Catching Up On The Grand Union

The best place to catch up is to start where we left off!

Week last Thursday (9th August)

We left our Ditchford FOTRN mooring on the Nene fairly early for us.

We’d booked to stay the night at White Mills Marina, a promise we made when we’d previously stayed at the marina on our way to the Ouse. We were in need of topping the diesel tank, using the sanny service, and to off load our growing rubbish mountain. A huge Tesco order had also been booked for delivery at the Marina.

The weather forecast advised us that rain was on the way again, and with having 6 locks to go through before we get to the marina at the anticipated time of 2pm, an early start was planned.

With the recent heavy rain, sailing out of the locks was a bit of a nightmare as there was a gentle flow on the river due to the recent rains, the flow had washed downstream a huge amount of weed, which had congregated at the top lock gates.

Just as we were going through White Mills Lock, our last lock of the day, the heavens opened. As fast as we could, while at the same time manoeuvring the tight marina entrance, and going dead slow in the marina, we reached the service jetty where we were helped to temporarily moor. The staff took cover from the rain while we battened down our hatches, and waited for the violent thunderstorm to pass.

When the storm had passed, our diesel tank was brimmed, together with sanny and rubbish duties carried out, an empty gas bottle was exchanged for a full one, and we were helped by obliging staff to our overnight mooring.

Saturday (10/11th August)

Our Tesco delivery arrived on time, though it took quite a while finding space in Cyan for all our delivery.

Looking at the weather forecast, we thought it best to stay another night in the marina. The weather forecast was once again spot on; only this time hailstones was added to the mix of thunder, lightening, and torrential rain.

Sunday (12th August)

Waking up to a fine sunny day, we’d planned to travel through five locks, and hopefully stop on the 48 hr EA mooring just after Weston Favell Lock Flood Gates.

This is a great mooring for Rusty as there’s a park alongside the mooring where he could have a good run.

Monday (13th August)

Not a good day weatherwise, and it was an easy decision to stop on our mooring one more night. By the afternoon the rain clouds had passed over, and it was quite a pleasant afternoon. We were tempted, despite windy conditions, to continue our journey. In the end we plumed for a good start in the morning, and perhaps even climb the 17 Northampton Arm locks, including the Rotherthorpe Flight.

Tuesday (14th August)

A sharp start to the much calmer day, saw us leaving our mooring before breakfast around 7:30 a.m.

We had 3 locks to go through before we reached Northamption Junction, and the end of the Nene.

Just after we’d gone through Rush Mills Lock, once again the heavens opened. We found a spare gap on the EA mooring before Northampton Lock, where we had a good breakfast while we waited for the rain to stop. Luckily it wasn’t long after breakfast that the sun came out, and we were once again on our way.

After Northampton Lock, my lock duties had been completed! It was now John’s turn to work the locks, and the first one, Cotton Lock no.17, took us onto CRT waters.

The journey through the Norhampton Arm was fraught trying to avoid the weeds, but the crystal clear water was fabulous. There’s a huge stock of fish in the canal, and it was fascinating to watch them swim about, some were quite big too.

At the last two locks we were helped by a CRT employee. Luckily we were in time, though we hadn’t realised there was a ‘curfew’ on the locks. The flight of locks are being padlocked between 6:00 pm, and 9:00 am, due to water shortage. See CRT Information.

It had been a long day, and we were pleased, yet very satisfied, to moor just before Gayton Junction.

Wednesday (15th August)

We’d been thinking about having a few adjustments done to Cyan once we got back onto the canals. One of the urgent jobs was  Cyan’s drainage system. The waste from the kitchen sink, the bathroom sink, and the shower flows into a sump. Once the water gets to a certain level in the sump, the ‘Whale Gulper’ kicks in and expels the water into the cut. This has been such a pain, as every 6 weeks or so the sump has to be dismantled, and cleaned of grease and gunge that had built up. As you can imagine it’s not a job we look forward too. Plus it’s a pain (literally) for John to get on his arthritic knees to access the sump. There is also, with this system, the potential to flood the bilge should the ‘Gulper’ fail to work.

As we were across the ‘way’ from Gayton Marina, we made enquiries via a telephone call to see if they’d like to quote for the work. Unfortunately the guy who could help us was having a day off, and that he’d give us a call when he returned.

