Friday, 21 September 2007

Sailing on the River Witham and the River Trent.

The return trip. Sailing from Boston to Nottingham. Well it’s time to bring Aretia back to Nottingham. The planned trip is to take the boat along the River Witham from Boston to Lincoln, then joining the Fossdyke Navigation and taking us through to join the tidal River Trent at Torksey. A left turn, and up the Trent through Cromwell Lock, through Newark and then on to Gunthorpe just outside of Nottingham where we’ll take the ship out overland to Langar marina. A total expected distance of 117km. Originally the plan was for a leisurely 4 day trip taking in the pubs on the way. However best laid plans and all that, family and work commitments meant a 2 day run became necessary. Sunday 9th September I got the train over to Boston to get the boat ready. John arrived at 1830pm and we set straight off up the Witham. It’s a great little river with a depth of between 4.5m and 2.5m and pretty wide. There is not a lot to see on the way though as for one the banks are pretty high and two we were navigating a night. The plan was to get as far up river as we could then over to Torksey the following day. The navigation is fairly straight forward, no locks to bother about for us until the morning. As the mast was down we had to mackle together the Nav. lights. We used the deck Port and Starboards along with a B&Q Solar Garden light (ideal). It must have been a first no incidents and us moored up at Bardney Village for 2330pm Distance covered. 32km Monday 10th September Up at just after 0600am and on with the trip. The first lock was Bardney. Reasonably obvious where to swing in so long as you are alert. This is one of only two locks between Boston and Torksey. After Bardney which was a manual lock for which you don’t require any keys for apart from the Toilets and Showers you can make our Lincoln Cathedral in the distance. Useless Fact 18 Lincoln Cathedral was the first building to be constructed in the world which was higher than the Ancient Pyramids of Egypt. It originally had a wooden spire as opposed to the current stone one. A dash along here with the navigation narrowing and depth down to 2m you start to enter the suburbs of Lincoln. Here the first obstacle is Stamp End Lock. This is a rare guillotine lock which is electrically operated by BWB Key. Quite impressive. Watch out for high water flow though if they are releasing from the adjacent sluice. On through Lincoln to ‘Glory Hole which takes you under some of ye Olde Shoppes and in to Brayford Pool. Note there are two entrances out of Brayford. Don’t try the railway bridge one! From Brayford it was on to the Fossdyke Navigation which is thought to be the oldest artificial canal in the UK AD120 it was built. The navigation is straight forward with a a couple of small villages and marinas along the way which stock fuel and supplies. The Railway runs alongside as well. Depth does becomes something to watch. We clipped just under 1m at point. Finally reaching Torksey at around 1pm after completing the 17km from Lincoln. A total for the day of 32km. The lock itself is quite unique and is a nice place to hold up until we can lock through the tidal Trent. I would however suggest not dining at the nearby pub. After order a burger and chip for £8.00 the chips came out raw and the burger was still frozen in the middle. On requesting a second go the burger came out Ok but still with frozen fries. Absolutely diabolical. Tuesday 11th September An early rise after spending the night on the ship to lock through to the Trent. We were joined by another 4 motor cruisers who showed more than a little interest in our voyage. We were a little surprised by the lack of depth on exiting the lock though. Just over 0.5m. Not one for a deep keel vessel then. Working our way upstream to Cromwell lock which marks the boundary between tidal and fresh Trent; we followed the lead motor cruiser. The weather was absolutely cracking, sun and a little warmth. It was also surprising the number of sandbanks/sunken islands on this section. No wonder we heard the story that one of the gravel captains had been aground 14 times in recent years. Crowell lock was made just after 10.30am. A very, very large lock even a little daunting , but designed to accommodate the large fluctuations in river depth during heavy rainfall and Spring tides. After Cromwell all was straight forward passing Nether Lock, Newark Town Lock and on to or penultimate lock at Hazelford. This is perhaps the most scenic section of river. Perhaps similar to the Wye in it lower reaches. After a quick pull in to Morton for lunch which we had missed by 10mins we made our way to Gunthorpe and into Kingfisher Marina. This where we had decided to take Aretia out. It’s never straight forward taking a boat out at an unfamiliar slip. This was the case this time as well. Once the yard owner arrived we looked at the slip and it seemed a little short. The owner however assured us that the trailer could drop off the end of slip and we could still recover the boat. With a little of the usual swearing and having to get in to the wet stuff, Aretia was on here was by trailer to her home port of Langar Marina. A bit of a strip down is planned for next week then a few day on Rutland prior to the end of the season.

 
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