Thursday, 15 September 2016

East Mids Exploration: Day 15

The problem with needing to go on a river in the fairly early morning in the autumn, is that it'll be misty. And it was this morning. In fact, it was a bit more than misty in places. We needed to set off at 7am to catch the tide; the visibility wasn't great.

The conditions meant a great deal of concentration was needed. We were following the charts, and to make sure we knew where we were and where there were shallows we needed to avoid, we needed to look out for the red and green markers on the corners, the km posts, and the warning signs.

After a while, I noticed that emerging out of the gloom behind us was a large boat. We recognised it as the tug, Exeter, pushing a couple of huge empty pans. They'd all been on the pontoon at Torksey Lock. Then I noticed that a small cruiser we'd met at Torksey was also behind us. They came past first.

Exeter gradually caught up with us, and at a suitable point we slowed down and let it pass.

Then some boats appeared coming the other way. First were three cruisers, then a bit later a narrowboat. We also heard on the VHF radio the Cromwell Lock keeper telling Torksey the names of the boats heading his way. It confirmed my belief that you shouldn't pick a silly name for your boat, because it may need to be used on the radio. One of the cruisers was Vino Collapso.

The VHF proved very useful as we approached the end of the tidal section at Cromwell Lock. Exeter told the lock keeper he was on his way, and that he had us behind him. He said he'd need to use the whole lock -- rather than the middle gates on the lock, which they'd use for narrowboats and cruisers -- and suggested we go in first, with him behind. So on the approach to the lock, Exeter slowed down, we went past into the lock, and then he came in behind us. We've shared locks on the Thames with some big boats, but nothing like this.

Egrets: I've seen two. One in the gloom this morning, another after the sun came out this afternoon.

We carried on through Nether Lock and Town Lock at Newark, each time using the VHF to tell the lock keepers we were coming. We had lunch on the move, then at some point in early afternoon the sun finally burned off the mist and fog. The reach up to Fiskerton seemed to take ages, but once we got there, there's plenty to appreciate. We liked a modern riverside house, and the pub looks good too.

It was now nicely sunny and warm, so we carried on, aiming for Gunthorpe Lock. The scenery does look different going the other way, but as we did the river only the other day, it did seem sensible to try to get plenty of miles under our belt. We moored up for the night at the visitor pontoons at Gunthorpe at about 4.30. I'm not sure we've ever done this many miles in a day before.

36 miles, 5 locks. (245 miles, 120 locks)


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