Cruising Notes

Well we made it to Denver, the water control complex that controls the water for that part of England, without a hitch.

This structure is no baby, we go through the right hand side. To give an idea of size I snapped the boat going through before us.

The crossing from Denver to Salters Lode (the entrance to the next waterway) is rightly feared. The bit out of Denver is easy, It's just the 270 degree turn across the very fast flowing river (it's tidal) that becomes a bit tricky as you have to hit the lock entrance at exactly the right angle while being carried by the tide, and the entrance is just two boat widths wide. I arrived with a thump that threw every book in the boat on to the floor, and was surprised to find I had made the best “landing” of the day according to Paul the lock keeper. Damaging your boat on that crossing is routine and expected. The advice on how to get into the lock entrance, from the lock keeper, is simple. “Use lot's of power”

Then we had fun with the weed on the next stretch. Being high summer the weed is growing faster than they can cut it. We managed to average just over one mph for the next four hours. Frequent stopping to clear the prop and to cool the engine were the cause. Boating is such fun, tearing weed off the propeller with your arm down a little hole called a weed hatch whilst laying along the deck boards face down in the sunshine. It's even more fun in the rain.

We had planned four days to cross the middle levels, a series of artificial land drains that connect the Great Ouse and Nene river systems, and stuck to our schedule as we are trying to cruise at a more leisurely pace despite my natural impatience. You can do it easily in two days.

Our arrival at Peterborough heralded work. The final preparations for the boat safety certificate (now about 3 months overdue) and the fitting of a solar power system to the boat. We had loaded all of the major bits for the solar power onto the boat at Ely but wanted to do the work in Peterborough. It (Peterborough) is an old industrial town and has plenty of shops for bits. What it certainly does not have is a bus service to get you to said shops for bits. They are all located in the area known as “Eastern Industries”, a huge industrial area. It has one bus per hour. I walked for miles just to visit 3 suppliers. It was either that or wait for the bus each time and loose a day.

However a couple of days into the work our main generator failed, again! I rigged the boat into emergency mode, removed the generator, and delivered it to Atherstone, a little town near Coventry (the only repairer in the country). Fitting solar panels became a serious priority as any boost to our, now meagre, electrical power was most welcome.

For those who might be interested in the fitting of a solar system on a narrowboat please follow the link at the end of cruising notes.

So we now have solar power on the boat and, being summer, quite a bit of it. At least more than I expected. There are 2 x 100 watt panels. On a good day it provides most of our electrical power (we only use about 2kwh per day). In my opinion It is our (lack of) consumption that makes us “green”, not the method of power generation.

Peterborough is on the river but we were in a small basin off the main river when the generator failed. It is both beautiful and peaceful (despite the local pub). If you are going to get stuck then this is pretty ideal. However Peterborough has it's attractions. The Grain Barge, is of the better Pekinese restaurants in the country.

The Grain Barge

And this is the main town quay, not bad for an industrial town

just don't rustle a paper bag near this lot

The problem with summer is that everyone jumps in their boat and heads off for peace and tranquillity, trying to get away from it all. The results are that some moorings can be anything but peaceful, and the smell of the mandatory barbecues can get overwhelming. Our boat is actually in there, right at the back. Bless 'em with their little captains hats.

And for the boaty types an “Art Deco” narrowboat.

Maybe we will get to do some cruising this year. We are certainly not looking like conquering heroes at the moment. We are currently running about 13 weeks behind schedule.

Today we got the generator back from repair. It shows the exact same symptoms and does not produce any electricity!

Ho Hum!

That's all folks

It seems that some people didn't realise that the wildlife link I provided last time was a set of 18 pictures. If you were one of them, and want to try again, the link is:

For those of you who care about installing solar energy on a narrowboat the link is:

Have fun