Indigo Dreaming

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The Odyssey 2011: Day 32

Posted by indigodream on 13 August, 2011

Tuesday 26th July

Saxilby (Fossdyke Navigation) to Muskham Ferry (River Trent)

A trip to Lincoln by train…. then getting flushed out of a lock

Lincoln scene (1)...

We had the best part of a full day’s wait for the tide at Torksey so we decided to have a quick trip ito Lincoln – we’ve never been there before, though one of our old friends hails from the area. We were very slow to get going – there is one train an hour to Lincoln and we missed one, then another, while we willed ourselves to move. Interestingly, the moorings had really filled up during the evening and by the time we emerged they were full. We invited nb Quodlibet to brest up to us – it would be a guaranteed mooring spot for them later as we had to move on by 3pm. We had a nice chat with them and shared a decent coffee.

We finally got a late morning train and, because he seemed so keen, we took Lynx with us. We left Lou behind – she’s really not been well with her muscles and we thought a walk around town would be too much for her.

We got to the station in good time and joined a surprisingly busy 2-carriage train to Lincoln – the next stop. We’d only have a couple of hours in the city so we were a bit dismayed at the queue to buy tickets at Lincoln station (for the princely sum of £4.90 for two!). But we needn’t have worried – Lincoln has a compact town centre and it was easy to get around for a quick look in the time available.

We enjoyed the town centre with its range of old and new shops. We explored the basin, though from the land we couldn’t work out whether there were moorings available or not. There were several occupied pontoons but they looked like a marina. The basin was very pleasant and we were interested to see the ‘high flow’ warning on the channel leading to the Witham navigation beyond. We then took a wander up to the aptly named “Steep Hill” for a look at the magnificent cathedral and remains of the castle. As always we were stunned by the foresight of their builders – these thousand-year-old cathedrals are unique – I doubt whether anything we build today has a hope of lasting a fraction of that time.

We were having a lovely time, with Lynx lapping up all the fuss and attention as always, when we had a cat incident – we hadn’t realised, but one of Lincoln’s street has a shop cat which likes to sit in doorways and attack passing dogs (honest!). There was a bit of a fracas – Lynx was unhurt and the cat got away – I got scratched! It was all very embarrassing – the cat’s owner was apologising for her cat’s behaviour (he’s notorious) and was concerned that Lynx had been hurt; we were more concerned about her cat! We hope that it was ok – we offered to wait while she checked him out and offered to contribute to any vet’s bills, but she thought he’d be fine and we left, unable to do any more.

After that excitement we needed a sit down and some refreshment so we had an excellent lunch at High Bridge cafe, whose ancient building straddles the navigation. We sat outside and had a superior sandwich and coffee while my heart rate slowly returned to normal. We’d taken a sheepskin for Lynx so he settled comfortably while the waitresses made a big fuss of him – he took it all with great aplomb.

We got the train back to Saxilby in good time and found out that it is possible to turn a 60′ narrowboat at the Saxilby moorings between the railway and road bridges – we had about 18″ to spare but the canal is deep! The kindly crew of nb Quodlibet (who’d found a proper mooring space while we were out) came to help – the man of the boat tugged Indigo Dream’s back around which gave us a bit more leeway.

Saxilby to Torksey

Interesting side-arm on the Fossdyke navigation - I doubt whether Indigo Dream would fit in there though!

We noticed a few more items of interest on the way back to Torksey – there are services at Saxilby – access via the footbridge to the ‘road’ side of the canal – there’s also a water point on the offside beyond the footbridge. There’s an interesting side ‘drain’ that runs off from the canal at Tom Otter’s bridge – I wondered if it was navigable – by smaller craft than us, of course. There are signs warning of “deer ramps” that extend several metres into the canal – now I imagined that these would be smooth ramps but they’re just piles of rocks – it sparked off a trail of questions – how do the deer cope with the jumbled rocks? Can deer read – how do they know where the ramps are?:-)

A little further on there is a long platform – “ummm, nice mooring” I thought – but it is a ramp and platform for “less able anglers”.

We got to Torksey in good time and were astonished to see 10 or more boats queuing for the lock (which was firmly shut). We stopped off at the fuel point and filled with diesel – I took the hounds for a long pre-tideway walk and Richard tried to negotiate our passage through the lock. The majority of the waiting boats were part of a  flotilla from Leicester who were just going down to the lock with a view to mooring overnight on the pontoons below to catch the 6am tide the following morning. We, on the other hand, needed to get to Cromwell Lock, which shuts at 9pm – it made a lot of sense for use to go out  in the first locking.

But that wasn’t to be for a while – we’d understood that they could lock us onto the river at 5pm – when we got there the lockies said “no, high tide’s not until 6.45pm – we won’t have enough water over the cill for hours yet” – Oh no, if we couldn’t get out of the lock until that time we’d have to fly in order to get to Cromwell. There is a mooring pontoon below Cromwell lock but we hadn’t scouted out it’s suitability for hounds, so although that was an option for us we’d rather get off the tideway this evening. We made the lockie aware of our situation and he said he’d see what he could do – we settled down to wait….

