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Keeping Up

Peterborough to Boston

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Thinking of doing something different this year & wondered about going down the Nene past Peterborough to Wisbech then out on to the Wash to Boston. I haven't yet researched how the tides would work but:

 

Has anybody here done that trip?

 

How does it best fit together? Can it be done without having to beach & wait for the tide (which could be difficult for our big Labrador)

 

Is it possible to visit anywhere else such as Spalding at the moment?

 

Who is the best pilot for the route?

  • Greenie 1

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We went the opposite way, Boston to Wisbech (and then Peterborogh) this year. One obvious reason for going that way is that the lock at Boston Sluice is only 40' long, so most narrowboats need to use the three minute window as the falling tide make a level with the river and the gates can be opened at both ends. I guess you could go the other way, but check that it's sensible to be hanging around in the tideway waiting for the moment. It's a long trip in a slow narrowboat, ten hours or so Boston to Wisbech, including waiting for the tide to turn. I'd be looking to beach, for dog emptying purposes, rather than trying to avoid it. The pilot is named Daryl Hill. Excellent chap and worth talking to.

 

MP.

 

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Thanks for the info so far.

 

I quite fancy doing it the opposite way, if only just to be different. We've been through Boston Sluice once in each direction; I did wonder if it's still possible to to go into the Black Sluice at the moment, so it could be used to widen the window for arrival?

 

Failing that, of course, we could go from Boston to Wisbech - but I'd like to explore all options first.

 

I don't fancy trying to get back on board when beached, with Jessop the Labrador in my arms.  I think we'd have to leave him in a kennels overnight.

  • Greenie 1

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In addition to the link posted above: 

  • here is a ridiculous page I put together in 2015: https://scholargypsy.org.uk/washing/
  • Daryl is indeed a fine chap. Your bacon butties will need to be up to scratch, though
  • It is possible to do Dog in a Doublet to Boston in a single hop, but it is a very long day and so I would recommend spending a night or two on the pontoons at Wisbech (a town that is worth exploring). Most insurers let you do the stretch down to Wisbech without a pilot.
  • On the run into Boston, it is not necessary to beach. On our 2015 trip the weather was too rough for us to beach and so we just drifted for an hour or so (cut the engine for 30 mins which was rather fun). You time the run up to Boston on the rising tide (which we did at a fast tickover) so that you arrive at Grand Sluice 30-60 mins before the water makes a level, and then you wait.
  • You need to pick a day when high tide is say between 6 and 10. That will enable you to depart Wisbech in daylight and arrive Boston in daylight (in the summer).

Spalding is via the River Welland, I have not researched that a lot but arrival would be on a rising tide. Getting off the tidal water is not entirely straightforward. I think the lock at Fulney is now operational but not 100% sure, There is also the river Glen. This site is brilliant: http://www.tuesdaynightclub.co.uk/Tour_04/Tour04_19.html and the next post. 

 

Black Sluice is operational, I  think most people do it via a short hop from Grand Sluice.

 

I can't advise on whether you can get your dog up a ladder. One of my crew this year declined to get her feet wet, so plan B was executed.

FB_IMG_1561457557424.jpg.503fe8aa9b7eac824d9e3e32a83cfd81.jpg

 

  • Greenie 1

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50 minutes ago, Keeping Up said:

Useful info, thanks

PS once there is enough water over the cill at Grand Sluice you can wait in the lock, until the water makes a level.  That's what we are doing here (that's a tinny being passed up to the lock keeper...).

As you can see with a 57' boat it's not possible to shut the bottom gates. The gates in the background are the sea doors, that point the other way, and keep the sea out of the Witham,

 

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This video gives a nice idea of the scale of the new barrage at Boston - still surrounded by coffer dams. You can see Black Sluice lock in the distance about half way through,

 

 

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If you cross the Wash I'd recommend taking a simple fishing rod and some mackerel feathers. We caught our dinner when we went. Daryl the pilot fished as well but didn't catch anything that day.

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This is an interesting trip and makes a change from normal canal and river cruising. It is quite a straightforward navigational exercise as the channels are well marked with buoys and beacons apart from a stretch in the middle where there is several miles between  the buoys. If you time it right with the tides there is no need to stop and wait. Leaving Wisbech two hours after high water and keeping an average five knots over the ground will bring you to the River Witham on the flood tide and to the lock in good time for the level. We left Wisbech at 0200 and were tied up at the visitor pontoon through the lock at Boston at 0930 - a distance of 35 miles.We got in a bit earlier as we are 46 feet so could just squeeze in diagonally and lock through before the level.

         I don't  use a pilot but if you are not confident doing this kind of exercise then it's  a good idea - and your insurance  company may require  it.

        The key to a successful and stress free trip is the weather - or a more particularly the wind. Narrowboats are quite stable in a seaway but any kind of chop over half a meter increases the risk of down flooding and with wind against  tide it doesn't take long for seas of this size to build up. I would not start out if the forecast was for anything over 10knts out of the West through South to East and 5knts anywhere North of that.

