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In 1977 we hired our first narrowboat from Anglo Welsh at Market Harborough.From that moment our destiny was set. In 2006 we finally purchased our own brand new 57' narrowboat which we named 'Free Spirit'. Our aim is to travel the length and breadth of all the navigable rivers and canals of the UK. This will be our story as it unfolds.

Thursday 30 November 2023

And we take to the river.

 Really didn't want to go outside this morning. Everywhere was white with frost again, and a thin sheet of ice lay on the water. 

I suppose we could have stayed another day, the smell of the sewage works came and went and if the river gauge was still in the red then so be it. To check we of course had to walk to the bottom gates of the lock and peer over the edge, so on went coat, hat, scarves, gloves etc just to walk the length of the lock landing to go and see. 

The gauge was in the amber, a good halfway between the red and green, no problem then for us to set off.


Ropes untied, but this time a lot easier than the fiasco of yesterday. Ian had for once not been quite so exuberant with the precise way to secure the bow, after all how many boats were likely to come past? So with the ropes looser than normal, so much easier to get undone.

Dropping to the river, hardly any water movement in the short lock cutting, but boy did I have to put the power on when FS joined the river and especially so when the River Derwent also entered the Trent. Eddies are formed and FS swung one way and then another. Not normally any problem at all when the levels are in the normal range, but with a bit of fresh on, well that was a different matter. Anyway, I managed to control FS, and soon we were racing down the river with the revs no higher than 1000. I stayed well to the right of the weir, and just beyond was the lock cutting approach to Sawley flood lock.


 I deposited Ian onto the bank, stayed in the middle waiting for the lock to be got ready. In the meantime, a chap walking toward me happened to mention a huge branch stuck on FS's bow. Ah, as Ian would only open one gate, Fs probably wouldn't fit with that attached to the bow, so reverse was necessary to shake it off.


Sawley's locks were showing a green light, these automated locks require a BW key and buttons have to be pushed. Which lock to go in was being debated when out popped a wide beam from the left lock. Decision made then, although I do prefer the right side. It's easier to get crew members back on board from this side. Anyway, once down, I cut across the right lock and hovered until Ian had pushed buttons again to close gates and drop paddles.

Back onto the river and down we travelled at a fair pace again. 

One thing I was dreading was doing the turn from the river into the Erewash canal. The entrance is angled, normally I go slightly beyond and come back into it. Today, though, a different strategy. I slowed FS down by putting FS into reverse well before the entrance, then started the turn a good 100yds before it was normally needed. This way the flow took me sideways down the river and as I approached the entrance, tiller forward and full throttle and in I shot through the bridge like a cork exploding from a bottle...phew! A got some praise for the manoeuvre by a chap standing on the bridge. although Ian somewhat deflated my ego by saying it was more by luck than judgement, and it was him who was the one to say give it some welly! Well he was right on that score, but as for luck...nop it was sheer skill on my behalf mate!


Another compliment was forthcoming when I managed to tightly squeeze FS into a space.  It was by the facilities and boats either side taking up the landing as well as overshooting the facility mooring. He was mightily impressed, said he would love to be able to do that. Only having had his boat for 6 weeks, I did mention that taking it slow was the way to go and was sure it wouldn't take him long to perfect. This time Ian was nowhere to be seen, so I could relish that compliment without his interference.

Roughly 90 minutes it took to get to Sandiacre. Long Eaton and Dolkholm Locks were against, but Sandiacre lock ready for me to sail right in.

Long Eaton lock

Dockholme lock

Ascended the lock and found a mooring behind two other boats. The car was then fetched, it needs a MOT on Saturday and hopefully Sunday we will make our way back up to Langley Mill. That does depend on the weather though, With it being so very cold lately, ice might become a problem, and we had been warned of snow for then. but only time will tell!


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