A date of Friday 16-Jun-23 for the Mersey Crossing was chosen very early in the year, thankfully, all factors came together and with a good weather forecast the date towards the end of our Liverpool visit was confirmed.
The day started at 08:00am with the Pilot’s briefing to the Captains at the moorings, instructing on us how the river crossing would proceed, then the passage on the Manchester Ship Canal and locking onto the Weaver Navigation. The Pilot would be on the lead boat of Clara Grace, his Assistant on the end boat of Elemiah, Dabbling and Cormorant 2 in-between. Casting-off from our moorings, the four boats headed through the southerly docks to the Marina and Brunswick Lock beyond. Through the lock, just before high-tide, we immediately crossed the eastern ‘Garston’ shipping channel, then straight across the middle (free of the ‘big ships’) for approximately 0.75 nautical mile and on reaching the western Eastham shipping channel we turned south for approximately 3.5 nautical miles to the Eastham Lock at the head of the Manchester Ship Canal.
As part of the Pilot’s briefing, we were given the published ship movements on the river for the day. Three ships were scheduled to transit Eastham Lock, one out first and then two in. The Lockkeeper was proposing to bring us up with the second ship in as it was smaller. As we neared Eastham the ship out had recently left the lock, so we kept to the right – there were plenty of horns and waving exchanged as we passed. Our flotilla arrived at the Lock with the first ship in nearby behind us, so we rafted in two lots of two to a side wall, out of the way and to wait for the smaller second ship. While waiting, Ged from Dabbling had the ‘Boat Watch’ app up on his phone and located that the ship who was to be our lock companion was still out in the estuary and a way off entering the river. The Pilot, after getting over his surprise at Ged’s phone app, communicated with the Lockkeeper who let us in the lock by ourselves and we passed up onto the ship canal – by now the tide had turned on the ebb.
Making good progress on the canal, we then had to hold as the first ship that was being manoeuvred by two tugs through a 180 degree turn onto its mooring at the refinery. When clear we passed, but then soon had to pull over and hold as the second ship had caught us up and they had priority. Now clear of the ships, we completed our canal cruise of approximately 8 nautical miles to Marsh Lock to give us passage onto the Weaver Navigation.
A short way down the Weaver was the ‘Steamship Danny’, a converted historic steam-powered tug, where our Pilot and his Assistant left us. Many thanks to our Pilot, Stuart Wood, for his co-ordination and guidance that allowed the 4Cs to experience another ‘great day’s’ cruising’.
Sadly, the Northern Cruise ended a few days later with the passage up the Anderton Boat Lift onto the Trent & Mersey canal. Elemiah needed to return to its mooring and the crew return home. Cormorant 2 needed to head to a temporary mooring at Tattenhall Marina on the Shropshire Union canal and the crew return home for a few weeks. Clara Grace and Dabbling had proposed to sail the southerly Pennine route via the Macclesfield and Huddersfield canals, but the hot and dry weather meant CRT were putting in place ‘water resources’ restrictions !!, another year maybe?
Farewell Commodore & Paddy
Report by Gerard Bird – nb Dabbling, images Various
Next, read about the boats that went on the Lancaster Click here