Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Crash, bang ,Wallop.

6 Locks, 13 miles now moored at Eaton Socon, Great River Ouse

Despite yesterdays rain the water level in the marina had been up overnight but by breakfast time this morning had dropped. After checking EA's floodline and website there appeared to be no reason why we couldn't set off towards Huntingdon. Getting out of the marina and heading off to Cardington lock there didn't seem to be a problem. Approaching the lock which is at right angle's to a weir we saw that it was open so I started to line the boat up to go straight in. The theory was correct but in practice it didn't work because the flow over the weir started to take the stern away from the lock quicker than the bow was entering the lock. Applying full power we managed to crash and bounce our way in but not before a dent was put in the main rubbing rail. Once into the lock I make a quick evaluation of the situation inside the boat to find things thrown all over the place but no serious damage. When it was Kalimera's turn we helped by keeping the boat close to the bank and pulling the bow around and then Derek blasted his way into the lock.

This was just a taste of what was to come. When we left Bedford I noticed that my ignition buzzer had not shut off fully and there was just a faint buzzing noise but as the day wore on it got louder. At Castle Mill Lock we expected to find EA workmen clearing the faulty gate but no such luck. From an Email we got this evening they are not now going to repair it until Thursday. Anyway we got in OK but due to the flow from the weir alongside there was no way that we were going to be able to stop on exiting the lock and help Kalimera through so we just had to carry on and hope they were able to get themselves through. Apparently they had to summon every ounce of strength between them but they got there.

The further down river we got the worse the conditions became but there was no turning back  now. At Great Barford the road bridge just crosses the river at right angles and you would think the flow of water through the bridge arches would be straight forward but it pushes you sideways going through the archway. I lined the boat up and was heading in the right direction but then we started to get carried sideways and in doing so we swapped paint and mortar with the bridge, it could have been worse.

At Roxton lock the gates were set against us and upon trying to stop on the lock landing the speed of the water just shot us straight past so the only solution was to go into the throat of the lock and work around it that way. Luckily Kalimera managed to stop on the landing but nearly demolished it in the process.

By the time we reached Eaton Socon lock which is the first double lock we were all feeling shattered so we locked down and then pulled round onto the sheltered lock landing. We have breasted up just in case any other boats arrive.

As my alarm buzzer was getting very loud by now I rang the boatyard at St Neots that repaired Kalimera on our trip up river to Bedford and asked them if they would come and have a look at my alternators, which they did very promptly. They have diagnosed a possible regulator fault so have removed the alternator and taken it back to the workshop for a full evaluation. This gives us a good excuse to stay here overnight now. The engineer did suggest taking the boat down to the yard but had second thoughts with that idea as trying to get into the yard with the river in full flow could be like putting a bull in a china shop if you get my drift.

Since mooring up for the night we have received an email from BW stating that the Ouse and its tributaries are now on flood watch.  The forecast is for heavy rain overnight, lets hope they are wrong!

1159 locks, 1616 miles, 41 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

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