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Nokomis Day Eight

a challenging and frustrating day

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Day eight saw us cruising from Peterborough back to Fotheringhay; a distance of 19 miles and 7 locks that took just on seven hours.

The day was challenging because of the weather. Although the rain had, largely, gone; it was extremely windy. Most of the time this wasn’t a problem, but it did make access into and out of locks tricky. This was exacerbated by the reason the day was also frustrating. Some anti-social boater has preceded us up the river and failed to reset the locks!

A digression on locks on the Nene

The Nene has locks that are different to those on canals; though they are common on other East Anglian waterways. Canal locks tend to have Vee gates at each end. Most locks on the Nene have a Vee gate at the upstream end, but a vertical guillotine gate at the downstream end. Why? No idea.

Unlike canal locks, which can be left in pretty much any state, there is a strict protocol to be followed with the Nene locks: irrespective of your direction of travel, the lock is always left with the guillotine raised. I believe this is so that the Vee gates take the bulk of the water pressure, other than when the lock is actually in use.

When travelling downstream this means that one has to moor up, lower the guillotine, flood the lock, open the Vee gates, motor in, close the Vee gates, empty the lock, raise the guillotine and drive out. Going upstream you motor in, lower the guillotine, flood the lock, open the Vee gates, motor out, moor up, close the Vee gates, empty the lock, raise the guillotine and then motor off.

Because some a-hole had merely motored in, lowered the guillotine, flooded the lock, opened the Vee gates and then motored off; it meant that we had to moor up, close the Vee gates, empty the lock and raise the guillotine before we could motor in. It may not sound like much more effort, but given that some of the locks have manually operated guillotines with enormous wheels to spin, it fair wears one out. It also added five minutes to the average 15 it takes to transit a lock.

Nonetheless, we got to Fotheringhay about 5 PM and moored in pretty much the same spot as we used on the way down. The weather was deteriorating and we’d already been peed upon once, so we decided to stay on board rather than sally forth to The Falcon.

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