In the meantime, John was chatting to another boater about the work we wanted doing, and he recommended the boatyard next to Gayton Services (Grand Junction Boat Co). John walked to the boatyard, and after having a chat with the manager, we were booked into the boatyard on Friday to have the work done. They will be cutting two holes in the hull, one for the kitchen sink waste, and one for bathroom basin, so the waste from the sinks are drained straight into the cut. A pipe will be welded into each hole, and attached to the sink’s waste pipe. The shower waste will be connected directly to the gulper, and the water evacuated through the original sump hole.

Thursday (16th August)

We had a gentle cruise to Bugbrook winding hole where we winded Cyan, returning and mooring just before Gayton Junction.

Once moored, John dismantled panels in the bathroom so the boatyard staff could access necessary areas.

Friday (17th August)

We set off early on Friday as we were booked into the boatyard for 9:00 am.

As soon as we arrived we were direct where to moor, and the work was promptly started. All went to plan, with one snag, which is no big deal.

The bathroom sink waste pipe is now lower than the hole in the hull where the waste water will flow out. Meaning the water will not flow out through the pipe, water doesn’t travel uphill. The hole in the hull had to be 10 inches above the waterline for obvious reasons (we don’t want to sink), the hole was just on 10 inches. We’ve planned to have a cabinet made in the bathroom to support the sink, rather than the chrome pedestal we presently have, it’ll make better use of the space for storage purposes. This job now looks to be a priority. Presently the bathroom waste from the sink is draining into a bucket.

Work wasn’t completed until after 5:00 pm. After paying our bill to the boatyard, we pulled forward onto the sanny services to take on water, use the Elsan services, and dump our rubbish.

It was late for us when we finally moored at basically the same spot we were the night previous.

Saturday (18th August)

Time to get straight again. John ‘rebuilt’ the bathroom, and completed the project of installing new/extra LED lights in the bathroom. Trouble was, the bathroom ceiling fan came on automatically when the light was switched on. We don’t always need the fan, and it was decided that an isolater switch be installed so we could switch off the fan, and turn it on when needed.

Sunday (today)

We stayed put today, we’ve chilled, and I’ve caught up with our blog. This morning we picked about a kilo of blackberries for a pie, and make a couple of pots of blackberry jam. The weather was rather windy this morning, and I doubt it would have been a great idea to battle with the wind by cruising. Lots of boats, especially hire boats, have passed us, but we’ve not envied their challenging wind conditions.

Tomorrow the weather looks to be a calmer, and dry.

We’ve planned our next journey which will take us through Braunston, down the Oxford, and onto the Coventry. We’re hoping to call into Springwood Haven Marina on the Coventry where Steve fitted out our kitchen last Autumn. He made such a perfect job of it that we’d like him to build the new bathroom cabinet/sink unit. Hopefully he’ll be able to fit us in quite soon, then we’ll be on our way again. Down the Coventry, turning right at Fradley Junction, through the Trent & Mersey…. and onto Crick down the Leicester Arm of the Grand Union…. and who knows where after that!

Two Tempests On The Ouse

What an evening we had last night! We’d been following the local weather at Denver Sluice, and saw the Met Office had issued not one, but two ‘Yellow Weather Alerts’ for thunder and lightening. After a lovely afternoon where the river was calm, and hardly moving, we suddenly found ourselves in a ‘mother and father’ of a storm. The wind got up, dark clouds formed, then we suffered thunder and lightening. Rain and hailstones hit Cyan with force. We were on deck securing the canopy, and forgot there were a couple ‘hopper’ windows open. It was shocking to see rain had been ‘driven’ into Cyan through the small window openings. The ceiling was soaked, as was the galley, and our laptops! The rain lashed on and off right into today’s early hours, as did strong gusts of wind.

We were rather worried (at least I was, if John was worried he kept it very quiet); we had a 9:00 am passage through Denver Sluice, and with today’s high winds, and strong gusts, it all looked very daunting.  Unfortunately, five other boats had also been booked to go through at 9:00, and we all turned up on the dot of 9! There’s really only room for one boat on the lock landing, which resulted in three boats breasting up together. The fourth boat turned around and managed to get into the only space available by ‘Jenyns Inn’ PH. As we were the last to arrive (still on the dot of 9), we were forced to try and seek a little shelter from the wind, near the back of the lock landing, all the time trying to tread water. It seemed hopeless…. eventually John managed to get Cyan’s bow into a short space at the end of the landing, where I managed to jump onto the landing, securing Cyan enough to stop her being blown off course by the strong winds.