Torksey to Muskham Ferry

Tidal Trent: Now there's a boating combination that you don't usually meet 🙂

At 6pm, the lock-keeper called us to the lock and told us that there was enough water to flush us out of the lock – ooh errr! We entered the lock and, as instructed, passed ropes through the guide wires right at the front of the lock – the lockies emptied the lock and we were ready to push a few revs as they opened the top paddles and sent a wash of water down the lock. It was all very thrilling – Indigo Dream was basically sitting on the side cill as we found when we tried to move her before the water arrived. Full revs and the first  bit of water got us moving, Richard then throttled back, lifting the back just before we got to the main cill. By this time Eric had opened both paddles and the wall of water flowing down the lock was enough to literally flush us over the cill and we were on our way!

We hadn’t realised what a dramatic sight is must have been – the boats moored below the locks commented “have you just been flushed?” – apparently Indigo Dream flew out of the lock!

It was the start of an exciting few hours – as we entered the tideway I looked back towards Torksey viaduct and there was the looming sight of a huge gravel barge coming upriver behind us. We hit the revs – with a low high tide we really didn’t want to be overtaken – we’d have to give way to the barge but wondered whether we’d then run aground to make room for them. Best not to find out really, so on we went!

The next bit of excitement was the waterskiers – now that’s a first. We maintained a steady course and let the speedboats work around us – they’re far more manoeuvrable – though it came as a shock to see the skiers themselves at right angles to the boats. The speedboats created a huge wash considering they’re so tiny – as usual we turned into the waves but had to be quick to get back on course and into the deep channel.

With the twists and turns in the river, the barge behind us was out of sight most of the time, but on the odd straight it looked as if it was slowly gaining on us. We kept the revs up and eventually left it  behind. This gave us the next drama – I heard a noise and commented to Richard that the bilge pump was running – uh oh, that’s not good. We slipped into neutral and lifted the back deck plate – there were several inches of water in the engine bilges – a quick burst of gear showed that it was the water being driven in through the weed hatch. Richard checked the seals, reinstated the hatch and used our mooring mallet to tighten the screw fixing. We tried the engine again – no more leaks – phew!

The last bit of excitement was the sight of a cruiser – apparently grounded – we came a bit closer to see if we could offer them a snatch but they were anchored and enjoying an evening’s fishing!

The barge did loom from time to time - but it never caught up!

We got to Cromwell lock with half an hour to spare – the lock was ready for us and we were relieved to be off the tideway – the mooring pontoons below the lock are fine if you can stay on your boat, but the ramp up to shore is precipitous – Lou would never have managed it (I might have had trouble too!).

It seemed to take an age to fill Cromwell Lock – it is enormous and Indigo Dream seemed quite lost and alone in the vast chamber.

With the light waning, we pressed on to Muskham Ferry and this time we moored easily – there was no wind and the river had next to no flow. We tied our centre ropes a little differently so that we wouldn’t be troubled by their creaking overnight. The pub had stopped serving food so I made a quick pasta and we took our supper up to the pub garden to eat. We had a pleasant evening and got chatting to some friendly locals – it made for a late night but we’d had a much more eventful day than we’re used to and a few beers seemed in order 🙂


Lincoln scene (2)....

Lincoln scene (3)....

Lincoln scene (4) - the city was heaving...

Lincoln Scene (5) - this street is called "Steep Hill"...

Lincoln Scene (6) - built before the plumb bob was invented?

Lincoln scene (7) - cathedral full of light...

Lincoln scene (8) - the castle..

Fossdyke navigation: the deer ramps are well signposted but you can see in the photo that they are made up of a jumble of rocks - not at all what I expected...

Tidal Trent: House overlooking Laleham Reach - stay near the centre of the river here!

Tidal Trent: We took lots of photos - it was such a novelty to be sharing the water with waterskiers!

Tidal Trent: Dunham moorings....

Tidal Trent: Locals demonstrating the correct technique for meeting oncoming gravel barges...

Tidal Trent: maybe we take the tideway too seriously - these guys are having great fun...

Tidal Trent: Marnham boat club moorings - might come in useful...

Tidal Trent: Look out for these variations on the water - shallow waters are sometimes smoother - there's a submerged island here....

Tidal Trent: Old gravel wharf with associated sunken barges...

Tidal Trent: Crepuscular rays - there was a good explanation of their science on Radio 4's "questions questions" this week!

Tidal Trent: Aground? No, just fishin'....

Tidal Trent: Useful depth gauge!

Tidal Trent: Don't fancy that mooring....

Tidal Trent: Tributary?

Tidal Trent: AWACS planes are a common sight around here...

Tidal Trent: Working wharf - most barges stop here but they sometimes turn upstream so it's still worth keeping a look-out...

Tidal Trent: Note the mooring bollards set at three different heights...

5 Responses to “The Odyssey 2011: Day 32”

  1. Capt Ahab said

    I got water in the weedhatch as I dashed for Keadby on a fast falling tide.

  2. indigodream said

    Hi Capt A – that makes me feel better though I’m glad that you didn’t sink either!

  3. Tobi said

    Hi Indigodream- I’m currently trying to track down my old narrow boat! I discivered she is still in the water by searching her registration number and found she was called QUODLIBET! I wonder if she is the one you talked about? Have you any info on where abouts she’s moored now/ have any pictures of her? Would love to see what she looks like now! Many thanks Tobi

  4. indigodream said

    My memory is that she was a relatively new boat with a “retired” couple on board who managed to spend their winters working and their summers doing some serious boating – a pretty good work life balance! I think they had the boat built for them in Reading but that is a very vague memory. Sue has found a photo from the day before which she will email to you,

  5. indigodream said

    Hi Tobi

    I have emailed you a photo!

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