Monday, 12 September 2016

East Mids Exploration: Day 12

A quiet night in Newark, the only disappointment being that the castle wasn't floodlit; maybe the lights have fallen victim to cuts or something. This morning was bright and sunny again. We started a wash load, then set off at about 8.15, under Newark Bridge.

Nether Lock was showing an amber light which means boater operation, so Adrian went and pressed the buttons. It's another big and fairly deep lock.

It's a few miles from Nether Lock to Cromwell Lock, where the Trent becomes tidal. As we approached the lock a couple of narrowboats were coming out, the lights changed to green, and two small narrowboats went in -- so we followed them. One was a little Sea Otter, the other looked like an ex-Canaltime boat; I asked the helmsman if he was an old hand at this, and he said he'd been doing it about thirty-five years. As we left the lock, a big cabin cruiser was waiting to come in.

We followed the other boats, but also had the Trent charts, which I'd laminated and put in a file. The charts show the line of the channel, all the red and green markers on the corners, and the numbered kilometre posts, so you know where you are. There are a couple of places with big yellow warning signs, advising of sunken islands that need to be avoided.

There are a few landmarks, like a disused jetty not far from Cromwell, a topless old mill, and eventually even a bridge or two.

About three quarters of the way through our journey, we thought the boat in front was a bit far over to the right, where the chart showed the channel more in the middle of the river and then moving left. Moments later, the water round the boat went muddy, and he was aground. We asked if there was anything we could do help, and the helmsman said he was ok -- but he looked to be pretty well stuck to us; we were also a bit concerned about getting stuck ourselves. His mate was way ahead, but he must have phoned him because he later turned around and went back. I doubt he'd have been able to do anything, not least because the tide was still going out. All you can really do is wait for the next tide to lift you off.

We carried on and eventually came to the entrance to Torksey Lock Cut. I started making the turn, only to find a dredger with a huge pan right in the middle of the cut. I signalled to the operator to ask which side I should go, and he indicated to the right. There wasn't much room, and the tide was also trying to sweep me past, but we got through the narrow gap between the dredger and the trees without touching anything and without getting stuck. This is looking back, with Cottam power station in the background.

It had taken us just under three hours from Cromwell to Torksey. We moored up on the pontoon below the lock, and chatted to some of the other boaters there. There were three boats, all due to head off to West Stockwith, the start of the Chesterfield Canal, at about 1pm. One of the boaters said he's been doing the Trent for twenty years, and also ran around recently in about the same place as the boat this morning. We went to see the lock keeper, and tried to get some lunch -- but the cafe doesn't open on Mondays or Fridays, the restaurant was closed, and so was the pub. So we came back to the boat for lunch.

We had a bit of a wait -- the lock keeper said there wouldn't be enough water to get us over the cill of the lock until about 5pm. When there was enough, he'll open the lock and turn the light to green. During the afternoon, I've done some more work on my boat test, Adrian has been reading, and a tug called Exeter has brought a huge empty pan for the dredging operation and took away a full one after turning round right next to us -- coming within inches of the boat.

At about 6pm, we got the green light for the lock. Torksey is a big lock, with a couple of sets of middle gates that don't seem to be used. There were three boats to go up; this one was behind us.

The lock keeper said we could moor above the lock, once the four boats waiting there had gone down.

23 miles, 3 locks. (186 miles, 114 locks)


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