Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The Trent and the Chesterfield–Day 1

The subtle murmuring of diesel engines at half past too early awoke us from our slumber.  The other three boats on the visitor moorings had an appointment with the lock keeper.  Unlike us, they were going to Torksey which is almost twice the distance we’re going.  Our scheduled departure was at the far more civilized hour of 9.30am.  There was time for us to dispose of the rubbish and top up the water tank before wandering up to the control tower to seek advice and information from the friendly lock keeper.  He showed me the CRT booklet map of the Trent and after examining it I decided the Waterway Routes map was superior.

At 9.25 the lock keeper operated the swing bridge and opened the lock top gates allowing us to enter the lock.


We were going up onto the river and the current looked rather fast.  To complicate our exit from the lock a ship was being loaded immediately upstream from the lock entrance.


The advice from the lock keeper was to aim the boat upstream into the current when exiting the lock and allow it to drag the bow around thus avoiding the bow of the ship.  We followed his instructions but there are NO photos of this manoeuvre as I was too busy steering and Jan was clinging to the cockpit handrail.  The current did drag us around and we were off like a cork from a champagne bottle. P1020790

We had been told to plan for a 2 hour cruise arriving at Stockwith Lock on the change of the tide.  Waiouru happily purred along at 1500rpm enjoying the depth of the water.  After our exit we could have done with a tipple from the “Take a Gander” on the far bank but we were being swept along.


The last of the shipping was moored just before the King George IV lift bridge.  After this point there’s no commercial traffic on the river.


The lock keeper informed us the bridge was last lifted in 1956.  There was a rather unusual mosque on the west bank.


The first thing we noticed was; unlike our experience on the River Ouse in 2014; there wasn’t much in the way of flotsam in the water.  We did see the branch of a tree and Jan took this next photo of something we managed to avoid.


I’d used Paul’s digital map (Waterway Routes) as a planning tool and worked out the halfway point.  We reached it in 45 minutes which was far too soon, consequentially we cut the engine revs back to 1000rpm.  I realized we were going to be early at Stockwith Lock when we were 15 minutes out so I put the engine into neutral and we drifted with the current.  Jan phoned the lock keeper to advise were were getting close and was told it would take him 5 minutes to prepare the lock.  Shortly before the lock entrance we passed the entrance to the River Idle flood gates.


Despite arriving exactly 2 hours after our departure it was obvious the tide was still coming in. 


Lock entrance beyond the bow

We drifted past the lock entrance with the lock keeper signalling for us to turn 180° and come up against the flood wall.  It was during this manoeuvre that I realized just how fast the current was with me having to use far more than 1500rpm to complete the turn.  I was too busy to look at the engine revs but it must have been close to 2000.


1500rpm was just sufficient to move Waiouru very very slowly against the current and we gradually moved her across the river and against the wall in the above photo.  I thought we would wait there until the current abated but the lock keeper wanted us in the lock.  We moved forward slowly until the bow was across the lock entrance and I then turned the tiller hard right and used some power to turn the boat into the lock.  Of course there wasn’t an audience when we completed this intricate manoeuvre.

IMG_0029That was so much fun we’ll have to do it again when we go further up to Torksey Lock.

Ade, I believe there is much more to see on the Trent than the Ouse.  When compared with today’s trip up the Trent, the flood banks on the Ouse seemed far higher and restricted the view.

We’re now on the Chesterfield Canal and it’s a complete contrast to the last couple of months. Very rural and quiet!  However it’s also shallow in places and there are copious quantities of what I refer to as ‘mermaids hair’.  It’s that long green hair like weed that happily binds itself into a tight bundle around the propeller. 


This weed had a significant impact upon boat speed; particularly after our recent experience on the Trent.  I was starting to think about giving up on the Chesterfield but then we reached Bridge 79 and the weed didn’t appear to be as much of a problem.

Chesterfield Canal

Right arrow - Bridge 79.  Left arrow – tonight’s mooring.

A very pleasant rural mooring with almost no foot traffic.  I must take a photo before we leave.  After mooring, the first job was to send the son down the weed hatch (no work – no food!).  He managed to retrieve one lost heavy duty plastic bag (slightly damaged) and enough hair to make wigs for six mermaids.


Naughty-Cal said...

I would recommend you get a copy of the Trent chart for the remainder of your trip up the Trent, The further upstream you get the shallower it becomes and the channel isn't always where you would expect. You will also need to know the correct span to use at the bridges which isn't always the most obvious one.

There have been many boats caught out over the years, don't wan't you to be another one of them!

Tom and Jan said...

Thanks for the suggestion. My digital map was updated last year and shows which bridge span to use along with the submerged obstructions, etc. But I will check it against the lock keepers chart when we return to Stockwith.

Pip and Mick said...

Sounds like you had a good trip.
I would agree with NC re the charts. However not having seen the Waterways Routes version I am not really qualified to comment. We ourselves are heading that way so I might invest in a Waterways Routes River Trent download and compare the two.
The entrance into Torksey is much easier, it's a wide channel, 200 or so metres long that leads to the lock. There are floating pontoon visitor moorings in this channel below the lock if you don't want to penn up at that time. It's interesting being moored there as the flood tide comes in, you certainly notice it.

Naughty-Cal said...

The cut moorings are also closer to the pub :)

Tom and Jan said...

True! And the friendly locals a quick to advise where the nearest can be found. :-)