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Crossing the Mersey estuary from Eastham to Liverpool


Philip
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Just wondering what kind of planning is needed to cross the Mersey from the MSC into Liverpool Docks? I know all the stuff re the Ship Canal, but is an anchor mandatory for all boats crossing the Mersey? A weight is sufficient for my GRP boat using the Ship Canal. Also can you plan a date to cross the estuary or does it all depend on tide/weather conditions?

 

Just done the MSC from Manchester to the junction with the Weaver and the full length of the Grand Union, so maybe decision time after doing the remaining bit of the MSC and the Mersey as to whether or not to stick with my GRP or look at steel/aluminium. Considering something to live part time on, but also aware that a narrowboat is harder to single-hand through locks than a cruiser is!

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2 minutes ago, Mac of Cygnet said:

 

From seeing all the faffing about that plastic boat owners indulge in while doing locks, I would dispute that statement.

In terms of weight and being easy to pull in and out using ropes, there's no contest!

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12 minutes ago, Mac of Cygnet said:

 

In terms of control and predictability, there's no contest!

Not really, cruisers such as the Norman that I have with the bow well ballasted are very good in the water, yes they are more responsive than narrowboats but with good control of the wheel they're certainly not unpredictable.

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The only times I have hired cruisers (Broads and France) it took me the whole week's holiday to achieve some semblance of control, whereas I took to narrowboats (including singlehanding) like a duck to water (!).    Anyway, we'll have to agree to disagree, but at least it has bumped your original post to the top a few times, in the absence of more relevant replies.

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18 hours ago, Philip said:

Just wondering what kind of planning is needed to cross the Mersey from the MSC into Liverpool Docks? I know all the stuff re the Ship Canal, but is an anchor mandatory for all boats crossing the Mersey? A weight is sufficient for my GRP boat using the Ship Canal. Also can you plan a date to cross the estuary or does it all depend on tide/weather conditions?

 

Just done the MSC from Manchester to the junction with the Weaver and the full length of the Grand Union, so maybe decision time after doing the remaining bit of the MSC and the Mersey as to whether or not to stick with my GRP or look at steel/aluminium. Considering something to live part time on, but also aware that a narrowboat is harder to single-hand through locks than a cruiser is!

 

 

You will really need a VHF radio (and licence) but read here for full details :

https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/media/library/8107-peels-ports-liverpool-safety-guidance.pdf

 

 

1. The Passage - General The passage between Liverpool South Docks and Eastham Locks is often "not recommended" for inland waterway craft, particularly canal narrow boats. A safe passage is, however, perfectly feasible for boats which are suitably prepared and equipped for a short sea voyage and with skippers or crew members with appropriate experience and local knowledge, or with an authorised Liverpool Pilot. The River Mersey has a large tidal range, over 10.2m at Liverpool, with stream rates of up to 7 knots. The flows are complex and sea conditions can be dangerous to small craft, especially in the Eastham Channel when the wind is against the tide. Canal and river craft are strongly advised to avoid spring tides when the tidal stream rates are greatest. There should always be at least two persons onboard able to control the vessel. The essential requirement for a safe passage is good weather, therefore, study the weather forecasts and regard wind Force 3 as a maximum. Wait and seek advice before locking out if doubtful. Look at the direction of the wind in relation to the tide, wind and tide in the same direction can help make for a smooth sea, whereas in opposite directions conditions can become unpleasant or even unsafe, especially for narrow boats.

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4 hours ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

 

You will really need a VHF radio (and licence) but read here for full details :

https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/media/library/8107-peels-ports-liverpool-safety-guidance.pdf

 

 

1. The Passage - General The passage between Liverpool South Docks and Eastham Locks is often "not recommended" for inland waterway craft, particularly canal narrow boats. A safe passage is, however, perfectly feasible for boats which are suitably prepared and equipped for a short sea voyage and with skippers or crew members with appropriate experience and local knowledge, or with an authorised Liverpool Pilot. The River Mersey has a large tidal range, over 10.2m at Liverpool, with stream rates of up to 7 knots. The flows are complex and sea conditions can be dangerous to small craft, especially in the Eastham Channel when the wind is against the tide. Canal and river craft are strongly advised to avoid spring tides when the tidal stream rates are greatest. There should always be at least two persons onboard able to control the vessel. The essential requirement for a safe passage is good weather, therefore, study the weather forecasts and regard wind Force 3 as a maximum. Wait and seek advice before locking out if doubtful. Look at the direction of the wind in relation to the tide, wind and tide in the same direction can help make for a smooth sea, whereas in opposite directions conditions can become unpleasant or even unsafe, especially for narrow boats.

