15 miles, 1 lock, 1 suicidal hireboater
In which the Duck and its intrepid crew brave new waters and moor up on a tidal stretch of river
Today has been the first full day of our holiday cruise down the Old West river and the Ouse. Saturday could have been the start, but the weather was awful- so we stayed put in Ely, went to the library, and eventually helped the current hirers of nb Zinfandel (the boat is based in Chesterton in Cambridge) to breast up alongside, as there were no other moorings to be had anywhere. Finally, we watched Doctor Who. I think that Cambridgeshire Council should invest in flying buses, like the one we saw on the programme, rather than guided buses- they wouldn't be slowed by congestion on Milton Road!
Sunday morning dawned grey and cheerless- but at least it wasn't raining! We set off at 11am, after breakfast, and visited the waterpoint. Zinfandel was still breasted up on the outside, so we carefully crept out, flicking their sternline over our roof, before remooring them. nb Wildfowl was already at the waterpoint, so we moored in the winding hole for five minutes and emptied the loo cassette. Unfortunately, the blade has become detached from the runners on the cassette, so it won't close; looks like we might need a new one. I'm going to look on the Thetford website for instructions to see if it can be fixed. In the meantime, we've retrieved the old PortaPotti from storage in the well deck and, after cleaning it, are using that.
Once we had emptied that, and I had tried to fix it and failed, we headed off on the first leg of the voyage. The weather was still grey and cheerless, but still not raining! Having passed the Lazy Otter marina, we were on uncharted waters. The Old West is twisty and narrow, and an impatient and eratically driven hireboat from Bridge boatyard pressed past at one point.
The hirers didn't seem used to wheel steering the boat, and so they were zigzaging all over the place, and nearly hit us twice and the bank once when overtaking. I went into neutral and let them past, leaving them to head around the corner and almost hit a bathing cow!
The river, especially the latter sections, reminded me of the Oxford canal; only the high floodbanks on both sides, which prevented us from seeing anything, meant the journey was a bit boring.
Eventually, we reached Hermitage lock, and the lockkeeper locked us through onto the tidal stretch at Earith.
Leaving Hermitage Lock
We've moored onto the visitor moorings on floating pontoons, next to the marina. At the end of the pontoon is the floating diesel pump:
Unfortunately, the pontoon is designed for two or three cruisers, and the Duck takes up almost all the available space; so a large visiting broads cruiser has breasted up alongside us for the night. Earith has one post office, two pubs, and one bus in to Cambridge per day. Luckily it gets in at the right time, so Earith is a possible mooring for commuting- although getting back again is somewhat harder and involves two bus journeys!
So today we were breasted up at the start and the finish.
Tomorrow, the plan is to hop into St. Ives and moor there, investigating the market, the moorings, and the travel posibilities into Cambridge.
A day in Godalming before turning for Shalford
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