Crossing The Tide. 20th May

Glady Dacks to 2nd GOBA mooring, River Wissey

Another early start for us, we’d the tide to catch!

Only time for one birthday present before we pushed off, a sponge squeegee thing to help clean the solar panels, a Barnetts in York purchase on Tilly’s behalf.

Funny clouds

What a grey morning! The clouds above us looked like someone had rolled out a load of wadding or that we had been covered by a large grey focaccia. Waterproofs were at the ready should they be needed, they were later on.

Salters Lode

We arrived at Salters Lode around 9:30, a chap in high vis asked if we’d be going through the lock today. Yes. He would be our lock keeper, we should be ready to go at 11:30, he’d just been down to let two long boats through the lock. Salters Lode Lock is 62ft long and heads out onto the Tidal River Great Ouse. If your boat is longer than 62ft then it is still possible to pass through the lock when the level of the river matches that of the creek, both gates on the lock open at the same time. He checked our length, we’d be fine, then he went to chat with NB Tank Girl they’d also be going through today.

Lock gates open

We walked up to look at the lock and river. Mick had spent sometime last night watching Youtube videos of boats coming and going through Slaters Lode and Denver Sluice (the lock to get onto the non-tidal River Great Ouse. But there’s nothing like seeing the lay of the land/river and the speed at which the water passes by first hand.

The tide was on it’s way in. Outside the lock we could see the railings that help guide you into the mouth of the lock and hopefully avoid ending up on the sand banks. We then walked along the flood bank towards Denver Sluice, over Old Bedford Lock. Just half a mile of tidal water lays between the two locks. Denver Sluice looked bigger and more substantial with it’s big guillotine gates. Time for a cuppa back on board before the tide would be right for us.

At 11:30 both boats were ready. The lady from NB Tank Girl headed off to see if she could find the lock keeper, I followed in case we’d be told anything important. The chap took some finding as he was actually on the river side checking the depth of water, I couldn’t quite see, but I think he was in waders with a stick just on the side we’d seen a couple of hours earlier just sitting out of the water. ‘Another half hour’ he said. There are all sorts of factors to take into consideration at Salters Lode, tide, fresh water, an exact time can’t be given, but a good measure is required.

By now it was raining. Would our planned barbeque still be on or would we be lighting the stove and having jacket potatoes for Mick’s birthday meal?

About half an hour later the Lockie came to say the level was good, he was ready for us. NB Tank Girl went first, one boat at a time through the lock. They detached their chimney and laid it on the roof, air draught kept to the minimum. The bow rope was passed round a chain to help keep their boat into the side, then a sluice was opened letting jets of water into the lock. It doesn’t seem right that we’d be going up onto tidal water.

As the boat rose the Lockie kept reminding the lady to duck as she was positioned directly under part of the structure that was getting closer and closer. Then the guillotine gate was raised, would their boiler flue fit under the bridge? Out on the river the tide was now going out, they could wait for the level to be suitable to get out, but they managed to sneak out.

Swapping boats

The Lockie made a phone call to Denver Sluice, there was a boat coming the other way, down stream. Both boats exited their respective locks at the same time and would pass somewhere on the half mile between, a bit like exchanging spies at Check Point Charlie. We watched NB Tank Girl exit, put the revs on and push her tiller over to head upstream and into the out going tide.

From up ahead we could see NB Annie heading downstream, the two boats would end up passing on the wrong side, but that didn’t really matter. The Lockie stood high by the lock, his high vis coat worn for a reason. He held his arm out pointing to downstream, NB Annie held her course. Then when his arm was dropped, the chap at the helm began his turn. As you would at Selby he swung around to face the out going tide and then inched his way back towards the lock. Did he have enough power to avoid hitting the downstream wall? Did he have too much power on and be going to miss the fencing and end up on the sand bank?

Annie coming down to the creeks level

In the end he glided in towards the lock, touching nothing. As he came into the lock his voice sounded familiar, hang on was it Paul the narrowboat mover. Sure was. He remembered us too, our paths having crossed at Bosley two years ago and up on the Leicester Section last year. Good to see him again. He bought a one day licence for the Middle Level, he’d be across and out the other side by 10:30am tomorrow.

As soon as Paul was clear of the lock it was our turn. Rope passed round the chain, sluice opened. By the time the guillotine raised the level of the out going tide was already about 18 inches lower than it had been for Tank Girl. We thanked the Lockie then Mick nudged the bow out of the lock towards the tide.

Revs, tiller and we were facing the tide in the rain, great birthday weather! The half mile didn’t take long and we were soon entering Denver Sluice which was sat waiting for us. A stern rope was passed round a riser, the guillotine dropped behind us. We’d be going down off the tidal water and onto the River Great Ouse.

The River Great Ouse, wide and deep

Another Lockie to thank as we came out and onto the wide expanse of river. As we made our way upstream we discussed what to have for lunch. A bowl of soup maybe, or a bacon butty. The bacon won!

Much narrower River Wissey

A mile and a quarter upstream we spotted the turn onto the River Wissey and took it. Under the railway bridge we pulled in at a GOBA mooring. The Great Ouse Boating Association are similar to Friends of the River Nene and have moorings for members to use, membership £23 a year.

This will do

The mooring was showing signs of subsidence, little of it level. With another mooring just a short distance further on we pushed off and tried there instead. We pulled in and made ourselves at home. Lots of birds for company and a herd of sheep on the other side who seemed to head off in a hurry for a hair cut.

Blowing out the candles

Lunch, bacon butties was followed by Birthday Cake, Blueberry Lemon and Almond cake. Candles and everything.

Is it present time?

Then presents. Mick got the latest edition of the Imray guide to The River Great Ouse and it’s tributaries, featuring several photos of Heather and her boat NB Bleasdale, we’ve also spotted Simon on NB Scholar Gypsy in there too. He also got a new blue tooth keyboard and mouse for his tablet computer, the current one’s had been working intermittently for a while.

As Tilly explored her surroundings we hid inside hoping the weather would improve. Sunshine came and went, but the rain didn’t return. So late afternoon Mick found what he thought would be the more sheltered part of our mooring and set up the bbq as I threaded veg and haloumi onto skewers and wrapped salmon and bananas up in foil ready to cook.

Cheers! Happy Birthday Mick

Maybe a little bit chilly, but we still enjoyed our private mooring with food and wine. Tilly was given an extension to cat curfew. She spent most of it staring into the friendly cover with the occasional break to climb a tree.

Setting sun

2 locks, 4.93 miles, 1 leftish, 1 right, 1 left, 0.5 miles of tidal water, 1 creek, 2 rivers, 1 wet day, 1 mover, 1 cake, 12 candles, 2 cards, 3 presents, 2nd mooring, 7 hours shore leave, 8 asparagus tips, 4 veg haloumi kebabs, 2 salmon steaks, 1 sunset, 1 Mick 1 year older.

4 thoughts on “Crossing The Tide. 20th May

  1. jennie230

    Hi Pip, your posts are bringing back so many happy memories of our two visits to that part of the world. It sets me up for the day each morning, thank you. Belated Happy Birthday to Mick. Jennie xx

    1. pipandmick Post author

      Thank you Jennie, I just wish the sun would hang around for a little bit longer each day.
      Your garden looks lovely by the way, do you think your gardener would go to Scarborough to tackle ours?
      Pip x

  2. Anonymous

    Belated Happy Birthday Mick, nice set of prezzys and a lovely cake by the look of it. The fens look particularly good enjoying your photos.
    Cheers Ade

    1. Pip

      Thanks Ade. I think the last slices of cake will be consumed with a cuppa when we stop today

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