Lining Up The Bucket. 11th September

Cromwell to Torksey

Beautiful, even if it’s mostly from planes

Would today be the day when I could upgrade from flip flops to something more substantial on my feet? Some slip resistant crocs made the grade, a cautious put on but after that there is plenty of room around my little toe. In the next few days we’ll see what they are like with socks.

NB Preaux about to push off

Water filling, breakfast early, clear the cratch to make more room and exchange phone numbers with Steve and Deena on NB Preaux for just in case. An Anglo Welsh boat had pulled up last night, they’d been to walk their dog this morning and their boat name was on the list for passage through Cromwell this morning. Steve looked towards the lock the green light was on it was 7:35, Neil was ready for us. We still had a couple of jobs to do but would be along shortly.

Oleanna ready for the tide

As we pulled in and passed our ropes round the risers Neil asked if there was movement from anyone else, only the dog walker. He wanted to see the crew on the hire boat before hand, so they wouldn’t be joining us. The top gates closed behind the two boats, thumbs up that we were ready, the sluices were lifted and down into the dark of the lock we went.

Cromwell Weir

We’d agreed to go first as we’ve done this stretch maybe four times before. 7:50, off we went, up to our cruising speed, hopeful to reach Torksey in time for there to be sufficient water to get over the cill today. We’d be punching what meager tide there was before it would start to help us and give us a push.

Not sure we’ve seen the weir looking so high before, the tide not up to meet it. A sand bank had birds preening themselves in the morning sunshine, maybe we should have worn shorts and not long trousers!

NB Preaux following

We followed the red line on our charts, this normally feels a touch overkill, but this morning with the level low it felt important to keep in the channel, sandbanks lurk below. Behind NB Preaux followed, their speed not the same as ours.

Round a couple of bends, we caught another fisherman! Mick put Oleanna into reverse hoping that we’d not been caught too well, the fisherman pulled and wound his line, thankfully it came free.


I maybe should have brought out a pencil to jot notes on our new chart, but the red line was what we needed and we followed it as closely as we could. A glance behind every now and again, NB Preaux coming into view then out again at the next bend.

Contender for Photo of the Week

What a glorious morning, not too hot, not much breeze, blue skies. One look along the river gave us 2 Herons, an Egret, Egyptian Geese and a Kingfisher darting along the edge of the banks.


Cows walked to find tasty morsels silhouetted. Sheep scrambled over rocks preferring the nettles there, hopefully none of them would loose their footing and end up in the river!


A cruiser came past heading to Cromwell, he had a loud hailer and wished us good morning, his wind turbine whizzing round on the bow. He was soon followed by a narrowboat. As always you meet boats on a stretch where you are trying to line up with landmarks. The pylon behind with the white domed windmill ahead. Line the pooh bucket up with it.

Gulls sat on top of marker posts, some having seen better days, now rusting away, few bright white anymore.

At Marnham Boat Club two chaps were tentatively backing a speed boat into the river, would it float before water came over the stern? And just how much effort went into the positioning of that life boy? Under Fledborough Viaduct, navigational notes should be amended here to left or the centre pier, rather than under the graffitti, now almost impossible to see until you are right underneath.

Lining up with the wires

Approaching Dunham Dubbs (is it one B or two?) I got out the new chart showing the recently added markers. A new line to follow up to the bend, then to follow the line of the western overhead wires.

The two new boards needed lining up, but where was the white post ahead of us? Two tractors cut grass, maybe they needed to do a little bit of pruning of a tree, then the post came into view. We lined the posts behind and the pooh bucket on the roof with the post ahead, we knew were we in the channel.

Dunham Toll Bridge

One day we’ll stop at the 48 hour mooring before Dunham Toll Bridge, but not today, the tide was busy going out and we were eager to get to Torksey.

Cottam Power Station

Past Butlers sunken island and great views of Cottam Power Station, the coal fired station now decommissioned (2019). Demolition works have already started on sight this year, the cooling towers and chimney stack will be the last parts to be demolished in 2025. Then according to Wikipedia the sight will become a ‘garden community’ with 1500 houses.

Not far now, a couple of big sweeps of the river before we got to see Jack’s Ferry, time to radio the lock and check if we were in time. He’d just had a call from NB Preaux, they were a little way behind us. We were told there was 3ft and a bit over the cill at the moment, the lock gates would be open ready for us, lights on green. We were to approach with caution and slow our speed right down. If at any time he thought we should abandon then the lights would go to red.

Torksey Lock!

We turned into the cut, one cruiser on the pontoon, plenty of space should we need it. The lights were red, the gates just opening, light went to green. A call on the radio, depth over the cill 3ft, we should be fine as we’re 2ft 6″. Mick slowed us right down, the shallowest point being the cill between the small lock and longer lock chamber. We’d made it, 10:41. Ropes were passed up to the top and now there was a short wait for NB Preaux.

Here they come

The Lockie gave them a call, but he had the wrong number. They’d told us their draught was 2ft, so they should be fine, but the Lockie had not been able to confirm that with them. As they approached they slowed right down and were told to pass a line round a riser in the longer chamber under the road bridge. Once we were all settled the gates were closed and the lock started to fill. Thumbs up from Steve and Deena, what a wonderful cruise it had been.

A pause to dispose of rubbish for us and then we sauntered on to the 3 day moorings, NB Preaux carrying on to explore further. Once we’d tied up, the rules were recited to Tilly who was FAR too excited to listen. 6 what?!! Wow!! See ya!

Torksey Lock and Cottam Power Station behind us

An early lunch, well we’d had breakfast far too early. Then a quiet afternoon. Phone signal not the best unless you stand on the bank or resort to Whatsap. I had a catch up call with Gemma from Panto, still waiting to hear back about the cloths and printing, I’d sent an email first thing, but now with poor signal it was hard to follow it up.

Coming up the lock

Another Denzil Washington film this afternoon Inside Man (2006). A bank heist with a difference, Denzil a NYPD hostage negotiator and items locked away in safety deposit boxes. Only problem was that our internet signal was patchy too, so it took a long time to watch it. As the afternoon progressed rain set in, we closed up the covers and settled down.

2 locks, 16.9 miles, 1 right, 2 boats not 4, 1 fisherman nearly caught, 1 bright sunny day, 2 new markers, 2 upstream boats, 3 ft, 2ft 10, 2 boats onto the Fossdyke, 6 hours, 5th sock finished, 6th started, 1 happy cat, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.