COTSWOLDS CANALS CRUISING CLUB
In very brief precis, the facts:
Boats attending:- 7 + (1 Crossing at the same time)
Locks Used:- 2
Distance Covered: approx. 55 miles.
This of course tells none of the story! The cruise was organised mainly for those who’d never been across the “Real” ocean in a Narrowboat, or who had missed the first 4C’s crossing in 2014 – or both!
Of the seven boats, two, Unique (U) with Lynn and Roger Mellors and Cormorant 2 (C2) with Lynn and Bob Hallam had made the crossing before, so were rather less anxious than some members.
Since the crossing can only be made when the tide ranges are neither too great (Spring Tides) or too little (neap tides) the window of opportunity is around one week, about once per month. We elected to go during June, as an early start could be requested by the Pilot – Daryl Hill.
Daryl requested very little in the way of boat preparation “Hit things like to fall off with a hammer, make sure your weed hatch seals are good.” In fact he wasn’t overly concerned about cleanliness of the fuel – that is up to each owner. There was a caveat. “The Wash will show up dirty fuel!” Marine VHF desirable.
So, Tony of Elemiah went on a course, bought the polishing gear and checked his own fuel. Wet and dirty! (he was on the home mooring mind) He also volunteered to check and if necessary polish, anyone else’s at basically cost price – a most generous offer. Of the fuel he checked, I’m pleased to say that NONE needed treatment (other than his own when he was still at home!).
No events or gatherings were organised en-route to Boston, participants were asked to be on the CaRT visitor moorings at least by the day before planned departure.
This was a cue for a number of boats to watch fighter and other aircraft, tourist around Boston Town and explore the “Maude Foster Drain” a navigable drainage channel in the heart of Boston. All found it interesting, especially the 180º turn at the end!
Although Cormorant II (2 not 11) was first to arrive in Boston, as the crew had to return home for a visit from Oz by daughter and Grandsons. By the time they returned 48 hours before departure, all other boats and respective crews had arrived.
Cormorant 2 – Lynn and Bob Hallam
Clara Grace – Hilary and Ric Whitby
Elemiah – Tony Little and Mo Waghorn
The Great Escape – Mo and Mike Wood
Unique – Lynne and Roger Mellors
Dabbling – Jan and Ged Bird
Yorkshire Bourne – Denise and Steve Harrison
We also found and encouraged an additional boat to join us – “Sagittarius” with Glynn and Pat Williams.
In time-honoured fashion, we celebrated our grand arrival (and impending departure) with a Boston Tea Party – but substituting Pimm’s for tea.
Although no pictures are known to exist, the entire group had a most convivial meal (aka “The Last Supper”) at a local hostelry, where one lady managed to obtain a very attractive drinking vessel, she was heard to explain that, “It holds more than the one I normally use.”
The following day had a good weather forecast, calm (?) wind not forecast more than 3, tide good ) a bit early at 08:00 (ish), so we were asked by Daryl (The Pilot) to be at the Boston Grand Sluice (and lock) at 07:30. The day dawned a bit misty, one or two boats may have got lost but for excellent teamsmanship and observation by all involved.
The boats were lined up in pairs, slowest at the front, quickest at the back of the convoy. All were asked to listen on VHF for guidance from the pilot, relayed by the team leader.
Immediately before the departure, the Pilot gave us his final briefing, and the Team Leader was interviewed by the reporter from “Towpath Talk”
Follow this link, turn over to page 8-9:
There is also a video clip of the boats passing through the Grand Sluice lock here:
For interest, the lock is 47 feet long and opens for long vessels when the tide makes a level. Both sets of gates are then opened and we have about two minutes to get all boats through.
Now in line astern, we proceeded down The Haven, carefully avoiding work going on for the new barrier which will provide Boston with better protection from tidal surges.
So, onwards towards the open sea -The Wash! As we approached, we formed up into pairs to provide assistance in case of emergency.
Forming into pairs for the crossing
About 7 miles out to sea, sky blue, wind freshening
Note the angle of the boats as the tidal flow influences direction.
The tide falls so far that we cannot make Wisbech with one tide, so we beach on a sandbank for a short time. It also doubles as an RAF bombing range. (We don’t go on Thursdays!!)
Large numbers of seals occupy the sandbank as we approach. The highlight for most is to beach (with varying degrees of success) on the sandbank.
The obligatory Group Photo.
Soon after an impromptu Pimm’s o’clock, it was time to catch the incoming tide to Wisbech.
As we were sliding off the sandbank, the wind rose to almost uncomfortable – but no dangerous levels. The pilot had been informed of a ship inbound for Wisbech, so we moved off the sandbank, and dropped anchor to wait for it.
An interesting experience with one boat anchored and one or two breasted up to it.
The ship had decided to wait! So, the Pilot requested permission to proceed from the Wisbech Harbourmaster, we weighed anchor and began a more comfortable passage to the harbour.
After a bit of manoeuvring, we all tied safely against the tide and recounted our day of memories which very few Narrowboat owners get to do. The bad part about the evening was realising that Todays early start was a primer for tomorrow’s! The tide dictates that if you leave too late to get to Dog in a Doublet lock, you’ll hit one of the bridges in Wisbech!