Monday, 8 May 2017

To Keadby and beyond – Take 2 on approaching a lock in tidal waters

Wednesday 3rd May 2017

It would be difficult to call it a wonderful day – very cloudy overhead and a bit of wind early on which seemed to get a bit stronger before lunch.

We moved relatively early today, going down the last two locks on the canal and mooring up just before the entrance to the basin; we took a walk along to the basin and around; spoke to the guy we had met coming into the lock just 4 days earlier; enquired about diesel and rang the operator and booked with him for a fill at just after 1pm – all very casual around here.

We popped over to the café next to the pub for a coffee and ended up having a light lunch as well – it was a very pleasant place with a couple of lovely ladies looking after the customers – after this it was time to get back to the back and move up to the lock for diesel.

The fact is that it is easiest to fill whilst the boat is actually in the lock and since we were due to go out at 2:30 and there would be no-one coming in from the Trent, we could just stay there until our time.
The basin as we were readying to leave

No rush here; we are carefully tied up in the lock - just waiting

No problems with water coming down the canal - it was the amount of water
coming up the river that concerned us

The river was still flowing in quite strongly at 2pm and speaking to the lock-keeper he decided that we wouldn’t go out before at least 3pm – we watched and waited and only after the river had turned did we eventually get back on board and untie the ropes so that they were hanging over the bollards and the lockie started to let the water out.
By 3:20 we were heading out again onto the Trent – the flow was now definitely outbound and we had no need to turn the tiller to head in the right direction – we were taken by the river.
Finally out and away

The grey clouds overhead and a bit of wind - but we were underway

The overall views were still quite brilliant

As on the previous trip to West Stopwith, the boat speed was well up – about 10-11 kmh and even up to 12 kmh.

There is not a lot to see along this stretch but it is all pretty well peaceful and with its own beauty.
a few places to see

The wind wasn't that strong to blow the sails away

We were enjoying it at this point of the trip

No other craft along the river – we were well and truly on our own and with very few obstacles or silted areas to negotiate.
The weather, in particular the wind, which had by now increased in intensity, was less than ideal. The river was buffeted by the wind and waves, which were blowing over the gun-whales and the bow was dipping on occasions.
Then the wind came up, as did the waves on the river...

...pity I left my surfboard behind

We were hitting them front on

We had had a long chat with our diesel man before we left and as he had done this stretch a number of times and we took his advice on board.

By the time we had reached the high bridge which allowed the M180 motorway to pass over the river, Diane had the helm and was steering under the left hand archway, whilst I was on the VHF to the Keadby lock-keeper advising of our progress.
He was concerned about another boat which had supposedly left the River Idle (just down from West Stopwith) but he had not heard from them – we had not seen them at all, either out on the water or moored up anywhere.
The M180 ahead of us and we were getting close

Keadby Bridge and we were now very close
Really close - that's the Lock-Keepers control tower

Approaching the lock from the right hand side, the mistakes at West Stopwith were remedied – going completely past the lock we executed a 180 turn across the river and were about 20 meters off the wall (we had a cross-wind which was pushing us towards the wall, so a little bit extra power was wise).
Punching against the current we inched towards the lock entrance and as the bow lined up opposite the upstream wall, the tiller was turned at the same instant the lockie gave the signal and we entered into the lock without any problems.
Time to turn - at 45 deg to the lock

easing it around and using the river flow to get us heading into the lock

Phew! We made it in without touching the side...

There was a feeling of complete exhaustion and utter relief over my entire being – the errors at West Stopwith were now behind us.
...and it was a relief!!
On your own the lock is really quite large and the gates closed behind us; the water flowed in; we rose up; gates opened and there was a low road bridge in front of us – the lockie headed up to open that for us as well and we thanked him profusely and then proceeded to moor up on the visitor moorings about 200 metres further on.

It had been a testing day and we were a bit exhausted, so mooring up for the night was very welcome for both of us.
Coming out of the lock and the low road swing bridge ahead...

...thru the bridge and the moorings are there on the left

The visitor moorings were very quiet and peaceful and we enjoyed a great nights sleep – although there could have been a brass band practicing all night long right outside the boat and I am sure that neither of us would have heard it.

14 Miles, 4 Locks, 1 Swing Bridge
YTD:  328 miles (528 km), 166 Locks, 15 Tunnels, 3 Lift Bridges, 4 Swing Bridges
Total: 4960 Miles (7982 km), 3317 Locks, 139 Tunnels, 69 Lift Bridges, 176 Swing Bridges


  1. Hi Ray, this blog is great, we are heading this way with friends later this monthdo you have any tips for us :)hope all is well with you both xxxx Boo.

  2. Hi Boo, our love to you both. I think that my first effort at West Stockwith was due to not fully understanding the power that the outgoing tide can have and not listening to the advice given to me by the Torksey lockie; by the time we got there I was in two minds about what I should do and did it wrong - the second attempt which was at Keadby was much better - do the 180 turn and punch against the outgoing water and you will be fine
    ray xxx