By the time we were through Denver Sluice, it was 11:00, and without too much time to spare before the tide turned. A quick dash down the tidal stretch and John balanced the wind and tidal flow to swing Cyan into Salter’s Lode Lock entrance. I couldn’t see the lock and thought we were heading for a fence, luckily John’s eyes are better than mine, and he knew Cyan had to be manoeuvred behind the fence to line up for the entrance. Hairy moment, thankfully completed without any drama!

Leaving Salter’s Lode Lock

Chatting to Paul, Salter’s Lode’s lock keeper, it appears Upwell had a mini tornado go through the village last evening, causing quite a bit of damage. Part of the village had it’s power supply cut, including the Five Bells pub. Apparently the pub’s Landlord took orders for fish ‘n’ chips from his customers; picking up the order from the local chippy in Outwell, which still had power.

The journey to Upwell was quite a battle with the wind. Most of the time Cyan ‘crabbed’ her way through the water.

With four boats going through the lock before us, we thought we wouldn’t be able to find a mooring at Upwell. When we arrived we saw one of the boats moored on the landing, but there was also a Fox’s hire boat taking up two spaces. We stopped, and asked the ‘holiday makers’ if they would make room for us. They said they weren’t stopping, and after having a nice bit of a natter with them, they moved off, and we tucked ourselves next to the other moored boat. At lease if any boat needs to take on water, there’s now space.

We’d like to move on to March tomorrow, but the weather forecast looks abysmal. Perhaps we’ll hunker down, and wait for the better weather that’s forecast for Monday. There could be worse places to shelter from the stormy weather!

Today we’ve travelled 6.5 miles, and through two locks.

Our Last Day On The Great Ouse

Last night at around bedtime the temperature was still 23C; how were we going to get to sleep? The promised 8:00 pm thunderstorm didn’t materialise, and we were left in very humid conditions. Needless to say we abstained from our usual bedtime mug of cocoa, and had iced water instead.

We must have had some sleep as I was rudely awakened by loud bangs, and bright sparks at 4:30 am. For nearly two hours there was a glorious light show, with huge claps of thunder.

John managed to sleep through quite a bit of it. Just as we were thinking the thunderstorm looked like it’s going to miss us again, the heavens opened.

Rusty looked to be quite calm with the thunder and lightening, taking his cue from us I should think. But that was before there was one huge ‘clap’, which sounded like it was right above us. The ‘bang’ made us jump, and Rusty fled to the back of the boat. If the stern doors had been open, I think he’d have been off… though I doubt he’d a plan in his head, except to bolt. Rubbing his chest is always a good trick to pacify him, which meant we had to take turns ‘pacifying’ him, until the storm abated.

I’m sure the grass looks greener after the rain?

By 8:45 am, the storm had moved on, leaving us with bright sunshine, though it felt very humid like we were in a sauna.

Leaving our mooring, and waving ‘good bye’ to the boaters who moored behind us.

The Grebe Family – were these the same little ones who ‘hitched’ rides on their mum’s back when we passed this way a few weeks ago?

A garden glass pod! Looks very futuristic

Approaching Ten Mile Railway Bridge

A ‘mum’ with ‘big’ babies

A ‘mum’ with much smaller babies

We’re now moored near Denver Sluice, ready to pass through the Sluice around 9:00 am tomorrow morning. After a short ‘tidal’ journey, we’re hoping for a ‘smooth’ entry into Salter’s Lode Lock. We’ve got two yellow weather alerts for thunderstorms during the night; our fingers are crossed for a good night’s sleep!

Waving ‘So Long’ To Ely

We were the last to leave the GA moorings Tuesday. Gosh was the weather hot!

We cruised as far as Twenty Pence Marina, and decided to turn around and cruise back along the Ouse, and onto Ely.

A lonely tree – think we’re really missing the trees

We were in need of a larger collapsible table for outside use. While John was on the tiller, I popped downstairs to to order one online from Argos. I chose one that looked ‘just the thing’, and at 60cm width, it would fit perfectly under the Pulman’s floor when ‘the season’ ends.

As soon as we arrived in Ely, we got a message from Argos saying our purchase was ready to collect from Sainsburys. We thought that was pretty good service.

We moored practically next to the services, though I was rather worried in case we’d over stayed our allotted time in Ely. In the two other times we were moored in Ely, we didn’t over stay the 48 hours allowed, but I wasn’t sure if there was a stipulation on how long we had to stay away before we could return to the mooring.  I needn’t have worried; John read the notice asking boaters not to return for 48 hours. Phew, we were legal after-all!

