SUNDAY 3RD TO THURSDAY 7TH JUNE 2012
We did enjoy the Thames Pageant, despite the obvious shortcomings of the BBC presentation; it was evident that most of the presenters had very little knowledge of the boats and their history. In particular, one chap thought it was miraculous that the Royal Barge could move sideways towards the jetty, had he never heard of side thrusters, which almost every sizeable boat has these days. One high spot was the interview with Chris, who was skippering the tug that had taken the coastal route from Goole to the Thames, I was fortunate to meet Chris one cold, bright January day last year, when I was invited to join the crew, whilst he had command of Ouse Patrol on her trip from Selby down to the Boat Museum at Goole.
Monday passed quietly and at last our chums arrived in Newark about lunch time on Tuesday. We settled our bill at Newark Marina and moved SKYY back onto the river to moor up on the wall just in front of N.B. Angonoka. Duggie and Cressie were overjoyed to meet each other again, recognition being immediate and spent the rest of the day chasing and wrestling one another, whilst we chatted away to Don and Judy over a glass or two of wine.
A relatively early start for us on Wednesday as we cast off at nine o’clock, let the current turn us round and headed for Nether Lock, we beat the lock keeper to it, but were soon on our way to Cromwell Lock, The Tidal lock of the Trent. Our timing was perfect, within half an hour of our arrival we entered the lock along with an immaculate plastic cruiser and four other narrow boats, including Angonoka and shortly after eleven o’clock we exited on the real start of this year’s adventure.
One hears all sorts of horror stories about the Tribal Tent, as I am known to refer to this part of the river, but today its benign waters aided by the sunshine, held no fears for us. The Boating Associations guide, with its Google maps and clearly indicated route to avoid the numerous shoals, sunken island and gravel banks ensured we were in no danger of running aground on our three hour passage to Torksey. In fact a loaded gravel barge, coming towards appeared to be taking a much tighter course around one of the many bends, but best to be safe. The flat landscape was enlivened by a topless windmill and iconic cooling towers.
The only down side was that one of the narrow boat skippers decided it was the TT race course and was determined to pass everybody, forcing us all off our chosen course and naturally arriving at Torksey less than five minutes before the rest of us, I bet he drives a 4x4 and keeps changing lanes on a motorway. The swing into Torksey was much wider and easier than I imagined and was accomplished without having to turn and come back up against the current. We spent the rest of the day on the pontoon just before the lock and dined on Angonoka.
On Thursday morning we locked up onto the Fossdyke Canal, this lock has more lock gates, than I have had hot dinners, an exaggeration, but it could cope with every contingency, that a River Trent in flood could throw at it. This canal or dyke is the oldest in England having first been dug by the Romans back in 120A.D. and like most Roman roads is, in the main, dead straight.The lock keeper was very informative and suggested that we moor at Saxilby, about five miles up, where good fish and chips and a bus service into Lincoln could be had, so we took his advice.