Denver Complex- March town moorings
13 miles, 3 locks, 1 tidal windy bit
The alarm went off at 7am, as we were due through Denver sluice at 8.30am with the tide. However, having assiduously checked fuel, engine oil, the tightness of the shaft-coupling bolts, and locked a complaining Lyra in the bathroom- we didn't want her falling in and heading out to sea via King's Lynn!- we joined the queue of waiting boats.
The process was quite slow, because there was two- way traffic in the tidal window, and boats could only be dispatched one at a time from Salter's Lode lock at the other end of the tidal section. We had to wait for them to cover the short tidal stretch and be safely through Denver lock before we could head through ourselves.
A brooding Denver Complex in the distance
We finally got through, sharing the lock with Moondaisy, at 10am, and then were out onto the tidal section. There wasn't much tide running at all, but there was a fair bit of wind. This time, with a lot of trust in the engine and coupling, I was able to do it "properly"- head down the right hand side of the river, then turn sharply nearly 170 degrees to enter the lock. The last time, I was too cautious and ran aground on a sandbank near the lock, achieving a score of 0/10 from the lockkeeper and incidentally winning a fiver back from big James- this time, I managed to get in without touching the sides, but because the conditions were fairly benign, Paul the keeper gave me 7.5 out of 10. A big improvement on last time, but still not big James' 10/10. Maybe next time....
Once onto Well Creek and the Middle Level, progress was slow and steady. There was plenty of weed, and the level was down 6 inches or so. The Commissioners were, however, doing their best to remedy this by pumping up water from the 16-foot drain and the Main Drain, but it would clearly be some time before the effect was felt!
We soon reached the twin villages of Upwell and Outwell, and progress slowed further. The bottom of the creek was quite close to the top, as the working boatmen apparently used to say, and the weed thickened. We didn't have to head down the weedhatch, but we did have to spin into astern several times to clear it.
Big Fenland skies!
When we arrived in Marmont Priory lock, a padlock- with a set of keys to the boat in it- was knocked overboard, but luckily I managed to retrieve them with the Seasearcher magnet- to the cheers of a family who were gongoozling and watching us come through!
There were even more weeds below the lock, but the sun came out and we made it to the town moorings in March in time for ice-creams- a very welcome end to the day's boating!
The Duck, along with n.b.s Moondaisy and Friendly Fox.
Venice on Cherwell
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