Thanks for this - I think I might just call it a day at Ellesmere Port!

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5 hours ago, Mac of Cygnet said:

The only times I have hired cruisers (Broads and France) it took me the whole week's holiday to achieve some semblance of control, whereas I took to narrowboats (including singlehanding) like a duck to water (!).    Anyway, we'll have to agree to disagree, but at least it has bumped your original post to the top a few times, in the absence of more relevant replies.

 

5 hours ago, Mac of Cygnet said:

The only times I have hired cruisers (Broads and France) it took me the whole week's holiday to achieve some semblance of control, whereas I took to narrowboats (including singlehanding) like a duck to water (!).    Anyway, we'll have to agree to disagree, but at least it has bumped your original post to the top a few times, in the absence of more relevant replies.

Would a steel boat of 35ft be reasonably easy to pull in and out of locks? I do a lot of single-handing so it's a consideration, prefer not to use lock ladders in deep locks if I can help it!

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59 minutes ago, Philip said:

 

Would a steel boat of 35ft be reasonably easy to pull in and out of locks? I do a lot of single-handing so it's a consideration, prefer not to use lock ladders in deep locks if I can help it!

Why would you pull in / pull out any boat (that's what they have engines for) ?

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1 hour ago, Philip said:

 

Would a steel boat of 35ft be reasonably easy to pull in and out of locks? I do a lot of single-handing so it's a consideration, prefer not to use lock ladders in deep locks if I can help it!

 

Yes, should be OK.  My boat is only 27ft, but the difference shouldn't matter - you're probably considerably younger than me, too!  Stopping it is harder, but there's almost always something to wrap the rope around - I always use the centre rope for hauling and stopping.  Biggest problem is lock tail bridges which the rope has to go underneath and be retrieved, but there are ways round that.   I don't mind climbing ladders  but try to avoid going down them onto the boat.

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There is a gentleman, Stuart Wood, who will act as a pilot across the Mersey, sorry no longer have any contact details.

We did it in 2017, the worst part was organising the MSC but I assume you have done that already.

The lock at Eastham is a proper ship lock so long and deep but it emptied slowly and you can stay well back from the gates. Left the lock on an incoming tide.

We stayed on the Wirral side just outside the buoyed channel carried on until we were opposite the lock entrance to Brunswick  Dock then crossed over to the Liverpool side.

That is the worst bit as you are crossing against the tide so the boat rocks and bounces quite a bit, keep an eye out for the buoys and you can see how fast you are moving sideways.

Once you are on the Liverpool side turn and run up to the lock entrance. You will have contacted them in advance because you need to book the lock as it only operates at certain tidal levels.

A VHF is recommended however we didn't get any reply so we used a mobile phone which worked fine, they had already told us what time the lock would be available, so the call was just to get the gates open so there is no hanging about. You do have to pay to use the lock, in advance as I recall.

You also need to book a mooring in Salthouse Dock, you'll need to call the CRT Wigan office as the website doesn't work if you are arriving from that direction.

Obviously you need to plan the crossing carefully, weather and tides times are the most important, there is some shipping on the Mersey but not much as the docks are now at the river mouth.

As long as you use common sense and plan it you will enjoy the crossing we certainly did. 

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15 hours ago, Mac of Cygnet said:

 

Yes, should be OK.  My boat is only 27ft, but the difference shouldn't matter - you're probably considerably younger than me, too!  Stopping it is harder, but there's almost always something to wrap the rope around - I always use the centre rope for hauling and stopping.  Biggest problem is lock tail bridges which the rope has to go underneath and be retrieved, but there are ways round that.   I don't mind climbing ladders  but try to avoid going down them onto the boat.

Thanks

10 hours ago, KenK said:

There is a gentleman, Stuart Wood, who will act as a pilot across the Mersey, sorry no longer have any contact details.

We did it in 2017, the worst part was organising the MSC but I assume you have done that already.

The lock at Eastham is a proper ship lock so long and deep but it emptied slowly and you can stay well back from the gates. Left the lock on an incoming tide.

We stayed on the Wirral side just outside the buoyed channel carried on until we were opposite the lock entrance to Brunswick  Dock then crossed over to the Liverpool side.

That is the worst bit as you are crossing against the tide so the boat rocks and bounces quite a bit, keep an eye out for the buoys and you can see how fast you are moving sideways.

Once you are on the Liverpool side turn and run up to the lock entrance. You will have contacted them in advance because you need to book the lock as it only operates at certain tidal levels.

