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Down the Tidal Trent ~~~ Why not do it the easier way ?


Tony Dunkley
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From comments posted in several threads, and from conversations with boaters, some of whom have had rather unnerving experiences, particularly at Keadby, there seems to be a widely held belief that if making downriver journeys from either Cromwell or Torksey they can't avoid arriving at either West Stockwith or Keadby with a strong ebb running down and making entry into either of the locks somewhat difficult.

I assume that this must be the result of advice on journey timing from BW / C&RT lock keepers, and can't help wondering exactly what advice is given in preference to giving departure times to pleasure craft that will result in arriving at Stockwith or Keadby at, or soon after local HW with little or no current at all.

Having never booked passage through either of these locks, or asked advice on departure times from elsewhere on the Trent, I'm not at all sure about what advice is given, and the thinking behind it. Can anyone enlighten me?

Edited by Tony Dunkley
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I recently went downstream from Torksey to West Stockwith.

 

The general consensus, from nearly all the sources I could find, was that I should leave an hour before HW Torksey. (ETA example here from Chesterfield Canal Soc]

 

The lock keeper concurred. Two other narrow boats left at the same time, bound for Keadby, but going rather faster. Getting into Stockwith was fine, and this was on an 8m spring tide. We were preceded by a Dutch barge. Short video below.

 

To arrive at HW Stockwith then I would have had to leave before low water at Torksey, and battle against the flood nearly all the way - say a five hour trip? I don't think I would find that a very attractive option.

 

Edited by Scholar Gypsy
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I recently went downstream from Torksey to West Stockwith.

 

The general consensus, from nearly all the sources I could find, was that I should leave an hour before HW Torksey. (ETA example here from Chesterfield Canal Soc]

 

The lock keeper concurred. Two other narrow boats left at the same time, bound for Keadby, but going rather faster. Getting into Stockwith was fine, and this was on an 8m spring tide. We were preceded by a Dutch barge. Short video below.

 

To arrive at HW Stockwith then I would have had to leave before low water at Torksey, and battle against the flood nearly all the way - say a five hour trip? I don't think I would find that a very attractive option.

 

 

Thanks for that. It does pretty well confirm the impression I have about what nowadays is generally believed to be the only way to time downriver journeys. I'm not sure how or why this has come about, but it's a completely mistaken belief and the two main reasons for it that I've heard from it's supporters are that it avoids being on the move in the upper reaches at or around LW, which for reasons I can't understand, is regarded as being inadvisable, and, as you've said, that having to stem the flood for it's entire duration will add a lot of time to the journey. These misconceptions seem to have come about since the demise of commercial traffic through Keadby, and with the retirement of all the ex- boatmen lock keepers. It's a very long time since I last took anything into Stockwith basin and nearly 11 years for Keadby, but a brief account of a mid 1990's boat delivery downriver and via Keadby will illustrate the point.

 

I was delivering a new Nottingham based trip boat back to the builders in Thorne for some damage and defect rectification work, and had started from Newark that morning after taking a vehicle up to Thorne so we could drive back to Nottingham that night. The departure time from Newark got us to Keadby at around local HW, much to the consternation of a bemused and panicking BW lock keeper when I turned up with the tide making a level with the canal and beginning to wash the top gates open as he shut the outer doors behind us. The time saved going in at Keadby on a level, instead of penning, made up for most of the small amount of time lost in pushing the flood from round about Jenny Hurn to Keadby.

 

By those who favour the way the downriver journey is timed these days it seems to be thought that arrival at Stockwith or Keadby at or around (local) HW will mean pushing over the flood for the whole of it's duration. This is not so. Because you're travelling towards where the flood started running up sooner than it did where you first meet it, the length of time for which you have to stem it is considerably shortened. The effect of the flood in reducing the boat's speed over the ground can also be minimized by using the slacker water on the upriver side of all the bights and very close to the shore on the straight racks. If you do happen to misjudge things and ground on a ness when doing this, you'll be lifted off by the rising tide and on your way again in a matter of moments.