We were ready to leave early yesterday morning, but just as we were untying Cyan’s mooring ropes, a wide beam passed us beating us to the services. They could see we were holding Cyan’s lines, obviously waiting to go onto the service moorings. When the boaters  of the widebeam was waiting to fill his water tank, he walked towards us. My first words to him was that we were in no hurry, so not to feel harassed. Think he felt relieved, though he did ‘stake a claim’ to our moorings. He was as anxious as we were that a boat didn’t come along and take the mooring just after we’d left, while we were anxious that a boat didn’t arrive and beat us once again to the services.  See how stressful life can be on the water 😉

After Elsan services, water tank filled, and rubbish dumped, we set off; mooring just before Brandon Creek. We had another bbq, and stayed outside in the pleasant evening air for as long as we could.

We rose quite late this morning, after both of us didn’t sleep very well. By the time we’d had breakfast, and showered, it was 11:30 am. Neither of us were feeling enthusiastic due to the heat to do anything today, so we stayed put. We did phone the lock keeper at Denver Sluice though, and we’re booked for a passage through the sluice at 9:00 am on Saturday.

Out Comes The Sewing Machine

When we moored at Littleport on Friday morning, the ‘entertainment’ was just about starting. It started off with the weed-cutter, then over a dozen cruiser boats started to arrive for a meet-up.

Weed cutter

There looked to be a meeting of SunSeaker boats for the weekend, and some of them looked very posh, though mooring them was quite a spectacle. It appears the ‘lady on the boat’s job’ was to balance on the deck ready to jump off with the mooring ropes, while their ‘captain’ attempted to moor. Several times the ‘captain’ mis calculated his approach, and had to take the boat ‘around again’, all the while the boat skipped and jumped on the water for another go. Another ‘job’ for the ladies; was to hang over the side of the boat, and use their arms and legs as a sort of fender to save their boat from crashing into neighbouring boats. We don’t now if it’s difficult to moor this type of boat….  but it was a revelation!

Once the shuffling had finished the ‘UBC’ boat crews descended on the ‘Swan on the River’ for a ‘royal’ gathering, a great time was had by all, and well into the night!

Circling around again for ‘another’ go at mooring.

We were on ‘thunder and lightening’ watch on Friday night. In this part of the world, the Met Office had a yellow warning for a thunder storm with a lot of rain. It’s shocking to say we were disappointed when the storm failed to materialise.

We left our mooring before 9 am yesterday (Saturday) morning while the ‘UBC’ members were still slumbering.

We arrived at Ely to find there was a boat on the service mooring, the boater was busy doing what was necessary. We saw a mooring further along where we could moor while we collected our new bbq, did some shopping, and bided our time until it was our turn for the service mooring.

After securing Cyan, all three of us (Rusty included), walked to Sainsburys. It wasn’t long before we’d returned with some shopping, a new fan, and of course the new bbq. John set about putting the bbq together, while I set off to visit the outdoor market, and to find the material shop ‘Sew Much To Do’.  I wanted to buy a length of material that’s suitable for fly screens.

The market’s very quaint, as was Ely, with lots of very pretty old buildings. At ‘Sew Much To Do’ I bought some white muslin – this should keep the flies and mosquitos at bay!

The service mooring looked to be continually occupied, and rather than wait any longer, John took a cassette and rubbish to the services using the fold up sack barrow, thinking we’ll forego filling the water tank as the gauge registered 6 (out of 10), meaning we could get by for a few days.

Lots of people were mulling about in the sunshine, eating ice cream, picnicking, or just having a stroll; their main point of interest appearing to be the boats.

Watched by an audience we pushed off.

Once again we saw NB Small World, we’d been playing ‘leap frog’ with them since the beginning of our journey on the Nene.

At first glance we thought this swan had managed to tangle itself with a piece of wire, when we got close it was obviously weed.

We moored on Little Thetford 48 hour mooring (as did NB Small World). In the cool of the evening we lit our bbq, and it didn’t disappoint 🙂 .

We stayed on the mooring today as I wanted to sew the fly screens for the hatch, and the cratch doors (I’m looking forward to leaving the cratch doors and the hatch open tonight). I also made a bag to keep the bbq tidy out of some white spotted on blue leatherette material. It should stop a ‘dirty’ bbq rubbing against other items in the boat.

Tomorrow we’re planning to call into the ‘Fish and Duck’ marina to exchange our empty gas bottle for a new one, top up with diesel, and hopefully water.

