TUESDAY 19TH TO TUESDAY 26TH JUNE 2012
To have arrived at the Dog in the Doublet tidal lock just before high tide, a few miles downstream from Peterborough, would have meant leaving Wisbech at 6am on Tuesday morning; this didn’t appeal so we spent a very pleasant day wandering around Wisbech. Like so many towns in this area it had once been wealthy and the merchant’s houses looking at each other across the river were very elegant and half way along on the right side was the Red Lion pub where we enjoyed lunch.
It was fascinating watching the flow on the river from the comfort of our chairs on the pontoon and suddenly the flow stopped. We consulted one or the guys from the marina and he confirmed that this would indeed be a good time to turn our boats around so that they would be pointing in the right direction for tomorrow mornings departure, but this slack water would only last for about fifteen minutes. No sooner said than done and with the boats still tied together we headed a little way down stream and as before with one engine astern and the other forward we swung round and just got back and tied up to the pontoon before the incoming tide started to push upstream. We could sleep easy now.
We departed Wisbech at 6.30 am Wednesday and had a delightful three hour cruise, carried by the incoming tide almost all the way to the Lock. Mick welcomed us in, but informed us that we would not be able to get onto the Middle Level via Stanground Lock as it was closed up tight to prevent a toxic chemical spillage that had polluted the river Nene, from getting onto the Levels. Also a ‘Strong Stream’ warning was in place preventing us from travelling further up the Nene than Peterborough. We would be stuck here for a few days, but the situation could have been far worse. We waved goodbye to Kim and John as they boarded a taxi to take them to the station, before using the convenient facilities and moving a little out of town before mooring up.
Thursday and Friday we relaxed, the one downside of being here was the huge number of dead fish, killed by the spillage, which were floating down the river and lodging around the stern of our boats, mostly predators, big pike etc. and some eels, we kept sweeping them away but within an hour another dozen or so would have collected. The city centre is very attractive, pedestrianized with fountains in front of the old market square and cathedral, with plenty of spaces to sit and people watch.
The really good news is that Jacquie’s son and girlfriend had announced their engagement and on Saturday we took the opportunity top hop on train and tube to South London to enjoy a celebratory dinner with them with. We travelled back on Sunday, Duggie now having experienced every form of transport except flying and proving himself bomb proof.
In the meantime Don had booked our passage through Stanground Lock with Tina for 10.30am on Monday; twenty four hour notice has to be given for this lock and now that the pollution threat to the Levels had passed Tina would be able to let us through. We used the facilities for the last time before travelling down the cut to the lock and then it all went pear shaped. Don’s boat was too high to pass under a bridge over the lock, we both might have been able to have got through if we entered astern, but where as our 57ft would be able to turn again after the lock, Angonoka’s 60ft would have had to have gone astern for a mile or so before being able to turn. Tina said that providing there was no more rain, by the end of the week the water level should have dropped sufficiently to get us under the bridge and through the lock in the traditional way, nose first.
A disappointment, but time to attend to some odd jobs, plus doctor’s appointment for repeat subscriptions etc. One of those jobs was to fit a car 12v cigarette lighter socket to SKYY. We are turning off the inverter at night, as I now understand that even if there is no draw on the inverter, there is still a substantial drain on the batteries Night-time, however is a good time to charge the mobile phones, now, via 12v phone chargers we can charge them much more efficiently. Happily on Wednesday the water stopped flooding over the river bank and we are now booked in for 10am on Thursday, fingers crossed.