Windlass And Crowbar At The Ready. 4th July

One Pound GOBA Mooring to EA Dolphin Mooring

A stowaway

Time to move on and let someone else enjoy this lovely mooring. Shortly before we pushed off two familiar narrowboats came past, NB Caspar and their friends. We’ve seen them down on the Relief Channel and at Waterbeach, would they get to the moorings in St Ives before us and fill them up? We hoped there’d still be space for us.


We pootled on along the river, the meadow stretching all the way along to Holywell where a narrowboat looked to be surrounded by cows. Here the river takes a bend to the South West, a council mooring sits invitingly in front of a collection of thatched cottages, more chocolate boxes required!

From the wide river with meadows on both sides we’d now entered a narrower channel, bordered by trees, sometimes hard to see too far ahead. The river was busier than we’ve seen it, plenty of boats on the move. Under an old railway bridge, now used by the Guided Busway which links Huntingdon to St Ives and Cambridge, sadly no bus came past as we went underneath.

St Ives Lock

We suspected we’d have a wait when we reached St Ives Lock due to the two narrowboats ahead of us. Sure enough they were both going up and another waiting to come down. I’d noticed on our map that this lock had vee gates at the top, similar to a River Nene lock, but would I need a windlass to open the paddles/slackers? I dug one out just in case.

A traffic jam

Up at the lock the downhill boat had entered I opened up the control panel as they sorted ropes out. They were hoping to get about half way to Ely today. The guillotine gate, as with others, has an inbuilt timer delay. It will lift a few inches to help drain the lock then the timer kicks in. Here there is a visible timer, 4 minutes plus. By now Oleanna had been joined by three cruisers, would we all fit in the D shaped lock? The entrance to these locks are not wide enough for two narrowboats to come in side by side, yet once in the lock you can fit three boats side by side. The cruisers decided they’d rather lock up together and we should go ahead on our own. Mick pulled in, flung a rope up to a bollard as I closed the gate behind.

Those slackers!

Following normal lock operation I opened the same side paddle as to Oleanna, who was on the long wall in line with the exit, I needed the windlass. At first this worked, holding her into the side. But then the current changed and started to push her over, lifting the other paddle didn’t do much to help. Next time if we’re on our own we’ll go into the D and see how that works.

St Ives

The cruisers came up to help turn the lock round for them and we were on our way again. Not far now to St Ives. The spire of All Saints Church came first into view, soon followed by the converted mill. We could moor along the wall, but it seemed too busy for our liking and a high wall to clamber up.

The bridge from the Wharf

Through St Ives Bridge with it’s chapel/toll house halfway and bridge arches stretching off into the distance, helping to keep the old road up above flooding land. Most of the arches are pointed, but two towards the west are rounded. These two arches were pulled down by Oliver Cromwell in 1645 and replaced by a drawbridge in case the Royalists attacked. They were rebuilt in 1716. The bridge used to take all manner of traffic until the bypass was built in1980, now pedestrians cross.

No need to duck

We dipped under the larger arch and made ready to turn into a short arm on the west side of the river. A cruiser and NB Caspar were just in the arm, a lady waved and then realised we were turning in, she grabbed hold of a rope quickly. They had pulled in with the intention to moor, but getting close to the bank had proved difficult, their friends had headed further upstream. As Caspar had started to reverse out they had picked up a chair on their prop which was proving to be an awkward thing to shift!

The arm proved to be shallow for us too. The bow coming close enough to jump off, but the stern staying out further than our plank would reach. With help from others we tied up and then went to see if we could help. Hacksaws were followed by crowbars, eventually their prop was freed and they headed off to join their friends. Our paths will no doubt cross again in the coming days.


Lunch whilst Tilly did her best to like our new mooring. The huge meadow looked interesting but without denser cover or trees she was put off somewhat. So she spent most of her time sitting on the back deck staring at it wishing it was a better outside!

A top up shop was required along with collection of a prescription in the centre of town. We arrived just as the market was closing up, most of what was still on display was tat that nobody needs in their lives. The wide street can certainly hold plenty of stalls, a shame we hadn’t arrived on a Farmers Market day, maybe we’ll try to time that for our return.

Second hand stuff

We walked through another market selling other peoples old possessions and headed to Waitrose. With some vouchers to use and only a few bits needed we hunted round for the reduced items and came away with a bag of fresh produce.

It’s still rubbish!

As much as Tilly tried to like our mooring again, it still failed for her. But as the sun started to dip towards the horizon the meadows made for a very pretty picture.


1 lock, 3.9 miles, 3 boats behind, 2 infront, 1 shallow arm, 1 jaunty mooring, 1 chair, 1 windlass and crowbar dug out, 1 disappointed cat, 1 sunset.

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