Catching Up In The Heat

We’ve been very lax with keeping up our diary this past fortnight. My excuse is that it’s been rather hot, and that we’ve not really travelled much over the past week, so there’s not been a lot to write about. Basically, we’ve been enjoying ourselves being very lazy, and enjoying the lovely weather.

On Saturday morning, 7th July we cruised into ‘River Island Marina’ on the River Lark (alongside Isleham Lock) for three nights. We’d booked a couple of tickets for the Corn Exchange in Cambridge, to see the Gypsy Kings, while we were moored at Abingdon on the Thames. This led us to a leisurely cruse down the Grand Union, onto the River Nene, the Middle Levels, onto the Great Ouse, and then onto the River Lark. Ann, John’s sister, very kindly offered to dog-sit Rusty, and to take us to the Corn Exchange. Think the River Island Marina was the nearest point we could get to Bury St. Edmunds where Ann Lives. We had a brilliant time, and the Gypsy Kings didn’t disappoint. (Thank you Ann x).

There’s a rather special farm butcher’s shop within easy walking distance of the marina. All their meat is home grown on the farm. Afraid I bought quite a bit of meat, including some very tasty sausages. Trouble is, unless you’re in the marina, it would be a problem to visit the farm shop as there isn’t any moorings close by.

On Tuesday morning, after we’d filled Cyan’s water tank, finished sanny duties, and receiving a huge Tesco delivery, we left the marina. We were slightly at a loss as we now don’t have an ‘aim’, nor any time restraint, we’re cut loose!

Leaving the River Lark

Back onto the Great Ouse, after leaving the River Lark

Tuesday and Wednesday night saw us mooring at Ely. It’s a lovely place, with a bit of buzz about it.

We had a lovely surprise while we were there, Christine and Mike from NB Alchemy knocked on our cabin. Thank you both for coming to see us 🙂 . We had a lovely chat, Christine and Mike know a lot about the Ouse, and they tempted us to sail further on towards St Neots and possibly Bedford. We’d been toying with turning around, and ambling our way back onto the canal system; thinking we’d arrive back on the network sometime early September.

Ely’s Civic pride – hope the gorgeous displays cope with the heat and (possibly) lack of water

Leaving our mooring at Ely

Ely Southern Bypass – under construction. Flags of St. George flying high and proud in support of England’s World Cup attempt.

Passing Soham Lode

We were still unsure whether to turn right at Popes Corner, or turn right around. I persuaded John to turn around, and to let’s think about where we want to go over the weekend.

Popes Corner where we did a ‘U’ turn.

Nearby to Popes Cornere there’s an EA 48 hour mooring, this turned out to be our ‘home’ for the next 2 nights.

It must be lovely to cool your feet

Monday morning saw us making our way into Ely again, this time with a plan to order a small, round, cast iron bbq from Ebay, to be delivered to Sainsburys where we could pick it up. We’d seen another boater with one similar, and it looked just perfect.

Ely Cathedral

Large and small boats

Ely moorings, next to the Cutter’s Inn

My ‘point and snap’ digital camera has been playing up for months, charging the battery had become a bit of ‘hit and miss’ exercise. While we were moored in Ely, my lovely husband bought me an early birthday present; a super duper Sony 64x zoom camera. It’s got lots of ‘stops and whistles’ to ‘experiment’ with, and I’m pretty sure it wont be long before taking a few pics will become ‘easy’.

Wednesday morning saw us sailing out of Ely once again, this time in the direction of the River Lark. We moored at the Diamond Moorings just before the Lark, killing time and playing with my new camera, until we’re called to collect the bbq.

Trolling? In this situation, trolling means ‘trolling for fish’ using nets, or with multiple fishing rods

Tonight we’re moored by the ‘Swan on the River’ pub at Littleport. We’ve received an email from Ebay saying the bbq has arrived, and is ready to pick up.  We plan to return to Ely tomorrow morning to pick up the bbq, buy some bbq briquettes, fresh salad and veg, and top up with some alcohol at Sainsburys. I’ve also a mind to visit the sewing shop (as per Google maps) to buy some voile to make fly screens for the hatch and the doors at the bow. The flies, and mosquitos have been a pain over the past few weeks.

After water and sanny duties once again carried out, we’ll be on our way to visit St Neots, and perhaps Bedford.

This is a new journey of 224 miles, and 94 locks, before our return to Braunston.

