Anyhow, as you’ve no doubt established, we’re now on the Lancaster Canal, after completing the crossing of the Ribble estuary. Not without incident, but more of that later.
We had about an hour to cruise to Tarleton, scheduled to be there at 11:40 we were on the move at 9:45. Keen or what.
It was a grey start to the day but perked up for a bit around lunchtime.
Arriving early meant that we could have a walk down to have a look at the lock and the tidal Douglas, to see what was in store for us…..
Harry, the duty BW chappie gave us a briefing on what to expect, along with does and don’t complete with photos of what happens if you don’t do. Concentrates the mind wonderfully, pictures of a narrowboat perched high and dry on a grass bank…
There were 4 narrowboats and a cruiser scheduled to cross today, and we all toddled off down to the lock as requested, only to have to hang around as each penning down took place.
The cruiser went first followed by NBs Liberty Bell and Yesdear, and we brought up the rear, sharing with the other narrowboat NB Pendragon.
We’d been told that we’d be fighting the incoming tide as we headed down the Douglas to the Ribble estuary, but I don’t think any of us was prepared for the speed of the flow against us.
1000 revs- going backwards. 1100 revs – still going backwards. Ahh, stationary at 1300. That’s it, 1500 revs and we’re making 3½ mph over the ground. That’ll do. I’m glad I fitted that bigger prop….
As the river broadens the flow against us decreased so we were able to take the throttle back a bit and still make good headway.
The cruiser has long gone.
We could go faster but we’re taking it easy.
Approaching Asland Lamp and the right turn onto the Ribble we were screaming along at a heady 6 mph when we got the first inkling of trouble. The minor one was the threatening clouds building from the west, the major one was a phone conversation with Dave on Liberty Bell. Overheating engine, an alarm sounding, might have a problem.
T’other Dave on Yesdear slowed down so Liberty Bell could catch up, I speeded up to come up as well.
Dave drained some engine oil and replaced it with fresh while being towed along by Yesdear alongside, then fired his engine up again and it was OK. Phew.
Meanwhile I’d slowly got ahead of them, but when I saw them start to separate and carry on independently I got my foot down and chased Chris on NB Pendragon up to the Savick Brook entrance. I didn’t want to spend the night in Preston Dock, which is the alternative if you can’t make the sea lock on Savick Brook in time.
By this time those clouds had started to dump on us in earnest, so it was a bit soggy and murky as we made the turn.
Note the green light on the right, OK to proceed to the sea lock.
The little motor boat had been up and down as we made the trip, and decided to have a look up the Brook as we went in. Having seen the pictures of boats stranded on those barely submerged marshes either side, there’s no way I was moving over!
Half a mile up and we approached the Rotating Sea Lock which maintains a (barely) navigable depth upstream when the tide ebbs. Such a grand name for a disappointing structure.
It was here that we met Andy and Steve, our BW chaperones for the Ribble Link Locks.
Just through the “lock” we had to pull onto a pontoon to wait for the ebbing tide. Savick Bridge doesn’t have enough headroom till quite a bit after high tide.
Liberty Bell arrived about 20 minutes later, closely followed by the Good Shepherd in the form of Yesdear.
A wait of about 45 minutes, and we were clear to proceed up Savick Brook to the first of the new locks rising up to the Lancaster Canal.
Locks 1, miles 9