Edited by Tony Dunkley
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Thanks for that. It does pretty well confirm the impression I have about what nowadays is generally believed to be the only way to time downriver journeys. I'm not sure how or why this has come about, but it's a completely mistaken belief and the two main reasons for it that I've heard from it's supporters are that it avoids being on the move in the upper reaches at or around LW, which for reasons I can't understand, is regarded as being inadvisable, and, as you've said, that having to stem the flood for it's entire duration will add a lot of time to the journey. These misconceptions seem to have come about since the demise of commercial traffic through Keadby, and with the retirement of all the ex- boatmen lock keepers. It's a very long time since I last took anything into Stockwith basin and nearly 20 years for Keadby, but a brief account of my last time downriver to go in at Keadby will illustrate the point.

 

I was delivering a new Nottingham based trip boat back to the builders in Thorne for some damage and defect rectification work, and had started from Newark that morning after taking a vehicle up to Thorne so we could drive back to Nottingham that night. The departure time from Newark got us to Keadby at around local HW, much to the consternation of a bemused and panicking BW lock keeper when I turned up with the tide making a level with the canal and beginning to wash the top gates open as he shut the outer doors behind us. The time saved going in at Keadby on a level, instead of penning, made up for most of the small amount of time lost in pushing the flood from round about Jenny Hurn to Keadby.

 

By those who favour the way the downriver journey is timed these days it seems to be thought that arrival at Stockwith or Keadby at or around (local) HW will mean pushing over the flood for the whole of it's duration. This is not so. Because you're travelling towards where the flood started running up sooner than it did where you first meet it, the length of time for which you have to stem it is considerably shortened. The effect of the flood in reducing the boat's speed over the ground can also be minimized by using the slacker water on the upriver side of all the bights and very close to the shore on the straight racks. If you do happen to misjudge things and ground on a ness when doing this, you'll be lifted off by the rising tide and on your way again in a matter of moments.

 

Thanks Tony - that is interesting, although I do still worry a bit that I wouldn't win against a flood tide (especially a spring tide) and so would end up going close to backwards for a bit (I do about 3.7-3.8 kts at comfortable cruising speed, the flood tide when I went through Gainsboro was nearly 3 kts).

 

I see C&RT are now trying to encourage more boaters to use the Tideway, and realistically that will only happen if visiting boats are encouraged to follow the advice from the lock keepers on departure times; and/or there is some more formal (and easy to follow) guidance/advice produced by C&RT in dicsussion with local experts (as they produce for the Thames, for instance). I would also suspect that encouraging people to meet the aegir head on would not encourage less experienced boaters onto the tideway.

 

[My experiences recently on the Nene were rather different - one could only get off (or indeed onto) the tidal river at Peterborough at High Water, and with the lock keeper sending down a few tonnes of fresh water to help us get over a silt bar about a half a mile below the lock.... We also had a mini-bore to deal with - the incoming flood bouncing off the lock/sluices and heading back down river to where we were stuck]

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An interesting thread Tony, although I have spent a fair time on the tidal Thames I have only been on the Trent during one cruise with side trips, from Cromwell to Torksey then from Torksey to Stockwith and from there to Keadby.

Not knowing the river I took the advice of the lockeys, discretion being the bett......etc. but I was puzzled by the attitudes of people to the river.

Around here going on the putty is a regular thing and all you do is wait (and if you dry out properly get out and scrub the water line pretending that it was on purpose)

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I can only assume that the advice being given is to minimise the prolonged use of a (relatively) low powered engine and (often) inadequate engine cooling that many canal boats have?

 

Last year I did the Trent downstream to Keadby and the advice was given on the basis that this was my first trip. It was suggested I break my journey from Newark, staying overnight on the floating pontoon at Torksey then leaving 1hr before HW (at Torksey) on the run to Keadby. The advantage is that you do not need to run the engine hard for a prolonged period. The main disadvantage is having to bump into negotiate the entrance to Keadby with the current of the ebb tide running fairly strongly. You also run through Gainsborough at approaching warp speed.

 

On the other hand, last year I also did the Ribble crossing, where, other than stopping overnight in the marina at Preston, there is only one way to do it. Which is to leave Tarleton, pushing the flood tide all the way down the Douglas to the turn onto the Ribble, then pushing the ebb tide hard all the way up the Ribble to Savick Brook to get inside the sea lock while there is still some water around. It means running the engine very hard for several hours and there are plenty of stories of canal boats conking out on the tideway when they overheat.

