Restocking. 18th April

Sainsburys, Nottingham to Trent Lock Pontoon

P1010836smThere were still a few things that we wanted to get supplies wise whilst we were in Nottingham. Firstly our new wine cellar was looking very empty, so needed stocking up. Finesse must have known that we tend to buy six boxes of wine at a time as there is the right amount of space under the back steps. Then Mick walked up into the city centre to Whittards to stock up on my morning brew, Afternoon Tea.

IMG_20170418_112755379smOn his way back he popped into Ultimate Outdoors in the next retail park to see what they might have in the way of 20 litre plastic containers. As Finesse have called it our Yellow water tank (wee) is 20 litres and under the bathroom floor. There is a gulper pump to empty this through what looks like a standard pump out fitting. We have an attachment that fits to this with a length of hose on it. So far we have been lucky on our moorings as to where we could empty our Yellow water tank, but not all moorings will have a handy hedge to water! The pump certainly kicks out our yellow water with force so a suitable container to contain it was needed. Ultimate Outdoors came up trumps with a 23 litre black water tank. The only downside is that it would be handy to be able to see how much we produce over a couple of days so that we can gauge when it will need emptying.

P1010842smP1010849smWhilst Mick was out I had a tidy, washed the port side windows and had a tinker with our blogs. NB Oleanna’s blog has had a bit of a make over and I suspect we’ll keep tinkering with it for a while. In a weeks time our cruising blog will only be posted on NB Oleanna’s blog, leaving NB Lillyanne’s blog behind. It will only get updated when anything significant happens to her. The build of NB Oleanna will be moved to a blog specifically to do with the build, which apart from a few snagging bits and bobs, oh and batteries is also complete. So if you would like to continue following our travels please sign up to follow us on the NB Oleanna blog.

P1010855smAfter lunch we pushed off and made our way through Nottingham towards Beeston. The last couple of miles was slow going as we had caught up a boat who seemed to like travelling on tick over, he then somehow managed to slow down even more to pass boats. We don’t travel fast by any means, but his progress was at a snails pace. We pulled in to deal with rubbish before we continued.

Beeston Lock takes you back out onto the Trent and is normally only about a foot difference in water levels. Paddles are left open at both ends to let water flow through Nottingham to keep the pound to Meadow Lock constant.

P1020007smBack out on the river we could speed up. The afternoon was sunny and the Trent calm, a lovely day to be cruising. Properties along the river all seem to be summer houses with moorings. We were disappointed not to have a wave from a lady who has always been in her garden when we’ve passed, but to make up for it there was a toddler behind a large picture window who’s arms must have been falling off with the amount of waving he gave us.

P1020016smA dry dock has been created to house the restoration of a Dunkirk Boat, we did wonder if they had needed planning permission to erect such a large structure on the water.

P1020027smThe river narrows and gets confused shortly before Cranfleet Lock, Mick doesn’t like this stretch, but soon we were by the pontoon ready to set the lock. Cranfleet is quite a deep lock and has windlasses welded onto the paddle mechanisms, the gates have long beams but are still very heavy. Mick went up to set the lock whilst I watched quite large waves going the wrong way on the river. Once in the lock I passed a rope up to Mick who tied Oleanna off to a bollard, then he started to fill the lock very gradually. The paddles on the lock don’t quite do what you expect of them and even though we’ve been through here quite a few times we can never remember which is the best way to do it, or even if we’ve sussed it out yet!

P1020033smSigns along the cut show the proposed location of a viaduct that is proposed when HS2 comes through. The building of it will take quite some doing and the cut won’t be the same. At the end of the cutting we had choices as to which way to continue, to the left and the Soar, straight on to the Trent and Mersey. We went straight on and as there was space on Trent Lock pontoon we pulled in and moored at one of our favourite places. Tomorrow we need to find some coal as the weather forecast is for very chilly nights.

P1020053smDSCF7114sm2 locks, 8.16 miles, 6 boxes of wine, 3 lots of tea, 23 litre container, 2 cheese twists! 2 blogs altered, 1 side clean windows, 1 very slow boat to Beeston, 2 bin bags, 3 boats on lock landings, 1 black cat, 1 space on the outside pontoon.

This is a dual post with NB Oleanna’s Blog.

In a weeks time our cruising blog will only be posted on NB Oleanna’s blog and NB Lillyanne’s blog will only be updated when something significant happens. So if you would like to continue to follow our travels please click to follow Oleanna.

It All Happens at Gunthorpe. 17th April

Gunthorpe Visitor Moorings to Sainsburys Nottingham

Last night Mick popped out to check the ropes before we went to bed, as we were on a river he was actually checking the ropes! Someone from one of the cruisers on the pontoon asked if we had a good torch as someone had gone missing off one of the boats. Mick got our big torch and went out to see what was happening. From inside Oleanna I could see flashing blue lights outside the pub, the gate onto the pontoons was constantly opening and closing. Blimey I thought, had someone gone in!

