Tuesday 2nd August.
Yesterday evening I was most surprised to hear the two live aboards moored behind me start their engines. And then, at 5.30pm, they both took off into the flood tide and swung round into the current, before breasting up and taking off upstream. I thought they were either pissed, stoned or just crazy, but it so happened that slack water was at 6pm and then the flood tide would carry them upstream. How the guy got his engine sorted, I don’t know, but it is not .a chance that I would dare take.
The tide is ebbing fast from left to right.
When the tide turned it was coming from behind Stronghold and banging the rudder against the stop, so the only way to stop that was to put the tiller on and hold it straight with the tiller strings.
In the morning, I decided to up the peak engine revs, with thoughts of turning into Keadby Lock. Normally the stop is set at 2000 rpm, but now it would rev to over 2500rpm out of gear. What I failed to realise was the 2000rpm is the max it will do in gear anyway, so all a little pointless.
Nicholson’s stated that bow and stern lines necessary for Keadby had to be at least 25ft long, so this had to be organised too. I had already made a booking for the lock the day before and told the lockie that I would radio him well before I got there.
Taking off with the flood tide going like the clappers of hell was not easy, as I had to turn round to face the current. That done, my speed was all of 1mph and did not start to increase for 15mins to 2mph as previously described. Eventually I was up to speed and bowled along with the ebbing current. No markers now, so I kept a close eye on the map to verify my position all the way. One is never out of sight of a power station on this river, but few of them are shown on the map, which appears to be an oversight by someone.
I was expecting to do this trip in about four hours, but actually it took only 3hrs 10mins. On sighting Keadby Bridge, I made a VHF call to the lock – no reply. I made another two calls, but still no reply – panic! Fortunately, I had the phone number saved on my mobile, so called him on that, to which there was a reply – big relief!
Keadby Bridge with the largest boat seen so far.
The lock was now in sight and I started to turn, hoping that I had enough power to cross the current and shoot straight in – not so! Instead, at the last minute, I turned up into the current before letting the boat drift back until the bow was level with the top side wall then applied the power to turn in without hitting anything – scary stuff!
Safely in Keadby Lock.
The lockie very slowly filled the lock and then opened the swing bridge before I made my exit, only to be confronted with this...........
Duckweed as far as the eye can see.
Keadby Lock and swing bridge.
I moored up at the water point, before moving up behind another narrow boat on the visitor moorings. Although there was someone on board, my knocking did not arouse him from whatever state he was in. With so many swing bridges to do on this stretch, I could do with some company tomorrow.