Nature In Distress

As we left our overnight mooring by ‘The Ship’, we both commented how impressed and delighted we are by the variety of birds and wildlife on the Ouse. There’s always something to see, even if its fish swimming around just under the surface of the water.

Not far from where we were moored looks to be a nice mooring. We’ve made a mental note to stop here on our way back.

It wasn’t long before we came to Littleport, John and Rusty stayed on Cyan, while I set off with my ‘granny trolley’ to pay a visit to the CoOp. Littleport is a quiet little place, with a variety of big/small, new/old houses. I was rather upset with the CoOp as there were no strawberries on sale. It appears to happen every year, even when we lived in Spain, as soon as Wimbledon starts; strawberries become hard to find – or so it appears to me. Still, I did manage to fill the trolley with ‘other’ fresh fruit and veg, plus various extra bits to tide us over until we can get a Tesco delivery this weekend.

We were soon on our way again, and it wasn’t long before we turned left onto the River Lark. We passed a couple of GOBA moorings, and on hindsight we should have moored on them, but we wanted to moor by Prickwillow Bridge, next to Prickwillow Engine Museum.

At Prickwillow there are two EA 48 hour moorings either side of the bridge, though for some reason, the first mooring we came to is ‘out of action’. We didn’t see the ‘no mooring’ sign until we attempted to moor.

You can just about see orange plastic fencing along the mooring, with a notice saying “No Mooring”. The waterpoint at the end looks clear of the orange fencing.

It’s not obvious why the mooring is out of use, it looks perfectly fine to us, perhaps the mooring has become unsafe?

Sadly, about 200 metres before Prickwillow Bridge, there was a dead swan in the water. We don’t recall ever seeing a dead swan before, although they obviously do die. Just as we sailed under the bridge, there was another swan which was obviously dying. It’s mouth was opening and shutting as if it was gasping for air, it’s neck was down onto it’s back, and it kept shaking it’s head.

Not far from the bridge is another mooring. This time we successfully moored, and wasted no time trying to get help for the swan. Something must be wrong.

Despite not having a good phone signal, I phoned the Environment Agency as the Lark is one of their rivers. They couldn’t help, but they passed me through to the RSPCA….. Long story short, after no one answering the phone, redialling and phoning other numbers without success for an hour, we gave up on the RSPCA. We could still see the swan, in full sunshine, in a distressed state from where we were moored. John then took charge and phoned Cambridge Police for assistance. The lady on the other end of the phone obviously had an affinity with swans, and was sympathetic to our problem. She just said “Leave it with me.” She took our telephone number, and name of our boat.

About half an hour later, we got a phone call from an RSPCA Inspector saying he was on the bridge, and was looking at the swan. John joined him, to offer any help he could. The RSPCA inspector had been coming out of  court when the police phoned him, and he was still in his best ‘court clothes’.

Donning waders, and holding a hooked pole, he prodded the bank with the pole to test where he could step to get near to the swan. At one point the swan managed to swim towards the centre of the river, but soon gave up, leaving a small breeze to push her/him back towards the bank again, and close enough for the Inspector to ‘hook’ the swan with his pole. Once caught, the swan was placed in a special bag, making it easy to carry the swan without doing any damage.

The Inspector thinks the swan has been in distress for days as it was emaciated. His thoughts were that the swan, including the dead one, had been poisoned. Maybe not from any malicious act, but perhaps through a fungus brought on by the recent hot weather. He said that when he gets back to base, the vet will probably euthanize the swan, as it is so sick.  He’ll write a report for the Environment Agency, mentioning the other swan that had died. He doubted the Agency would bother with an autopsy to discover precisely how it died, as they are expensive.

We mentioned how difficult it was to get through to the RSPCA, and how we resorted to getting help via the police. The Inspector mentioned that due to the hot weather, they are extremely busy (dogs left in cars?).

Edited to say: Strange though, after being on the Great Ouse which is teeming with wildlife, there’s hardly any other wildlife here on the Lark. No ducks, moorhens, or even any other flying birds. Very strange.

We travelled 7.5 miles, and zero locks.

Topping Up Cyan’s Tanks

Last evening’s sunset was pure magic! ‘Our’ seal had returned to his (or her) spot on the mooring, and was literally zonked out asleep as I took the photo.

We left our mooring by Hilgay Bridge, but not before taking on water.