 

  • Greenie 1

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You are right to focus on the weather! On our trip from KL to Boston it was a bit marginal - wind forecast at 12 mph from the NE. It got quite lively on the way out (wind over tide) but much calmer as soon as the tide turned and we turned the boat to have the wind behind us.  To avoid having the wind and waves on our beam we took a rather indirect course (see chart in video).

This pretty rubbish video gives a flavour - maximum roll was 12 degrees which felt more than enough! Daryl said the forecast was right at the limit of what he would accept.
 

 

I meant to add that there is some hanging about if you come from Denver as you need to leave there before high water in order to get over the sandbanks at Stowbridge and be sure to be in the Wash before you run out of water. Less critical on the Nene.

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Interesting  - I am a bit more conservative in my wind limits - but then my boat is fairly low slung with  only twelve inches freeboard at the stern. Coming across the open stretch with twelve knots wind from the SE behind us I had a couple of waves sloshing around  my gumboots. Thought  to myself "That's my upper limit!" Much better bunting into it.

        I am sure twelve degrees roll feels a bit disconcerting but no doubt plenty of righting moment in reserve. Its ages since I did any stability calcs but I would be interested to know what the point of vanishing stability is on an average narrowboat.

        Good  to know about the sandbanks at Stowbridge as I will  be coming out that way in June on the way to Boston after some refit work on the River Wissey.

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3 minutes ago, mikedel said:

Interesting  - I am a bit more conservative in my wind limits - but then my boat is fairly low slung with  only twelve inches freeboard at the stern. Coming across the open stretch with twelve knots wind from the SE behind us I had a couple of waves sloshing around  my gumboots. Thought  to myself "That's my upper limit!" Much better bunting into it.

        I am sure twelve degrees roll feels a bit disconcerting but no doubt plenty of righting moment in reserve. Its ages since I did any stability calcs but I would be interested to know what the point of vanishing stability is on an average narrowboat.

        Good  to know about the sandbanks at Stowbridge as I will  be coming out that way in June on the way to Boston after some refit work on the River Wissey.

Daryl the pilot said the boat handled very comfortably. Two of the crew got a bit green, but I wasn't worrying about them.

There was a bit of spray at the bows, but (I think) the exhaust outlet didn't go underwater. 

If you want some local advice about Stowbridge, I would join the "Spotted on the Wash" group on Facebook. A couple of local boaters have done some drone surveys, and put up some home made markers on the bank to show you which side you need to be on.  We left Denver an hour before local high water, to arrive at Stowbridge bang on high water. The lowest reading on the depth sounder was 1.6 metres (90 cm under the keel) which was quite a long way north of Kings Lynn (i.e. in the buoyed channel) and rather less than I was planning for! It's not unknown for boats to run out of water on the way out to the Wash... 

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3 hours ago, mikedel said:

This is an interesting trip and makes a change from normal canal and river cruising. It is quite a straightforward navigational exercise as the channels are well marked with buoys and beacons apart from a stretch in the middle where there is several miles between  the buoys. If you time it right with the tides there is no need to stop and wait. Leaving Wisbech two hours after high water and keeping an average five knots over the ground will bring you to the River Witham on the flood tide and to the lock in good time for the level.

         I don't  use a pilot but if you are not confident doing this kind of exercise then it's  a good idea - and your insurance  company may require  it.

 

If I was doing the trip again, I'd definitely take a pilot. Yes, the channel may be buoyed, but its a twisting channel between sandbanks (which you can't see as they're covered with shallow water) with the tide flowing fast across the whole area. The relative direction of the tide is ever changing as you change direction to follow the channel, so the amount and direction that you have to steer off the next buoy keeps changing too. The speed of the tide is quite enough to put you onto the sandbanks and make getting off again difficult. 

 

MP.

 

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16 minutes ago, Scholar Gypsy said:

Daryl the pilot said the boat handled very comfortably. Two of the crew got a bit green, but I wasn't worrying about them.

There was a bit of spray at the bows, but (I think) the exhaust outlet didn't go underwater. 

If you want some local advice about Stowbridge, I would join the "Spotted on the Wash" group on Facebook. A couple of local boaters have done some drone surveys, and put up some home made markers on the bank to show you which side you need to be on.  We left Denver an hour before local high water, to arrive at Stowbridge bang on high water. The lowest reading on the depth sounder was 1.6 metres (90 cm under the keel) which was quite a long way north of Kings Lynn (i.e. in the buoyed channel) and rather less than I was planning for! It's not unknown for boats to run out of water on the way out to the Wash... 

Ok - that's good advice. Do you remember if it was Spring or Neap Tides?

       I wouldn't worry about the exhaust going under - as long as the engine is running. What worries me is those boats that have air intake grills on the side of the hull - looks like a recipe for disaster!

