Bacon Butties, Bananas And A Break. September 26th

West Stockwith to Opposite Staniland Marina, Stainforth and Keadby Canal

Thank you swan

Alarm at 6am, blimey it was dark. When I took the above photo I had no idea there was a swan right in the middle of it! Cuppas were made and drunk, Nebolink started, covers rolled up, no time for breakfast today!

West Stockwith Lock for 7am

We were just pulling into the lock as the Lockie arrived a little before 7am. He donned his life jacket and got out his serious key of power, it looked like the float also doubles as a corkscrew! We chatted a little as the water drained from the lock. A radio check was done between us and NB That’s It, all loud and clear. The gates opened and we were out on the river again turning downstream heading off with the outgoing tide.

What a morning!

About twenty minutes later Brian radiod, they were now on the river too. Three boats all heading to Keadby. Our normal cruising speed was knocked back a touch so as to keep a similar speed to those following us. Best to keep some distance between us, but not too much!

Waterway Routes and the chart

I’d managed to pull out some mittens for us this morning and we were glad we had them. It was a touch chilly out there, but what a wonderful morning to be out on the river. Soon we were following trails of debris which had found it’s way into the channel, thankfully the level of the river meant we could keep just out of the channel, helping to keep the prop clear.

Windmills, pubs, gas pipelines, hills in the distance all came and went. The Boating Association charts next to Waterway Routes again, helped us to know our location as downstream from Gainsborough there are no Km markers or red and green posts.

Gradually everything got misty, a dampness in the air. Waterproof trousers were sought and put on just before the M180 bridge. Here it was time to radio ahead to Keadby Lock to inform them of our position. The lock was ready and waiting for us, he’d get us sorted and then we’d wait for NB That’s it and NB Christopher B to arrive before being locked up together, Keadby Lock can take three narrowboats side by side.

Gosh the cloud was low, as we approached Keadby Bridge it was hard to make out the wind turbines that back in February surrounded the white lookout tower at the lock. Time to switch sides of the river and make our approach. This involves winding to face the current, then you have more control over your boat pushing your way forward.

We want to turn in there

Mick swung us round, maybe a little bit early. We were level with the lock entrance. We didn’t seem to be being moved with the tide, just in gear we were making our way back up stream away from the lock. Reverse was given a blast to adjust our position. This has happened approaching Selby Lock before, maybe we just manage to find patches of slack water!

Sorting ropes out with the Lock Keeper

Now with a better position Mick pushed the tiller over and upped the revs, Oleanna swung round and into the lock. We’d made it! Time to hold ropes and wait for the others to arrive. We’d heard Brian radio from the M180 a short while before we’d entered the lock so they were about fifteen minutes behind us. The Lockie passed down ropes to take ours up and around bollards. By now it was proper raining and clinging on to ropes meant sleeves getting wet!

I sent a message to Jo that we were in the lock. A message came back that NB Christopher B would come in first followed by NB That’s It. We watched as Clive turned in the river and then headed for the lock. Time for Clive and Les to cling onto Oleanna and wait for Brian to come in alongside them. NB That’s It turned and within a blink of an eye they were entering the lock. All three boats now safely in the lock, smiles all round, phew!

All three boats off the river

It took a while for the lock to fill. The Lockie asked if we would be staying or heading onwards through Vazon Sliding Bridge. The consensus yesterday had been to have a breakfast break and then carry on, making use of three boats in convoy to work the bridges. However if it continued to rain we’d be staying put.

Bacon butties and a banana each with a nice hot cuppa made things better. After an hour the rain seemed to be petering out. A boaters conference was held on the towpath, time to move on.

Waiting for Vazon Sliding Bridge to open

At times this year Vazon Sliding Bridge has had time restrictions for its use due to high temperatures expanding the structure and the train timetables needing to be kept to. As we moved off the Lockie rang, he’d give the bridge keeper a call for us. The flotilla pulled out heading west.

A bit of running maintenance

There was a wait. Mick checked his train app, no trains anywhere nearby. Then the warning siren started, the bridge slid back. Brian was first through dropping Jo off to work the manual swing bridge, then Oleanna, followed by Clive and Les. What surprised us was that there was a chap stood next to the bridge. He scraped and oiled parts of the structure next to the canal. Time to say hello, the bridge stayed open for sometime after we’d left.