It makes life so much easier now the water tank gauge has started working again. After two showers, and with the washing machine doing a cycle, the gauge registered ‘2’ (full is 10). We took a measurement between the hard bank and the boat’s hull to see how low/high Cyan sits in the water when the water tank is practically empty, and between when the water tank’s full. John thinks the bow sits lower in the water by approx. 6 inches when the tank is brimmed. This obviously would make a big difference when going through the low bridges on the Middle Levels.

On our return, before we attempt the Middle Levels, we’ve made a note to stop at yesterday’s mooring to brim the water tank, and of course to see the seal one more time.

We hadn’t gone very far on our journey when we spotted the seal in the water. He (or she) was swimming with about a foot long fish in it’s mouth. By the time I’d grabbed the camera he was practically out of range. Though I did manage to watch him roll in his back with the fish, as if he was playing with the fish. I expect he’s lonely, though he looks quite happy and healthy.

This is a pic from the Internet, which looks exactly as we saw ‘our’ seal today.

Babies are growing fast!

At Brandon Creek Junction, or The Little Ouse Junction, we turned left, making a note that it would be nice to visit ‘The Ship PH’ when we return.

We wanted to visit ‘The Little Ouse Moorings’ to top up with diesel. The diesel tank was topped with 72 litres of diesel at 89p per litre. As we bought diesel the owners let us use their Elsan point, and dump our rubbish which had grown into a small mountain. Turning at the service mooring, we made our way back to The Ship PH, turning left to be on the Great Ouse again, and mooring just after The Ship on an EA 48hr mooring.

Our plan was to push on to Littleport for an essential visit to the CoOp, our fresh vegetable/fruit stocks are not just low, they’re now non existent. When we get to the marina on Saturday, we’re hoping to get a big Tesco delivery.

The weather was hot, and as we were passing a pub, we moored, and popped in for a couple of cool beers, and a very tasty, crispy battered haddock and chips.

Today we’ve cruised 4.5 miles, and no locks.


We’re dragging our heals rudder a bit as we’ve got 17 miles to go until we reach our destination on the River Lark by Saturday. Since reaching the Great River Ouse, the weather has been glorious. Some might say it’s too hot, but I wouldn’t like to be negative about it; it could change all too soon.

Saturday morning was hot, yet very calm, with the river hardly moving. We’d planned to black paint the hull of the boat, and paint the gunnels with ‘Andy Russell Gunnel Paint’. Loads of ‘hay’, from long mown grass along the mooring was put on the water between the bank and the boat, just in case there were drips. It wasn’t long before one side of the boat was looking sharp and tidy. It was dry within half an hour. The ‘hay’ was gathered up and disposed of.

In the afternoon we moved Cyan to the other side of the river to paint the other side of Cyan. We never managed to paint it though; while we were there the wind got up, and kept blowing the protective ‘hay’ away. We didn’t like to take the chance of dropping any paint into the river, preferring to defer the job until we’re sure there’ll be no accidents.

Leaving our weekend’s mooring yesterday morning.

Passing a Grebe family. The little ones are diving as good as their parents. Their head’s are stripy.

River Wissey to the left.

House with a Dutch influence

It wasn’t long before we were at our planned mooring, just after Hilgay Bridge.

During the afternoon, we couldn’t believe how lucky we were, a seal was swimming around our boat.

For about 30 minutes the seal was giving us quite a show, it was fascinating how agile, and fast it could swim.

The boys (top right corner) had been jumping off the road bridge and diving into the water, showing off how fearless they were. As soon as they saw the seal swimming around, they decided it wouldn’t be a good idea to upset the seal.

The seal then became quite interested with the mooring bank.

Eventually it ‘jumped’ onto the bank.

A local dog walker said the seal has been in this area for about two years, and it’s been known to perform for people. She said often she’s sat on a seat by the river with her dog, and the seal’s come along and splashed them.

The seal enjoyed drying out in the sunshine. Amazing how it’s coat changed from a texture quite ‘slippery’ looking, to something quite fluffy.

I’m pretty sure I can see something of a smug smile.

The seal didn’t appear to be bothered by us at all. 

Rusty isn’t too well at the moment, he’s got an upset tummy again. We think it’s because he drank from a bucket of Ouse water. We had a BBQ on Saturday night; just in case as everywhere is quite dry, we kept a bucket of water close by. Or perhaps it was the treat of a few pieces of cheese which made him ill – such is his dodgy constitution. Since he was poorly several months back, he now doesn’t have any pig meat. There’s something in pork that upsets dogs, and you never see dog food with pork added.

