Friday, 1 June 2018

'Extreme Narrow boating' across The Wash - Thursday 31st May 2018

Boston to Kings Lynn
30 miles, 1 lock

Well what can I say other than 'phew we made it!'.  Before you read this might I suggest that you go and read my blog post from 2014 The Wash to Boston first.  This will give some idea of what we were expecting, and then do read on to see how delusional we were!

The title comes from the day we completed the Severn tidal crossing from Sharpness to Portishead in 2015 - I texted our children to say we were safe and our daughter replied 'I shall be so glad when you two stop doing this 'extreme narrowboating!'.  All I can say is I am glad she did not know what we were letting ourselves in for this time.

At the very end of this (very long) blog there are two video links, but be warned they are not for the faint-hearted!

The day dawned - spiders had been busy in the night

it was, however, definitely not bright and sunny - this was taken at 06:30 - you should be able to see St Botolph's

Monty fully exercised and 'emptied' and we were off at 09:00 to meet our pilot, Daryl Hill (07909 880071) at the lock at 09:30 for passage through the lock when the tidal waters were the same level as the River Witham - the lock is only 40 feet long, so level water is required to allow a 59' and 60' boats passage.

It was actually around 10:30 when we went through the lock onto the Tidal River Witham

Followed closely by Cleddau

 a last look back at the footbridge and St Botolphs's

On flat calm waters we crept out of Boston

The boat graveyard is still there

and the fishing fleet

Past a dredger

the swingbridge

This was new to us - they are building a new barrier similar to the one in London to help save Boston from the devastating effects of floods.

Then there is a long stretch with nothing much to see

There is a little bit of splashing around the Cleddau bow - if we had known what was in store would we have continued?  I suspect not!

The only things to see are a few horses


and birds

Just over an hour after we left Boston we passed Tabs Head which marks the end of the River Witham and the junction with the River Welland

 and then we were out in The Wash

 and it was getting a little choppier

the waves are getting that bit bigger

Not the usual sight from a porthole near the bow!

A couple of shrimpers were out, but we saw very little on the move

Poor Monty was not happy, but no signs of feeling seasick this time despite the waves

and rougher still - note how wet the cratch cover is

The layers of clothes have increased along the addition of hats and gloves

and the swell - well it just kept getting bigger and bigger

Then all hell let loose inside our galley. We are slightly heavy to the port, so our starboard (right) galley drawers and cupboards have either child locks or hooks to hold them shut and to date we have never had a problem with the port side drawers and cupboards - until today!  Suddenly doors and drawers were opening and shutting in unison.  I was sent down to find the duct tape and get sticking.  There was a comment from Daryl (he does have a very dry sense of humour) about my inability to use duct tape without creases!!  It was not a day to worry about finesse!!

It got worse

and inside our boat it all really went mad - so much so that Daryl had to take over the helm

whilst Chris found more duct tape and it took two of us to plaster it all over the place!

Whilst this was all going on Daryl's great sense of humour kicked in again with a comment 'that he was building up a good appetite!'.  There was no chance of any food coming out of the galley whilst we were bouncing around all over the place!

I know Chris looks happy, but I suspect it was relief at just still being in one piece!

We did beach, but only for Monty to do what a good dog needs to do.  There was to be no leisurely walk about for all of us.  We had to keep the boats in gear to stop them drifting off. 

 Cleddau beached beside us

Chris changed into shorts, got the ladder out just so we could get Monty off.  Chris went over the bow
and I lifted Monty to hand him down, but he was having none of it and tried to dig his claws into the gunwhale.  

It meant Chris was unbalanced and he had to lower him down earlier than expected, so he had to wade - not his favourite occupation.

 He got his run around and did what he had to do

Then it was time to go - well he was having none of it!  He stuck his bottom in the air, flounced off and lay down looking at Chris as if to say 'You have got to be joking'!  He was persuaded and recovered back to the boat - a rather damp and sandy dog.

Next thing on the agenda was a late lunch (14:30ish).  Daryl is still partial to a bacon sandwich with barbecue or brown sauce with lettuce and tomato, but this time with mayo rather than butter.

Just over an hour after we beached we were off again.

Sue and Ken are all smiles - it was, at last, a lot calmer.

Monty retreated to our bedroom to hide beside the bed.

I gather there were quite a few seals around which I was told about when I emerged from making tea!  This were the only two I spotted.

Sue did much better

Then at last we were in the shelter of the River Great Ouse for the run into Kings Lynn

There is nothing wrong with the camera - it was still very misty and murky.

on past a seriously big boat

This shows just how big

 and past the Lynn Ferry - I gathered from Daryl that this is subsidised, something that is likely to stop, so they may well lose the ferry between West Lynn and Kings Lynn.

We were at about the half tide, so quite a lot of boats were beached

and there at last was our target - the visitor pontoons.

 Ken made it in, not helped by the heritage fishing boat that seems to be permanently moored on these VISITOR pontoons.  The fact that it is there is one thing, but it is in the worst place possible for narrow boats fighting the tide to moor up.  At the other end of the pontoon and on the inside would be preferable.

We tried to moor on the inside, but the stanchions make mooring a long narrow boat very hard, particularly if you have a dog to get on and off, so Ken pulled off again, we went round and moored on the inside and they breasted up with us.

This shows the power of the tide and explains why mooring up is not as easy as we are used to

The trip had actually only taken around 8 hours as opposed to 10 four years ago, but whereas we enjoyed every minute of the 10 hours in 2014, at least 3 of this year's hours were far from pleasant.  Daryl is an excellent pilot and I knew we were in safe hands and at no time did I fear for our safety - it was just unpleasant and a little alarming.

Once we had tied up safely and said good bye to Daryl (only briefly - he would be back at  06:00 the next day) there were jobs to be done - the usual engine and bilge checks

and lots of tape to be removed from our patchwork galley

The boat was examined - we had a bad case of 'white measles' - we will need a good wash to get rid of the salt (and sand) when we get to Denver Sluice

We had hoped to stay for two nights in Kings Lynn, but the pontoons were already booked for Friday, so it was a very fleeting visit and this was the only view we were afforded.

The one good thing about the day was that the restaurant we had ear marked for dinner was still a going concern

The only decision we had to make, was 'do we change and tidy ourselves up before dinner or do we go as we are and break out the bubbly?'

'As we were' won the day

and we enjoyed the fizz followed by an excellent meal with first class service.
 Then it was back to the boat for an early and very short night

Now if you are brave enough have a look at these You Tube clips

nb Cleddau

nb Tentatrice

So would we do it again?  Well Chris and Ken are keen to do Boston to Wisbeach, but I am not so sure - it would have to be on a day that was guaranteed to be sunny and calm. Daryl is excellent company as well as a very experienced and professional pilot.  Thank you Daryl for keeping me vaguely calm!


Carol said...

Goodness me! What a trip! Well done all of you. x

nb Chuffed said...

You are very brave. I would have been terrified and probably seasick too!

Marg said...

Goodness me , I would have been terrified. Thank goodness you're all ok x

Mrs. Jaqueline Biggs said...

Well I am seasick now! Blimey you four are all braver than me. I am so happy you are back in calmer waters and made is in one piece.

Love Jaq xxx

Jennie said...

Sorry it has taken me so long to publish these comments - for some reason I am no longer receiving email notification of comments awaiting publication.

Thank you Carol, Debby, Marg & Jaq for your kind words - I have to admit to being far from happy until it was all over!

Flexibase said...

Super - well done and thanks for sharing.