Today is another blogging exception, except the cruising wasn’t on SKYY but on Ouse Patrol, this was the vessel that for years up until 2004 had daily plotted the deep water channel from Goole to Trent falls
Back last year on November the 11th Ouse Patrol slipped its mooring from just astern of SKYY at the Selby Boat Centre and headed off towards Goole, sadly it never made it beyond the swing bridge to Selby Basin, stopped by a overheating port engine and there it stayed, frozen in until a few days ago when on just the starboard engine it was eased into the relative safety of the basin. Fortunately the only damage from vandalism amounted to one broken and one cracked window, with nothing stolen or damaged.
A couple of days later Brian & John who had been looking after her called on me to say Hi and that the water cooler had been repaired and she was ready to head off on Friday, I asked if I could join them for the voyage to Goole Docks and at 9 o’clock on an icy cold Friday morning I was met by Brian, John and Chris who would be the skipper. The two six cylinder Lister engines were coaxed into life by Brian amidst clouds of white smoke and the good news was that there did appear to be sufficient water coming outboard from the port engine. John set about organising the ropes, Chris got the feel of the engine controls and my job was to scrape the ice off the out and insides of all the windows.
The Environment Agency guys pulled back the flood defence barrier in front of the lock, it had been a full moon two nights ago which can mean very high tides and Nigel the relief lock keep, open the lock gates crunching up the one inch thick ice that had formed overnight. The wash from the twin props broke up the ice behind us and Ouse Patrol was reversed back into the clear water before being nudged forward towards the lock entrance, the ice scrunched up all around us, but Chris got her in and Nigel went to work with his buttons and soon the boat was heading out and down stream and under the massive swing bridge that carries the Selby bypass over the river.
As the engines warmed up the smoke from the exhausts completely disappeared and all we left behind was a substantial bow wave, the generator was charging, both engines were running at the perfect temperature and oil pressure was fine, accepting that the port gauge in the wheelhouse was showing zero, but Brian said that the gauge in the engine room was fine.
Even though there was plenty of water in the river Chris kept the boat well away from the inside of the numerous bend as going aground on an ebb tide is not the thing to do. On our port side we passed the entrance to the River Derwent, which Chris said was now un-navigable, if you did manage to get up to the first lock which wasn’t operable there was no where to turn round. Shortly afterwards the cooling towers of Drax power station were on our right followed by the huge blades of dozen or so wind turbines.
Asselby Island was kept to our left; many boats have tried it the other way and have become stuck fast. Whilst traversing the island The River Aire joined us from the right, this river used to be navigable from West Haddersley, at the other end of The Selby Canal, but not now. We passed under the swinging part of Boothferry Swing Bridge of which Brian had a couple of interesting tales to tell and then under the central arch of the M62 Motorway. A few more twist and turns and under Goole Railway Swing Bridge and Goole harbour was in sight. If Victoria Lock was operational it would be a simple case of cruising straight in and just putting on the brakes before reaching the far end. As it is. Ocean lock is the one in use now and that faces down stream, Chris kept in tight to the harbour wall and slowed right down as he approached the jetty that jutted out in front of us, the other side of which the flow from the Dutch River joins the Ouse. Just before the jetty and side onto the entrance to the lock Chris put the helm over to port and just using the starboard engine swung the boat 250 deg so that it was now heading straight into this massive lock. John hooked to one of the locks ladders and up we went entering into the all most deserted port. We passed under a small bridge and on our left was the last three preserved Tom Puddings and their hydraulically operated lift and loading chute that used to pick up these tubs and empty the coal into waiting boats. The wooden water tower that provided the hydraulic pressure to operate it also looked very well preserved. There had been many of these towers dotted around port providing the pressure to operate the locks and cranes, but all gone now.
Ouse Patrol found a secure mooring close to the Waterways Museum into whose care she may find herself. The crew had all really enjoyed the trip especially as the boat had behaved so well. Chris ran us all back to Selby to collect the vehicle that they had arrived in and to drop me off, thanks guys for your friendship and a great morning on the river and good fortune to Ouse Patrol.