We were moored at the end of the mooring, where the pathway comes to an end. Therefore we had to walk past the seal with Rusty; Rusty was desperately trying to make us understand he needed to go out. With the seal being just a few feet away, John held onto to Rusty’s collar tightly, keeping him as close as possible to the wooden railings. The seal just looked, but there didn’t appear to be any fear. Rusty obviously hadn’t seen anything like it, and he was definitely stopped from investigating.

At 2:30 am Rusty woke us wanting to go out, John got out of bed to take him, and again John kept him tightly away from the seal. Annoyingly Rusty didn’t ‘perform’ – probably Rusty’s curiosity was worrying him and he wanted to be nosy. At 4:30 am Rusty started crying again; this time it was my turn. When we got outside the seal had gone!

As Rusty’s tummy is still upset, he’s not eaten anything today, we thought we’d have another day here (what could be worse 🙂 ).


‘Our’ seal’s back again! 🙂

We’ve travelled just under 3 miles.

Longhorns, And Whales

We were on parade pretty early this morning, ‘time and tide wait for no man’! By 9:00 am we were ready for our ascent through Salter’s Lode Lock (can you believe that), climbing up onto the Gt Ouse, which is of course at sea level.

The Lock Keeper came to speak to John, and the other boater who was moored in front of us, for a quick pep talk. Although we’d taken off the flower pots from the roof as a precaution, the Lock Keeper was a little concerned at the height of our cratch frame, and suggested the other boater went through first allowing the tide to lower the water level in the river. He invited John to observe the Lock operation and to pick up a few tips on negotiating the river.

Waiting for a boat to come down the lock. Surprisingly we’d previously met the boaters as we shared a couple of locks together on the Nene. It appeared they had a great time visiting Ely and Huntington.

By the time our turn came to go through the lock, already the water was about a foot down, therefore we didn’t have a ‘height’ problem anymore.

Lock Keeper suggested Cyan pushes against the front gate to steady her. Opening the paddle, it really let the water in with a whoosh!

Soon the gate was opened for us to leave. You can just about see the ‘tide mark’ where the water was higher for the first boat.

So this is the Great Ouse. Cyan being put into a hard right turn, and we were out onto the tidal flow.


Lock Keeper watched us turn into the flow of the Ouse from his garden. A big thumbs up as we passed him. He (joked) awards ‘marks’ for helmsman ship to those entering, and leaving Salter’s Lode Lock.

The Lock Keeper was also on the lookout for a whale! The whale was spotted entering the Ouse at Kings Lynn at 8:00 yesterday morning, and is believed to be a pilot or minke whale.

Must remember the Lock Keeper’s advice when we return. He told us to turn into the lock as soon as we reach the ‘X on the pole’. Otherwise the current will make us ‘over shoot’ the lock entrance.

As soon as we hit the deep water, Cyan ‘picked up her skirt’ to ‘battle’ the current that was against her.

It’s a short distance to travel on the tidal stretch before we go through Denver Lock. The boat in the distance coming towards us had just left Denver Lock, and was making for Salter’s Lode.

Approaching Denver Lock, the Lock Keeper waiting for us with the gate up.

In Denver lock we dropped down to join the non-tidal Great Ouse.

Looking back to where we left Denver Lock. There’s another boat preparing to go in.

Jenyns Arms at the bottom of Denver Lock.

We didn’t travel far from Denver Lock, a mooring space was vacant at the furthest end of the first mooring we came across. A perfect place for us!

It’s been a hot day, and we’re looking forward to a BBQ when the weather turns cooler this evening.

As soon as we moored we were met by a Swan family. Already Mum and Dad are teaching their young to scrounge food. If swans can’t find enough food from this huge, and clean river then something is wrong.

No sign of the whale, but we watched this English Longhorn swim towards us, before settling for a rest on a bank of river mud. The water on this hot day must have been tempting.

Just as I started to worry that ‘someone’ should be alerted, thinking the  cow/bull couldn’t get out of the river, the beast climbed nonchalantly up the steep bank.

Baby Grebe having a ride on mum’s back.

The bank where we’re moored is rather low, making the under gunnel area of Cyan quite exposed. It’s a perfect opportunity to paint the starboard side of the hull with blacking paint down to the waterline. On Sunday if there’s space for us to go to the mooring on the opposite side of the river, we’ll do the same on Cyan’s port-side. We’d rather not be moving much over the weekend, leaving the river free for weekend boaters. But then again, plans may change.

Today we’ve only travelled half a mile, and through 2 tidal locks.