Saturday, 14 July 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On...

Well, all the torrential rain we've had over the past couple of days has to go somewhere.

The river is up about three feet above the normal level, which might not sound like much, but is enough to cover the concrete edge of the bank and leave the narrowboats stranded some distance from dry land. Of course, the strong stream too puts a lot of strain on the mooring pins- no solid rings or bollards around here, unfortunately!

The river first started to come up on Friday, and rose a little bit over the hard outside the boathouses. Nothing too major, but the torrential and unremitting rain over Friday night was enough to raise the level still further.

Several people we know are away at the moment, and so we left Lucky Duck at midnight to check on the moored boats along Jesus Green and Midsummer Common, to make sure everyone's moorings were safe.

It was lucky we did, because we ended up replacing the mooring pins which had pulled out on a few boats, and loosening off the centre ropes that many people insist on tying up with - despite the fact that, as the river rises, this will of course pull the boat over.

We got to bed, drenched, at 2am, and I set the alarm for 4am, to check on our boat, as the river was visibly rising before we went to sleep. Everything was fine - I put out another spring from the stern to take the pressure off the bow rope, and loosened all our ropes still further.

The morning bought  some interesting scenes. The river had risen right up to and into several of the boathouses, and so we headed down the common again to re-pin a few more boats and loosen over tight mooring ropes.

The river was deeper than the tops of our wellies, so we got very wet feet at times- but it was worth it for the peace of mind of our friends.

At one point, our friend Charlotte on Felicity loaned her dinghy, so James could remoor Pyewacket as Hannah was away for the day. It was a much drier way of attending to the ropes!

As the river was encroaching into several of the boathouses, we also moved a boat belonging to our rowing club- the yellow shell in the picture above- onto a higher boat bay, so it wouldn't get crushed against the rack above should the water rise further.

However, most distressing of all was the sight of this willow tree.

Just past the Fort St George footbridge, the tree- which grew out of the bank by the flats to the left of the picture - was seemingly undermined by the current and fell at about 11am. Luckily no-one was underneath it at the time, but it has restricted navigation to a 12' wide channel with a very fast flowing current. The only people moving were on a hire cruiser, who made the gap slightly wider by crunching through some of the foliage. I think the Cam Conservators stopped the cruiser at Baits Bite lock, as it's dangerous to try and exit the lock into the fierce currents of the fully opened sluices, and they may well reverse Bottisham lock further down to try and clear the floodwaters.

Although a flood can be frightening, it really does bring the community together. We've had a good chat with so many other fellow boaters, who we normally wouldn't see, and people have rallied round remooring neighbours boats, lending mooring pins, ropes, floodpoles and gangplanks, and generally looking after each other which is very good to see.

The river is slowly going down at the moment, and since the high tide at King's Lynn at 4pm, the Environment Agency seem to have been able to let more water out allowing the levels here to drop slightly. Hopefully they can release more overnight to lower them further.

Now, of course, is equally dangerous - as the level falls, there's a risk of the few boats without floodpoles catching the edge of the baseplate or the uxter plate under the counter on the concrete edging and tipping- so we're going to have a last wander along in a second, and check that everything's OK.

The only person seriously put out by the flood is Lyra. Although she is happy to go ashore via the gangplank, she keeps on looking at her favourite shady spot in the long grass next to the mooring - which is under a foot of water!

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  1. Well done you two - we were going to ask if there's room for us and Yarwood (both 66ft, but happy to raft, if allowed) on the Meadows if anyone is away and feeling kind - but it's a pointless question at the moment. We are above Bottisham Lock on the GOBA moorings at the mo - safe but sodden; given up on boots, gone for the paddling in sandals look. Daisy, like Lyra, is not impressed! Jill

  2. Through all the rain i've been worried about all the boats that moor just up the canal from our flat. i didnt hear of any casualties, other than one boat passing by that had to moor up because the current was so strong, and the water super choppy.

    glad you're all okay, hopefully this is the worst of it.

  3. So glad to know the Ducks are okay and relieved to hear the water is going down at the moment. Take care and stay dry!
    Jaq & Les

  4. I walked past this morning at 9am and I was telling my James about the dangers of flooding to narrowboats! And it looks like he correctly predicted Combined would be ankle deep. Glad you're all OK!

  5. I hope that the river level goes down soon - stay safe - we're thinking of all our friends (and those we haven't met yet) on the rivers.

    Sue, nb Indigo Dream