Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Dodging the Debris

The Selby lock keeper replied to our message at 11.00am advising we could go through the lock at 12.00 noon and that we would be going with the second group.  Fortunately we had already visited Tesco earlier in the morning for essentials (beer and chocolate).

Jan worked Selby electric swing bridge which gave us access to the lock and the services.  A boat was already on the water point mooring with a Tupperware boat almost immediately behind.  We were able to position Waiouru at 90deg to the lock and then drag the hose along the roof feeding it down through the cratch to reach the bow tank.

We had scarcely started to fill the tank when the lock keeper indicated 5 minutes to go.  That had me in a bit of a tizz until Jan told me there was plenty of time because the first two boats had yet to enter the lock.

I had a good look at the lock.  There is a large steel stop gate a the canal end which I assume had the dual function of protecting the canal in the event the River Ouse floods and also enabling maintenance to be conducted on the lock when empty.

Hydraulically operated steel gate

The river end of the lock has the traditional groove in the stonework to enable the insertion of stop boards.

Jan was going to love working the capstans under the supervision of the lock keeper.  It would look a bit like the opening scene of Conan the Barbarian.  She could play the role of a “Jolly Tar”

Fortunately they are now decorative as the lock is fully electric.

I’d walked down to the lock earlier in the morning to check the exit onto the river.  It was low tide and the mud banks on either side of the lock approach were visible.

There was a specific reason for checking the lock at low tide.  We will be coming back down on the Ouse with the tide and will probably want to plan our entrance into the lock on the ebb.  It’s better to know where the mud banks are now and be able to plan for that rather than panic on the day.

The first two boats down were narrowboats.  One the same length as Waiouru and the other around 30ft.  I didn’t get to see them exit onto the river as I was busy with Waiouru.

The lock was refilled and the small Tupperware and Waiouru were directed to enter by the lock keeper.  We were instructed to use bow and stern lines to hold the boat whilst the lock keeper emptied the lock.  I suggested to the steerer of the Tuppperware that he should exist first.  I told him I didn’t want to crush his boat if I botched my exit.  However my real reason was to see how the tide affected his departure!

Selby Lock looking back towards the canal.

Jan’s view

Getting ready to leave the lock.  No photos of the actual departure because for some reason we both became preoccupied.

The lock keeper told me to take it slowly leaving the lock and allow the current to drag the bow around.  Only apply power when the bow was pointing upstream.  Jan stayed in the bow on lookout duty as the lock keeper had informed us there was a large amount of debris moving with the tide.

We exited as instructed and Waiouru promptly started to list alarmingly to port (upstream side) as the current pushed her side from downstream.  Once around I increased the engine to 1500rpm and we started to make headway with the tide.

Ahead we could see the Tupperware boat dodging all the debris going upstream with the tide.  He obviously needed to be more alert to the debris than us.

It didn’t take long for him to disappear out of sight.

Just around the corner is the Selby Railway Swingbridge.  Fortunately the air gap is of sufficient height that we didn’t require it to be open.   However it was open as they were doing maintenance on the far bridge abutment.

We exchanged friendly waves with the bridge operator and then Jan returned to the stern to join me for the remainder of the trip.  The lock keeper had informed me we would pass under a bridge about one hour after departing the lock and that we should go through the centre arch.  As it was we reached the bridge around 90 minutes after leaving the lock.

There was plenty of debris in the water.  Sue and Vic wouldn’t have to hunt for fire wood around here!

Just haul it out as they pass.  The size of the wet mud banks on either side gave an indication of how much the water level was affected by the tide.  Jan commented that there were no sign of crocs.  Not even Paul’s crocs! Smile

The bridge we had been told about was a swing bridge and this time it was closed.

Looking back.

With our luck we had to share the centre arch with a large pile of moving debris.  One of the boaters at Selby had warned us about a tight bend in the river and to ensure we kept to the middle to avoid running around on the mud banks.  As we approached this tight bend a large object could be seen floating in the water ahead of us.  It became apparent we were going to catch up with this object in the bend.  And so it came to pass that we navigated the bend with a bloated corpse of a cow bobbing alongside.  Ah the aroma!  At least we didn’t hit it!

The 30ft narrowboat then appeared in the distance.  Obviously it had been overtaken by the Tupperware.  We gradually gained on the boat and eventually overtook it.  This was a slight relief because we were no longer last.  I had this fear that if something had gone wrong and we were last, then it might take some time to get assistance.  At least we now knew that particular concern had been mitigated.

About 3km before Naburn Lock two boats passed us going in the opposite direction.  I assume their departure from Naburn Lock had been timed to coincide with the ebb of the tide at Selby Lock.  As we approached Naburn Lock we could see the weir, but not the lock.

To our surprise the first narrowboat and the Tupperware were waiting in the lock.

The lock keeper then waited for the small narrowboat to arrive before closing the gates.

So we had completed the tidal part of the Ouse.  Above the lock we knew it would be non tidal to York.  We’ve decided not to go beyond York as a number of local boaters have told us that at 58’6” we’re probably going to be too long for the locks and even if we did make it we’d almost certainly lose some paint.

Going up


Anonymous said...

Sounds like an interesting day. I was at Naburn Marina a few weeks ago but only with my bike, so it was a lot less stressful.
If you are staying in the area its worth checking out the cycle route on the old railway line. It has been done as a scale model of the solar system with all the planets spread out along the route. There is also a good honesty cafe there. Help your self and drop the money down a tube.

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Tom
We were stuck at Selby in September 09 with the Ouse in flood. Some pics here of the flood barrier in use, and more on the posts adjacent.

Tom and Jan said...


We are planning to spend at least one day at Naburn one the way back from York and I'll try to see the cycle route.

Thanks for the info


Tom and Jan said...


with water conditions like that it would have been an interesting turn into Selby Lock :-)

Narrowboat QISMA said...

I know your plans are made Tom but we had QISMA up to Ripon without difficulty. A 60 footer around at the same time, though they had trouble turning at Ripon and had to have the locks to themselves. We didn't and we have the Tim extra half!