Blue sky now!

Now we were in leapfrog bridge mode. We’d positioned ourselves well, the push button bridges would be ours meaning I could work them and leave Mick to battle with the inevitable wind that lurks along the Stainforth and Keadby Canal.

Godnow Bridge had a very chatty level crossing chap on duty. He closed the rail barriers, pressed his button inside the cabin allowing me to work the canal bridge. Road traffic was already backing up, the three boats came through, closed button pressed and road reopened.

Assistance required

Next up was Medge Hall Bridge, the one with the post box and nice signal box. Les hopped off to work it. All the bridges are different in one way or another and it took a bit of fathoming out. Jo went to lend a hand, barriers needed clicking in more. The leapfrog changed order a touch.

Gradually the sun was coming out and ahead lay Yorkshire, as we crossed the border from Lincolnshire we gave a big cheer.

Us infront again

Maud’s Bridge the one that was stuck shut to boat traffic in January after a car had smashed into the barriers is always a bit of a pig, poor Les got that one too. Our turn next. Moores Swing Bridge was having new controls added in January, a new simple open/close button panel. I held the traffic up again.

Moores Swing Bridge

Two more bridges to Thorne. The flotilla changed order again, meaning that those who knew how seriously annoying Princess Royal Swing Bridge can be would work it. So Clive and Les would get Wykewell Lift Bridge. Well that was the plan.

Something’s not right!

Bringing up the rear we could see that something had happened ahead. NB Christopher B was pulled into the side, centre line tied, Les looked to be on her knees by the stern. Then she was inside and Clive heading to open the bridge, had Les fallen?

Hello Chance

Clive returned to the boat leaving the bridge up. We pulled up to see if we could do anything. The wind was now pinning Christopher B against the side, traffic was queueing. As Clive battled with the boat I closed the bridge let the traffic through then raised it again just as Clive had got going again. He pulled in on the other side. Les was injured, an ambulance was required!

This bridge just needs blowing up!

Not much we could do other than offer ice for a possible broken ankle. We carried on into Thorne where Brian and Jo were doing battle with the footbridge. I went to waggle gates whilst others pressed buttons. No joy. I got a video call from the set builders to go through things and answer questions, so I missed the cavalry arriving from the council who gave the gate a big waggle and the bridge worked! Clive by now had decided to follow us, he was first to pull in onto the pontoons. A first responder very quickly arrived and spent quite some time inside with Les.

A very late lunch and chats with Brian and Jo as our water tank slowly filled. They would be staying, we’d be moving to above the lock for a more suitable place for Tilly. When we eventually pulled out an Ambulance had just arrived to take Les to hospital.

Thank goodness they came quickly

At Thorne Lock a boat was just about to come down, a couple who gave up teaching this summer and have lived on board for seven weeks had been out for a jolly for the day with a friend. When it came to swap keys the panel wouldn’t release theirs. We dropped their boat down and brought Oleanna in, the key was still stuck. We filed the lock and then went to work the barriers on the bridge just above. Ah ha! One of them hadn’t been closed properly. Problem solved we could all carry on our way.

We pulled in where we’ve moored before during a storm, just opposite Staniland Marina. Here Tilly can explore trees and hopefully the trees are fairly young so will provide shelter rather than be a danger.

Toad in the Hole

To celebrate being back in Yorkshire we had toad in the hole with a glass or two of wine. It had been a long eventful day and sadly not for the right reasons. We were bushed, just hope Les and Clive are as best as they can be.

3 locks, 23.5 miles, 2 lefts, 10 bridges, 22 held up, 6 soggy boaters, 2 bacon butties, 6 sausages in holes, 0 shore leave it was too late! 1 almost full water tank, 1 ambulance, 1 more drawing to do, 1 sunny day in Cornwall, 1 cancelled digs, 1 solution, 1 missing weekend.

2 thoughts on “Bacon Butties, Bananas And A Break. September 26th

    1. Pip Post author

      Unfortunately Les is still in hospital, a bit more than a plaster cast is required to mend her ankle.

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