Thursday 17 September 2015

"…Fact, nothing to laugh at, at all !"

Erin Mae was looking very untidily moored in the morning sun. I'd left the mooring lines very slack in case of a rise in the river level while we were sleeping. There's just enough flow on the branch down to Naburn Lock to catch the stern and swing it out.

Our second concern about a rise in the level was in case it got over the 1 metre mark – in that case, the lockie had said, no one is going down the lock!

But it was even lower than it had been the previous evening, so all was well. Even better, the storm of which the Met Office had warned passed across into the North Sea south of where we are, so there's been no more rain to swell the water-courses.

The rush of water over the weir that the lock bypasses still promised a white-knuckle ride down to Selby, but the top end of the tidal stretch was actually pretty slow moving.

We shared the lock with a solid-looking Dutch barge called Pisces,

and they pushed off down the river ahead of us. Apart from three boats we crossed with which had come up with the tide, we were almost the only thing moving on the river – not a lot of wildlife to be seen.

These cormorants seemed to be having their coffee break, or perhaps they'd been watching a meerkat movie. I never thought of cormorants as social birds, but there were other groups in other trees as well.

My best beloved took her turn at river cruising, but was happy to hand back to me as we neared out destination – Selby lock.

This was the bit we'd been warned about. This lock is not on the river – you turn off into it to join the Selby Canal. Meanwhile the combination of river flow and ebb tide means you are being swept past the entrance at what feels like a considerable pace.

Photo courtesy of – I was far too busy concentrating on not drowning to take photos. We were coming downstream – the opposite direction to the boat in the picture. The flow was too fast to turn straight into the lock.  I had to execute a 180˚ turn, starting before we reached it, which meant that at one point we were simply stretched across the river, being taken down broadside on. Fortunately the engine and tiller were up to the task, and we ended up below the lock, coming back slowly against the current. Then I had to judge how to get the bows into the lock cut, while the stern was still out in the flowing river.

I am pleased to say (ahem, ahem…) that it all went rather spiffingly. "No wrecks, and nobody drownded", as the poem goes (Marriott Edgar / Stanley Holloway). And not even an undesirable contact with a wall, or the bank, or the sandbank, or MV Pisces, which was waiting in the lock for us. So I've graduated to the next class.

Of course, in about four days it will be the tidal section of the Trent, which is supposed to be the biggest river in England by some measures. And that, I'm sure, will be another story.


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