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36 minutes ago, mikedel said:

Interesting  - I am a bit more conservative in my wind limits - but then my boat is fairly low slung with  only twelve inches freeboard at the stern. Coming across the open stretch with twelve knots wind from the SE behind us I had a couple of waves sloshing around  my gumboots. Thought  to myself "That's my upper limit!" Much better bunting into it.

        I am sure twelve degrees roll feels a bit disconcerting but no doubt plenty of righting moment in reserve. Its ages since I did any stability calcs but I would be interested to know what the point of vanishing stability is on an average narrowboat.

        Good  to know about the sandbanks at Stowbridge as I will  be coming out that way in June on the way to Boston after some refit work on the River Wissey.

I don't recall the details but I do know that RCD requires an actual stability test - ie loading to a specific angle.

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5 minutes ago, Mike Todd said:

I don't recall the details but I do know that RCD requires an actual stability test - ie loading to a specific angle.

Right - and from that the stability curve and point of vanishing stability can be calculated. I am sure there will be something on line.

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Thanks for this useful info, it's particularly good to hear from someone who has actually travelled from Wisbech to Boston without stopping.

 

I'm pretty confident of the boat's ability to handle poor weather (for a narrow boat that is). The stern is reasonably high with no side vents. When we travelled from Sharpness to Bristol (see here) we had a headwind gusting to force 5 which being blowing over the 15 knot tide made things very choppy, such that the spray from the bow was soaking us at the stern and the dog got seasick, the main problem was that the prop and rudder came out of the water at each wave. We are 67ft so we would have to wait for a level at Boston, and old enough never to have an RCD but the base plate is heavy enough to give us good stability. 

 

Time to talk to Daryl, I reckon. 

  • Greenie 1

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16 minutes ago, MoominPapa said:

If I was doing the trip again, I'd definitely take a pilot. Yes, the channel may be buoyed, but its a twisting channel between sandbanks (which you can't see as they're covered with shallow water) with the tide flowing fast across the whole area. The relative direction of the tide is ever changing as you change direction to follow the channel, so the amount and direction that you have to steer off the next buoy keeps changing too. The speed of the tide is quite enough to put you onto the sandbanks and make getting off again difficult. 

 

MP.

 

Yes - you are quite right - it requires vigilance and a certain degree of navigation skill. It's also a trap for the unwary who rely too much on GPS.

  • Greenie 1

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16 minutes ago, mikedel said:

Ok - that's good advice. Do you remember if it was Spring or Neap Tides?

       I wouldn't worry about the exhaust going under - as long as the engine is running. What worries me is those boats that have air intake grills on the side of the hull - looks like a recipe for disaster!

Amazingly, I have found the tide tables. High tide at KL was 6.1m at 1030, so midway between the previous spring (7.3m on the 18th) and the next neap (4.8m on the 26th)

 

https://scholargypsy.org.uk/2015/05/27/scholar-gypsy-crosses-the-wash/

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17 minutes ago, Scholar Gypsy said:

Amazingly, I have found the tide tables. High tide at KL was 6.1m at 1030, so midway between the previous spring (7.3m on the 18th) and the next neap (4.8m on the 26th)

 

https://scholargypsy.org.uk/2015/05/27/scholar-gypsy-crosses-the-wash/

Well done! - so the lesson from that, as you pointed out, is that the early bird catches the worm - or at least doesn't  run aground..... On the Nene I calculated I would have 0.4m under the keel at low tide at the shallowest point of the channel (the S bend at the exit of the River Nene) mid way between Spring and Neap. This was based on the latest survey - done the day before- that I picked up at the Harbourmaster's office in Wisbech. It also showed the channel had moved in relation to the Admiralty  Chart.

Edited by mikedel
Edited to clarify at low tide

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1 hour ago, Mike Todd said:

I don't recall the details but I do know that RCD requires an actual stability test - ie loading to a specific angle.

I wonder how many 'self-builds' actually do those tests, despite 'signing' to say they are RCD compliant.

 

The harmonised standard: BS EN ISO 12217 Small craft - Stability and buoyancy - assessment and
categorisation sets requirements relating to the minimum freeboard, stability and buoyancy, as appropriate
for the type of boat.
Part 1:2013 Non-sailing boats of hull length greater than or equal to 6m.
Part 2:2013 Sailing boats of hull length greater than or equal to 6m.
Part 3:2013 Boats of hull length less than 6m.

 

From memory - I think one that did was @blackrose

Edited by Alan de Enfield

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3 hours ago, Scholar Gypsy said:

A couple of relevant EA notices - Denver and Dog.

 81689773_164906968161374_8152860320319143936_n.jpg.5a5883d7e0582e49d5d2c1882342f7f7.jpg82290688_10162971167380375_4786410450579357696_n.jpg.972a3761c7988625ea9e78c0597b84c7.jpg

I wonder if there is an hydro engineering solution to this recurring problem

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