Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Now, where did I put my windlass...?

Double Duck...

St. Ives- Huntingdon

6 miles, 2 locks

In which the Duck and its intrepid crew explore St. Ives, leave (eventually) for Huntingdon, with Amy at the tiller, and negotiate two locks with- gasp!- manually operated paddles and v-gates, before mooring in Huntingdon- and updating their Imray guide...

Today we went for a look around St. Ives, and exchanged our library books (from Ely library) for new ones from St. Ives. We're certainly going through the reading material this holiday! It's also useful to be able to take books out of one library, and return them in another- and great to have libraries with proper choice, as Cambridge's library is closed because one of the walls nearly fell down!

We tried to do some laundry, but found all the machines in use, and impatient to be off, we started the engine and moved through St. Ives' medieval bridge, with Amy at the tiller. We observed the moorings along the way- and they are plentiful, which is promising- including the highly picturesque Hemingford Grey. Unfortunately, one set of EA moorings is on an island with, it seems, no way of getting off on foot or by bike- which makes commuting from them somewhat impractical, to say the least!

The two locks had manually opened paddles (or slackers, as they're known around here) and v-gates, so we retrieved the windlass from under the sofa (luckily we didn't have to search for it,I had previously found them whilst tidying up) and I tried to remember which end of the windlass went onto the paddle gear, and which side of the beam to push- these locks were the first manual ones (with the exception of St. Ives, which we shared with other boaters) we've operated ourselves since last year.

I did the gates, Amy handled the boat- luckily she'd had her Shreddies for breakfast....

Eventually, Huntingdon came into view, and there was space on the 24 hour moorings next to a riverside park; also, unfortunately close to the main ring-road, but it's not too noisy. We locked up and went to explore, having eaten some easter eggs (bought for a third of the price in St. Ives earlier! Easter eggs are cheap after Easter...). According to the IMRAY guide, Huntingdon only has a small set of 24 hour moorings, but we found a good stretch of 48 hour moorings that were unmarked. We located the bus station, and the bays from which the buses into Cambridge depart, and then went into the town center properly. It had a variety of nice buildings, and after stocking up at Waitrose (Tesco was too far away!) headed back to the boat, where we mopped off the bird poo accumulated in St. Ives. A downside of mooring on the quay is that it is a good spot for feeding the birds, and so pigeons, ducks, geese and swans all congregated- and some left their mark...

Moored at Huntingdon


  1. Hope you have noticed that you really need an EA-style windlass. It is not quite the same shape as a BW one. You can sort of use the BW type on an EA lock, but it will slip off. EA type are available at all local chandlers.

  2. Another Sarah says... We've never had any trouble using a standard windlass on the Nene/Ouse. When we came through Gayton the guy asked if we had an EA key, and a ML windlass, but he never mentioned an EA one. Sounds like a bit of opportunism on the part of the local chandlers to me...

  3. I tried the normal BW windlass, only to have it slip off; so we've been using the Middle Level one that the Warriors kindly donated. It fits perfectly.

  4. P'raps that's what we used on the Ouse then, but definitely a standard one on the Nene. I've certainly never heard of an EA windlass. Have you?

  5. I think the Middle Level sort is the same as what I meant by an "EA" windlass. The important point is that you can't use a BW one because it slips off -- as the Duck's crew discovered. I guess most people would have solved the problem by the time they get to the Ouse. Our experience was different: our boat arrived on a lorry and was craned in on the Cam, so our first ever manual lock was St Ives, and that was where we discovered that the windlass helpfully provided by the boatbuilder was not the right kind.