A VHF is recommended however we didn't get any reply so we used a mobile phone which worked fine, they had already told us what time the lock would be available, so the call was just to get the gates open so there is no hanging about. You do have to pay to use the lock, in advance as I recall.

You also need to book a mooring in Salthouse Dock, you'll need to call the CRT Wigan office as the website doesn't work if you are arriving from that direction.

Obviously you need to plan the crossing carefully, weather and tides times are the most important, there is some shipping on the Mersey but not much as the docks are now at the river mouth.

As long as you use common sense and plan it you will enjoy the crossing we certainly did. 

Interesting! Thank you. Have until January before MSC seaworthy certificate runs out and would at least like to do Western Point to Ellesmere Port, but the Mersey crossing sounds fascinating.

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On 26/08/2020 at 15:18, Philip said:

 

Would a steel boat of 35ft be reasonably easy to pull in and out of locks? I do a lot of single-handing so it's a consideration, prefer not to use lock ladders in deep locks if I can help it!

I regularly haul my 62' narrowboat out of locks.  Not a problem at all.   It's similar to a heavy lock gate in that you just need to apply constant, steady force until you overcome the initial inertia to get it moving. Once it's moving, piece of cake.  I'm not particularly muscular. 

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  • 6 months later...
On 26/08/2020 at 21:42, KenK said:

There is a gentleman, Stuart Wood, who will act as a pilot across the Mersey, sorry no longer have any contact details.

We did it in 2017, the worst part was organising the MSC but I assume you have done that already.

The lock at Eastham is a proper ship lock so long and deep but it emptied slowly and you can stay well back from the gates. Left the lock on an incoming tide.

We stayed on the Wirral side just outside the buoyed channel carried on until we were opposite the lock entrance to Brunswick  Dock then crossed over to the Liverpool side.

That is the worst bit as you are crossing against the tide so the boat rocks and bounces quite a bit, keep an eye out for the buoys and you can see how fast you are moving sideways.

Once you are on the Liverpool side turn and run up to the lock entrance. You will have contacted them in advance because you need to book the lock as it only operates at certain tidal levels.

A VHF is recommended however we didn't get any reply so we used a mobile phone which worked fine, they had already told us what time the lock would be available, so the call was just to get the gates open so there is no hanging about. You do have to pay to use the lock, in advance as I recall.

You also need to book a mooring in Salthouse Dock, you'll need to call the CRT Wigan office as the website doesn't work if you are arriving from that direction.

Obviously you need to plan the crossing carefully, weather and tides times are the most important, there is some shipping on the Mersey but not much as the docks are now at the river mouth.

As long as you use common sense and plan it you will enjoy the crossing we certainly did. 

 

I'm planning (hoping) to do the Mersey from Liverpool to Ellesmere Port this year. I want to do it with a pilot but I'm having difficulty finding one. Yesterday I phoned the Pilotage number that was on the Peel Ports Mersey Crossing PDF and was passed from person to person before finally being told that Stuart Wood was the only pilot they knew of who would accompany leisure boats. They didn't have a phone number for him and thought he had now retired but said that 'he might be persuaded'. I then tried Trevor at Eastham Control who I'd found very helpful when I did the MSC in 2019 but he didn't know of anybody else either.

 

Does anybody here have Stuart Wood's contact details please, or know of anyone else offering pilotage services for the crossing?

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You may already know this but in case you don't, the outer lock at the river entrance to Brunswick Dock is currently under repair. It should be fixed by mid May. I have an old email address for Stuart which might still be current. It is manchestermarineatbtinternet.com   (remove the man and replace the at with @)

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We were planning a Mersey crossing last summer and made contact with Stuart Wood about this time last year.

 

He was very helpful and sent me a comprehensive 'to do' list.

 

PM me with your email address and I will send the list and his contact details.

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On 28/08/2020 at 04:46, bagginz said:

I regularly haul my 62' narrowboat out of locks.  Not a problem at all.   It's similar to a heavy lock gate in that you just need to apply constant, steady force until you overcome the initial inertia to get it moving. Once it's moving, piece of cake.  I'm not particularly muscular. 

I do the same with my 40 footer. Going up I drive in and shin up the ladder, or if there's easy access, jump off with the rope and let the boat drift in and stop it with the rope. Going down, almost always now pull it out with the rope rather than use the ladder, and you can close the gates before getting back on the boat. And I'm 70 with a bad back. Mind you, I got the bad back thirty years ago by trying to do it all too quick!

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Thanks for your answers to my question about the Mersey Pilot. I have spoken to Stuart Wood and he has retired from his full time job but is still offering the piloting service for leisure boaters.

 

His email address is stuart.wood@danieladamson.co.uk

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