Wednesday, August 03, 2011

To the Lancaster Canal (Episode I)

Couldn’t post yesterday; cream crackered after a long day with a late finish. We were in bed at a quarter to 10!

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.

Pulling pins at Sollom.

Liberty Bell under Strand Bridge onto the river section.

It was a grey start to the day but perked up for a bit around lunchtime.

Tarleton moorings, Mags looking pensive....

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…..

Tarleton Lock

Hmmm, need a bit more water than that…..

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.

Waiting for Tarleton Lock

We’re down, the gates open and we follow Pendragon out onto the Douglas.

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.

Creating a wash

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.

All strung out… Pendragon directly ahead, then Liberty Bell with Yesdear away on the left.

The cruiser has long gone.

This guy was quite a bit faster than us…

Show off!

We could go faster but we’re taking it easy.Wink

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.

Around Asland Lamp

Storm clouds gathering

T’other Dave on Yesdear slowed down so Liberty Bell could catch up, I speeded up to come up as well.

Two Daves breasted up.

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.

Heading towards a rainy Preston

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.

NB Pendragon goes left….

And we follow.

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!

Up the Brook, stay between the markers!

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.

The famous Rotating Sea Lock.

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.

Waiting on the pontoon.

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.

More tomorrow….

Locks 1, miles 9


Anonymous said...

Great stuff - it's so useful to hear accounts of how narrowboats have traversed these tideways - you can't beat a "been there" guide.

Glad you got there safely - moving in convoy is certainly reassuring in these situations.

Sue, nb Indigo Dream

Anonymous said...

Ditto - and well done!

Dogsontour by Greygal said...

Ditto from me too. Yesdear is also one of my favourite ever boat names!

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Greygal
Long time no see! Although I've been watching your travels with the Indigo Dreamers.
Yes, it is a cracking name. They crept past us this morning just before 7. What time are we leaving? 06:30? Yes, dear.