 

Tony's suggestion makes sense to me, as long as you can be fairly sure the boat is actually capable of pushing the tide for several hours.

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I can only assume that the advice being given is to minimise the prolonged use of a (relatively) low powered engine and (often) inadequate engine cooling that many canal boats have?

 

Last year I did the Trent downstream to Keadby and the advice was given on the basis that this was my first trip. It was suggested I break my journey from Newark, staying overnight on the floating pontoon at Torksey then leaving 1hr before HW (at Torksey) on the run to Keadby. The advantage is that you do not need to run the engine hard for a prolonged period. The main disadvantage is having to bump into negotiate the entrance to Keadby with the current of the ebb tide running fairly strongly. You also run through Gainsborough at approaching warp speed.

 

On the other hand, last year I also did the Ribble crossing, where, other than stopping overnight in the marina at Preston, there is only one way to do it. Which is to leave Tarleton, pushing the flood tide all the way down the Douglas to the turn onto the Ribble, then pushing the ebb tide hard all the way up the Ribble to Savick Brook to get inside the sea lock while there is still some water around. It means running the engine very hard for several hours and there are plenty of stories of canal boats conking out on the tideway when they overheat.

 

Tony's suggestion makes sense to me, as long as you can be fairly sure the boat is actually capable of pushing the tide for several hours.

 

Interesting re the Ribble - on my list. I take it there is no convenient buoy to tie up to in the Ribble, to wait for the next flood tide?

 

Here is Gainsborough Bridge downstream on the ebb - 6.5 kts over the ground.

 

Edited by Scholar Gypsy
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I can only assume that the advice being given is to minimise the prolonged use of a (relatively) low powered engine and (often) inadequate engine cooling that many canal boats have?

 

Last year I did the Trent downstream to Keadby and the advice was given on the basis that this was my first trip. It was suggested I break my journey from Newark, staying overnight on the floating pontoon at Torksey then leaving 1hr before HW (at Torksey) on the run to Keadby. The advantage is that you do not need to run the engine hard for a prolonged period. The main disadvantage is having to bump into negotiate the entrance to Keadby with the current of the ebb tide running fairly strongly. You also run through Gainsborough at approaching warp speed.

 

On the other hand, last year I also did the Ribble crossing, where, other than stopping overnight in the marina at Preston, there is only one way to do it. Which is to leave Tarleton, pushing the flood tide all the way down the Douglas to the turn onto the Ribble, then pushing the ebb tide hard all the way up the Ribble to Savick Brook to get inside the sea lock while there is still some water around. It means running the engine very hard for several hours and there are plenty of stories of canal boats conking out on the tideway when they overheat.

 

Tony's suggestion makes sense to me, as long as you can be fairly sure the boat is actually capable of pushing the tide for several hours.

 

If the 'standard' advice for the Trent was being given for that reason, then it would make some sense, but only provided that the reason was a valid one.

One reason frequently heard, or seen written, is that the upper reaches of the tidal river should be avoided at or around low water, which is utter nonsense because there is more than adequate depth for shallow draughted pleasure boats at any state of the tide, and the range of the tide is so small anyway.

The possibility of stemming the flood for several hours on downriver journeys just doesn't arise, for the reasons given in post # 3 and the very short duration of the flood in the Trent. It's only a maximum of about 2 hours going down to Keadby and can be as little as about 1 hour down to Torksey and Stockwith from Cromwell, that a downriver boat has to stem any significant tide.

Edited by Tony Dunkley
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Interesting re the Ribble - on my list. I take it there is no convenient buoy to tie up to in the Ribble, to wait for the next flood tide?

 

Here is Gainsborough Bridge downstream on the ebb - 6.5 kts over the ground.

 

 

Going by the stones showing on the bridge piers that's about 3 hours after Gainsborough HW and it's run down nearly 4 feet. A couple of hours later around half ebb there would have been getting on for another 2 knots of tide under you. The water level in that video clip is still a few inches above the average sort of level for HW neaps with no fresh coming down.

The rounded stones in the bridge piers are each 2' deep, and the underside of the centre of the arch is 15' above the top stone with about the same clearance under the railway bridge.

