cope with a very steep climb at low tide.  We reckoned  the difference between low and high tide was about 12 foot.

We went past this Art, Cities and Lanscape.

I found another later on in the park which they said was supposed to represent a bridge, but I am afraid I could not quite see it.  I am sure there are others I did not discover.
So to Kings Lynn – our first visit and it was all too short – there was a lot we did not see.  Our priority as always was dog walking.  Lanes Park is worth a visit whether you have a dog or not as it has many interesting things to look at and is a place of beauty and serenity.

This floral display at one of the entrances
Some small allotments
Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount 1485

An wooden monk (we have no idea if it has any significance or if it just made very good use of an old tree stump)
Part of the old city walls

A band stand 

A small stream

As well as some very green weed in places

And best of all for Monty – Lots of open space for ball throwing and some squirrels!

Other things I noted that make me want to go back again for a longer visit:

The Minster

The library

 Captain George Vancouver born Kings Lynn 1757 died in Petersham 1798.  A great navigator along the west coast of the States from San Diego to Anchorage. 

Framingham Hospital Almshouses first built c.1677 off Broad Street by John Halcott and Henry Framingham (Mayor 1690 & 1700).  They were rebuilt by one of the entrances to Lane Park in 1848 to allow the cattle market to be enlarged.  The latest alterations and improvements were done in 1999.

On one of my Monty walks I stumbled across this 

The day ended with a fantastic meal for all six of us at Marriots Warehouse right opposite the quay. And so to bed as we had an early start the next day for the biggest adventure on Tentatrice so far!