North Muskham to Keadby
27th August 2013
45 Miles - 2 Locks - 8 Hours
This was the the big day of the trip, the day we venture out onto the tideway and make the big jump north into the South Yorkshire Navigations.
The Muskham Ferry inn
We have undertaken this trip before, but its never something we undertake lightly. Narrowboats are a bit out of their environment on the tideway and beyond Torksey the places of safety in the event of a mechanical breakdown are few and far between.
We were up at 7.00am at which time the fog hung heavy on the river, so thick you coundn't see the far bank from our mooring at the pub and North Muskham. This all cleared by 8.00am and so we set off for Cromwell lock a mile or so downstream. The gates opened as we approached and we were in the first pen of the day, leading three narrowboats, which staked line astern all the way to Torksey.
Negotiating the "icebergs" at Cromwell Lock
We had to pause at Torksey, waiting for the incoming flood tide during which time I had a look at the engine "just in case". In some ways I wish I hasn't - there was a pool of oil under the gearbox which i cleared up and added some oil just in case. I was then condemnes to the next five hours of running the engine hard and wondering if the leak had repeated / got worse. Not the sort of discovery you want to make as you follow the bottom 35 miles of the Trent through Gainsborough.
We set off on the second leg at 12.45 following 2 narrowboats and a widebeam, punching the tide for 2 hours. We therefore made slow progress till the tide turned at Knaith, just before Gainsborough after which we picked up the pace. We pressed on steadily at 1800 pm, our effective max running speed before the engine starts to overheat. We were not alone, on the VHF we heard that one of the boats astern was running hot. Wand'ring Bark has a good little Beta 38 engine with loads of grunt at low speeds, but her bluff bows don't lend themselves for fast river running.
Its a nervy time, pushing the engine beyond its normal levels of activity. I stand on the stern listening to every rattle, hum and vibration - has anything changed - is all still ok? are the engine mounts holding up? how is that dodgey stern gland, are the injectors getting worse - its a paranoids paradise... And if the boats mechanics hols out, what about the shifting sand bars and the masses of debris which surges up and and down these lower sections - every log a potential hazard for the unwary.
Keadby - end of the line on the Tidal Trent
But all things come to en end and by 6.00pm the big ships of Keadby came into view and by 6.30pm we were safely out of Keadby Lock and moored on the visitor moorings surrounded in a sea of duckweed which make you feel like you are moored in the middle of a pea green lawn.
Keadby and Stainforth Canal - a sea of green
Phew, the risky bit of the trip is over.