Edited by Tony Dunkley
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Based on my very limited experience of cromwell to Torksey and back I think you are right about the advice given by the lockies, ie it's not up to much!

 

I wanted to leave Cromwell earlier than Lockie suggested and I got a whole lot of BS about why I shouldn't, eg there could be up to 6 mph of flood to battle (he knew I was only going to Torksey). When we went at the time he wanted, we still encountered the flood, and a little lower down where I guess it would be a little stronger. It was about 1mph. I wanted to go earlier due to worries about getting over the cill at Torksey and in that he was correct, that wasn't an issue, but with hindsight there was no reason why we couldn't have gone an hour or so earlier.

 

I got the impression that this was how they always did it (without really thinking about it) and he wasn't particularly pleased to have his advice questioned. In the end I went with his advice only because he said he used to run the commercial boats up and down, but I now suspect that might have been BS too.

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When on my trip down, I kept looking at places and thinking "I would really rather spend a couple of days on this rather than a quick thrash".

Afterwards I did think that I would like to come back some time and spend a while exploring.

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Based on my very limited experience of cromwell to Torksey and back I think you are right about the advice given by the lockies, ie it's not up to much!

 

I wanted to leave Cromwell earlier than Lockie suggested and I got a whole lot of BS about why I shouldn't, eg there could be up to 6 mph of flood to battle (he knew I was only going to Torksey). When we went at the time he wanted, we still encountered the flood, and a little lower down where I guess it would be a little stronger. It was about 1mph. I wanted to go earlier due to worries about getting over the cill at Torksey and in that he was correct, that wasn't an issue, but with hindsight there was no reason why we couldn't have gone an hour or so earlier.

 

I got the impression that this was how they always did it (without really thinking about it) and he wasn't particularly pleased to have his advice questioned. In the end I went with his advice only because he said he used to run the commercial boats up and down, but I now suspect that might have been BS too.

We always tell them when we are leaving as we always work out our own timings. But they know us by now so don't question us.

 

We have a new lockie on Torksey on Saturday. Will see if he is any good.

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Interesting re the Ribble - on my list. I take it there is no convenient buoy to tie up to in the Ribble, to wait for the next flood tide?

 

 

 

No, there isn't. Also you are in an estuary not on a river.

 

CRT have no control at all over the tidal sections of the Ribble/Douglas other than where they let you on and off, both of which have limited tidal windows. By contrast, the Trent is CRT as far downstream as Gainsborough, and has multiple entry points

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An interesting thread Tony, although I have spent a fair time on the tidal Thames I have only been on the Trent during one cruise with side trips, from Cromwell to Torksey then from Torksey to Stockwith and from there to Keadby.

Not knowing the river I took the advice of the lockeys, discretion being the bett......etc. but I was puzzled by the attitudes of people to the river.

Around here going on the putty is a regular thing and all you do is wait (and if you dry out properly get out and scrub the water line pretending that it was on purpose)

 

To me, one of the most alarming aspects of the ''standard advice package'' is that boats following it are frequently passing, around or a little after HW, along one of the few stretches where they are most likely to come to some harm if they ground.

Marton Rack has a narrow deep water channel between fairly flat areas of hard marl with quite steep-to edges in places. The marl is covered, but not usually by more than 3' - 4' at HW, but sometimes dries and bares out in the last few hours of the ebb.

In my view, sending boats on their way, in the charge of skippers with limited or no knowledge of the river, down past an area where they could ground precariously on a falling tide on a hard steep edge, later to dry to one side but with 5' or more of water to the other side, is just about as irresponsible and stupid as it can get.

There was a nasty incident in Marton Rack about three years back, when, whilst following some of the usual advice, the owner of a V-bottomed plastic job parked his boat on the East side marl bank on a falling tide. The boat, by chance, settled upright as the water level dropped, and a few hours later when it had dried right out he decided to give the bottom a scrub.

The boat toppled over while he was doing it and trapped him underneath with a broken pelvis.

Edited by Tony Dunkley
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We always tell them when we are leaving as we always work out our own timings. But they know us by now so don't question us.

 

We have a new lockie on Torksey on Saturday. Will see if he is any good.

