Monday, 30 March 2015

How early?

I think it's sort of known, that the crew on QISMA aren't early risers. Love the pics that others post of dawn and mist rising around boats. We are more a last boat on the mooring sort of crew.

A but, is about to arrive, but, with strong winds over the weekend and the worst of the weathe due on Tuesday, if the forecast is right, we decided to get up and off early today. We've had a fab weekend above Haughton Lock but it is very exposed.

So, this morning, at 0740, I was out with LJ...he was confused to say the least. A boat in the lock with the same intention, though even earlier. I checked their destination. Might as well know if they were heading for the same mooring.....not big enough for two narrowboats. Thankfully they were going a bit further on.

And off we went.

A pause at Huntingdon for water.  The tap here doesn't take our regular fitting but with the help of some tape we have a work round. 5 minutes walk into town for a Sainsbury top up and a not to be missed Barford Pie pie and we are off.



A derelict boatyard between this bridge and the busy A14 road bridge.





Through Godmanchester Lock with the wind picking up. I swear it is the London Bridge Station of locks......attracting any wind that is around. (Memories of my London commuting years making a rare appearance here). Still, through and safely tied up on the refurbished EA mooring. All of this before we are often doing more than lazing in bed drinking coffee and reading waiting for  LJ to be ready for
his walk.




And the dog walking remains very satisfactory!!



Saturday, 28 March 2015

The shortest cruise we could take

Having walked up to check things out on Thursday, we were hopeful of getting onto the next mooring we had our eye on. This was just less than a miles cruising and one lock to Houghton. We had admired it on all of our four previous visits but always occupied. I clearly recall the boat in front of us slipping onto it when we came back last year!

Yesterday it became ours. I am especially pleased as it's LJ's birthday tomorrow and he is in doggie heaven.



The first time we came we moored on the EA island moorings before the lock. It was very overgrown. Much different now. We only use it if LJ has been walked as it is small!








Along with Hemmingford Gray and Hemmingford Abbots, Houghton is another lovely village. This time with a shop/Post Office or Post Offuce/shop....depending on your priorities. A mill, with tea room, second tea room in the village, Caravan Club Camp Site, if you were thinking of visitors, two pubs, one (3 Horseshoes) being dog friendly. We are having lunch there tomorrow so more on that to follow.

Houghton Mill. A National Trust property.



These must be a trade mark of a local thatcher. We've seen birds and cats and even a straw boater!


And the telephone box at Hemmingford Abbots



Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Windlass testing ...an apology and Middle Levl confirmation

Sorry for any worry I caused on the last blog. If we ever knew that a CRT windlass would work on the Great Ouse we had forgotten. This means I have been using the heavier, Great Ouse/Middle Level windlass on the locks with manual gates . A bit irritating as it is too large to fit into my much loved 'holster'.


Fortunately, St Ives lock was ahead of us and the opportunity to put a CRT windlass to the test. Even more fortunate, the River Inspector was there, with a Great Ouse/Middle Level windlass, to a) work the lock for us b) to have the windlass conversation with and c) to talk about the swinging gate at St Neots. He is top man.

Following the test, I can now declare,  that both varieties windlass will work on all Great Ouse manual locks.

As to the Middke Levels, I hear that Gayton Marina have said that the CRT windlass will now work on all Anglian waterways.  Two years ago, Gayton Marina sold us an EA key. There was a fault in a new batch of keys. The River Inspector told us Gayton knew that. In fact he had been to the Marina to replace them...... immediately before being called out by us when our key wouldn't work!  Call me picky but I consider them to be an unreliable source of information.

In the  search for completeness, I spoke to the lock keeper at Stanground. She confirms that if you only own a CRT windlass youWILL need a Great Ouse/Middle Level windlass for the Middle Levels and that she sells them at £12.

Having had the opportunity to test the CRT windlass at a couple more lock I will revert to the Gt Ouse/Middle Level version. Although it is heavier and doesn't fit my holster the snug fit as you use it makes it so much more secure to operate.




In operation at Ashline Lock 





Saturday, 21 March 2015

The key to Fenland boating

Last night was spent on the VM at Hermitage Lock. We didn't move until 1600 and had sunshine all the way with it just turning chilly as we arrived.







A different story today. Grey and winds gusting. Oh well, not going far.

The lock opens at 0900 in the winter. We were up and LJ walked and we're ready to go amazing.
The lock keeper here is great for a chat. In mid locking he took a call which was to tell him St Ives lock was open. yeah!

A new wide beam was behind us. It had gone in at Hermitage 4 weeks ago and had been waiting to get down to it's mooring nearer Bedford. The owners had only hired before. Not the best conditions for them but ....




We stopped for water in a brief hail storm.  Not in a rush. We only had the next lock and a short hop to the GOBA moorings just beyond the Pike and Eel. We waited until the widebeam went through and gave them another 20 minutes ...thinking it was probably their first guillotine lock. A bit surprised to find them on the lock jetty. We went alongside. Gently. They had been provided with winders but hadn't been told they needed a key to operate the locks! It was only later that it occurred to me...had  theybeen provided with Fen winders at Hermitage or CRT winders by their boat builders in Liverpool. They would have found out at St Ives!

Like good guys, we gave them our spare. Well our spare, spare, which we found at a waterpoint last summer and gave a home to. I also provided instruction on the operating system as I got the lock ready and Alistair in.  Then I climbed onboard. 



And a mile or so later, with the sun trying to peak through we were in what might just be LJ's favourite mooring, then settled down to an unbelievable day of rugby. 




Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Memo to self ........

Never trust a stoppages website!!  We left Ely on Minday heading, slowly, towards Hermitage. The intention was to go through tomorrow and be in St Ives for Market Day on Monday. The pace was, to say the least, relaxed.

Last night we moored at another favourite spot. As Hermitage are on winter hours, we phoned today to book our passage through tomorrow pm. Almost as an aside, learning that the works on St Ives Lock have overrun by three weeks and it is still closed. East Anglian Environment Agency website, updated on 15 March, still says work completing on 1 March!!

Oh well, we will just have to stay here a bit longer.





Saturday, 14 March 2015

It is with some reluctance ..........

That we swop the tranquility of Wiken for the 'real' world! And it is to the 'real'world we head as we have an appointment in Ely on Monday.

Well, tranquil except for an attack on Alistair by these Whooper swans who had claimed the footpath as their own!






LJ looking for his boat








Rain was forecast, but we were lucky and it held off. As is our usual practice in Ely, we took the first mooring we saw. This visit we are at the station end. Less pretty but no noisier as you can hear  trains on all the moorings.


I walked LJ along the waterfront. The mooring situation was...... One space outside the Cutter two slightly further along.  The recreation ground moorings all full and the three boats that wintered there have yet to move on. Perhaps they won't until the enforcement problem is resolved.

With them there. BAMBOO onto, at least, it's third year outside the Cutter, two boats alongside that have been there all winter and two the same on these moorings Iand with space behind us, I have no shame in declaring we intend to overstay by one night!





Wednesday, 11 March 2015

What's not to like?

the best weather of the year so far yesterday. Perfik day for boating. We woke to news from the EA that they were reducing water levels at Denver to carry out some repair work on the bank. We ARE some 6-7 hours cruising away but already we were a foot down. Fortunately our cruising was going to take us onto the Lodes less than 5 minutes and one lock away!

Almost certainly we are the only boat on the move up here.

We had thought the lode to the Wiken mooring might be silted after the winter. Not so. It is slow going but hey...we aren't in any hurry!



















The escort arrives