Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Water, water everywhere.

5 Locks, 19 miles now moored at Stretham pumping station, Old West River

With an overcast sky and possible showers we pulled out of Huntingdon early as we knew we had a long day ahead of us but not as long as it eventually ended up being.

The first 2 locks we shared with this little fella which I understand is crafted after a crab fishing boat with a single cylinder engine. The 2 very proud owners hadn't owned the boat long and were using it as a retirement hobby organising cruises or fishing trips. The trip down to St Ives was fine and we moored up on the EA moorings for a couple of hours as the girls had found out that it was market day.

The 2 skippers stayed behind to do some varnishing while the opportunity presented itself. After lunch we got under way again and it was just after St Ives lock that the river disappeared into a huge lake with the flood plain still deeply under water. Luckily the reeds along the bank side gave us an indication of where the river banks were. This situation carried on right down to Brownshill lock where we found that the water level was exactly the same on both sides of the lock. The only thing stopping us going straight through was the safety railing on the top of the lock gates because the gates themselves were completely submerged. The lake (floodplain) was no better all the way to the Hermitage lock.

We had planned to moor overnight on the pontoon's at Westview marina but while filling the water tanks and doing a quick pump out one of the locals came over and spoke to us and recommended that we get through Hermitage lock ASAP because if the heavy rain did eventuate overnight the river would get even higher than it was and we would be stuck for anything up to a week.

With this in mind I rang the lock keeper at Hermitage and he told us to get down there ASAP and hopefully we would have enough headroom to get under the road bridge as this lock is on tidal water. Without another thought we were off and as we approached the lock, the control light was red so I prepared to pull onto the lock landing but within a few seconds the light changed to green so it was straight in for us. Kalimera had to wait until we had been through. It turned out that we had plenty of head room but Kalimera only cleared the bridge by a millimetre or 2 and once out on to the Old West river it was a totally different environment. No sign of recent flooding and very little water movement, it was much easier going. Unfortunately it was a very long way until we found the EA moorings at Stretham and was gone 7pm by the time we moored up for the night. Needless to say we were all pretty tired after such a long haul.

Great way for this Cormorant to dry his wings after fishing - sitting atop a tree

1168 locks, 1645 miles, 41 Tunnels, 41 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

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