 

In CWDF Topic "My first river boat" on 25 August 2015, you said : ~

"We have grounded the boat on Torksey Lock cill when there wasn't enough water to clear the cill and had to be flushed off"
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In CWDF Topic "My first river boat" on 25 August 2015, you said : ~

 

"We have grounded the boat on Torksey Lock cill when there wasn't enough water to clear the cill and had to be flushed off"

Naughty Tony, don't start a bickerfest in your own thread! It's a bit like crapping on your own doorstep! Edited by nicknorman
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Naughty Tony, don't start a bickerfest in your own thread!

Stop quoting him.

 

That's where the ignore function falls over rolleyes.gif

 

For Anthony's information it was on a small tide during a dry summer spell when we grounded on the cill. The option was go for it or wait a few days for a bigger tide and lose a few days of our holiday.

 

We went for it and had to be flushed off but then continued on our way down to Hull and then onto the Broads without losing any days to low water.

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Naughty Tony, don't start a bickerfest in your own thread!

 

That's a novel idea. I wonder if it would be possible to induce someone into arguing with themselves about what they'd said the previous day in one of their own Posts ?

Edited by Tony Dunkley
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For Anthony's information it was on a small tide during a dry summer spell when we grounded on the cill. The option was go for it or wait a few days for a bigger tide and lose a few days of our holiday.

 

We went for it and had to be flushed off but then continued on our way down to Hull and then onto the Broads without losing any days to low water.

 

Only 2 feet on the cill at HW, and a few days before it made any more ?

 

As a matter of interest, did Waterways make the outer cill of the new chamber any deeper than the bottom cill of the old lock ? If they didn't, it was a good opportunity missed.

Edited by Tony Dunkley
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As a matter of interest, did Waterways make the outer cill of the new chamber any deeper than the bottom cill of the old lock ? If they didn't, it was a good opportunity missed.

 

That was certainly the intention when they did it, with some sources at the time citing the work as making Torksey a two-rise* because the outer chamber could accommodate a bigger lift than the inner one.

 

*Wrongly in my opinion as I don't think there is ever a two-stage lift utilising first one chamber and then the other.

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That was certainly the intention when they did it, with some sources at the time citing the work as making Torksey a two-rise* because the outer chamber could accommodate a bigger lift than the inner one.

 

*Wrongly in my opinion as I don't think there is ever a two-stage lift utilising first one chamber and then the other.

 

I haven't used Torksey since the new chamber was built, and have only seen photo's of it. I have heard a few different ideas put forward about why it was built, but I don't know for certain which ones are right. The most likely sounding one was that the EA wanted to raise the height of the flood walls protecting the area towards Lincoln, and for some reason it wasn't possible to do that by increasing the height of the original flood doors on the old chamber.

In any event it should have been built along the same lines as the lower chamber that was added to Cromwell lock, with the new bottom cill considerably lower than the original one.

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That was certainly the intention when they did it, with some sources at the time citing the work as making Torksey a two-rise* because the outer chamber could accommodate a bigger lift than the inner one.

 

*Wrongly in my opinion as I don't think there is ever a two-stage lift utilising first one chamber and then the other.

The outermost cill is certainly lower then the middle cill but not by huge amounts, inches rather then feet.

 

When they are struggling to get enough water over the middle cill, boats sit back under the bridge until the lock is raised enough to get them over the middle cill and then the boats come forward into the original lock chamber if they are too tall to stay under the bridge. Not a "two rise" lock as such.

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The outermost cill is certainly lower then the middle cill but not by huge amounts, inches rather then feet.

 

When they are struggling to get enough water over the middle cill, boats sit back under the bridge until the lock is raised enough to get them over the middle cill and then the boats come forward into the original lock chamber if they are too tall to stay under the bridge. Not a "two rise" lock as such.

 

 

Thank You - that's very interesting

 

A number of two-rises in Yorkshire (and some elsewhere) were only such on this basis, the lower chamber gave a few inches lift, usually off tidal water, to get into the upper one

 

Snakeholme+Sea+Lock.jpg

 

This is the lower chamber of Snakeholme Two-Rise on the Driffield Navigation - intended to get deeper draught boats into the upper chamber, and until Struncheon Hill was added this was the lowest lock on the navigation

 

(Photo from Captain Ahab's Watery Tales)

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