I went out to see if I could help also, but then realised I hadn’t got a torch and couldn’t see the edge of Oleanna to step off. There was a group of people at the other end of the pontoons, a policeman stood talking into his radio and firemen walking in the direction of the lock. Large beams of light swept across the river. A lady on one of the cruisers hadn’t been able to find her daughter, she was rather pissed and was getting in a panic. Other people had suggested checking through the boat again, but the lady was certain that her daughter had fallen in and been swept away by the current.

Mick soon returned, the daughter had been found, on the toilet, on the boat. At least she was safe and dry!

P1010745smP1010746smThis morning we took even longer to get going so had a bit of cooked breakfast. Strange noises were coming from outside, it sounded like a dog seriously out of breath. So we opened up the hatch to look. There on the pontoon stood a Muscovy Duck bobbing, dancing and wheezing away looking at his reflection in the side of Oleanna. Either he’d taken a fancy to our new boat or he’d taken a fancy to the rather attractive bird that was dancing along with him. He carried on for quite sometime.

We eventually moved off and carried on towards Nottingham. Everyone seemed to be heading in the opposite direction, the breasted up narrowboats and several cruisers had left before us all heading to Newark.

P1010765smOn the next reach of the river we passed Burton Joyce, this is where I came from! Plenty of trees were in blossom through the village and up the hill. The low banks of the river here are very pretty, a gang of lambs were jumping on and off the grassy banks down onto the little beeches.

P1010764smP1010783smStoke Lock soon came into view. We stopped here for a night a couple of years ago and had a lovely walk around the lock. It has a character all to itself. Instead of the horrible blue risers on the lock walls it has large wooden pillars with metal rails attached for your ropes. It is surrounded by woodland with a large variety of trees. This and Hazelford Lock are our favourites.

P1010788smA short distance on and we approached Holme Lock. Here the large weir stretches across the river, it has sluices so that the level of water can be controlled in Nottingham quite easily should the river rise. This lock is deep and we seemed to stand holding onto our ropes for hours as it was gradually filled. The hydroelectric station seems to have been completed as there is now no sign of a building sight. But the island is still waiting to be landscaped and the permanent moorings return to that side of the cut.

P1010802smAbove the lock there is a sailing club and there has always been either sailing or rowing going on along the next reach. But today no-one was out on the water. The trip boats have a new home a bit further out of town with a new building to keep them company. Their old home always looked down at heal, now it looks even worse as all the windows have been smashed.

As we rounded the last bend before Meadow Lock, Trent Bridge came into view and I could hear chanting. A large group of was crossing the bridge heading to Notts County Football Club. A single hander was coming down the lock , Mick helped and let the chap get back on his boat. We were now on our own again, no lock keepers from here until Foxton or Sawley depending on which way we go.

P1010820smChanting followed us all the way up to the sharp left turn. Crowds were making their way to the ground from all over. Two chaps started pointing at us and chanting. At first we couldn’t make out what it was, but then we realised that it was “Rosie and Jim, Rosie and Jim”.

P1010826smAs we approached the left turn a boat shot across in front of us at quite a speed, did they know to turn towards us? They were winding and kindly let us turn the bend first, just as another boat was coming towards us. Gosh an almost traffic jam on the Nottingham and Beeston Canal. The second boat also winded and they both waited for us to go up Castle Lock on our own so that they could share. The moorings by Sainsburys were quite full, but we found a space long enough for Oleanna. I really need to pace out how long she is for future occasions so we know if she’ll fit into tight spots.

P1010831smThis afternoon has been spent in Sainsburys, filling a shopping trolley to almost overflowing and then wheeling it back to the boat. A chicken has been jointed some of which has been frozen for later. Tomorrow we’ll have to return to stock up on wine boxes, they wouldn’t fit in the trolley today!

DSCF7114sm4 locks, 11.37 miles, 1 right, 2 fire engines, 1 police car, 1 teenager on the loo, 1 amorous duck, 1 lady in dark glasses, 0 sharing, 2 day boats, 5000 Portsmouth fans, 0 Rosie and Jims on board Oleanna! 6 ducklings, 1 large shopping trolley, 1 lonely Tilly look alike boat cat, 1 pack citonella candles.

This is a dual post with NB Oleanna’s Blog.

Our blogs will be changing, as we now have built our boat and NB Lillyanne will be up for sale in a few weeks. We’ll let you know what is happening once we know.

Nine and Three Quarters. 16th April

Cromwell Lock to Gunthorpe Visitor Moorings

A slower start for us today after yesterdays major cruise. A top up of water from the tap on the pontoon proved that a stainless steel tank once nearly full makes a booming noise. We now have a water tank gauge but an audible sound prompts you to go and stand by the tap waiting for the over flow to happen.

P1010651smDespite the weather report being for rain the majority of the day with wind we decided to set off and see where we’d get to before we got fed up. The river all the way up to Trent Lock is very familiar to us so we don’t feel the urge to stop and explore. A shopping list of things that Boyes in Newark would almost certainly provide us with will have to wait for Nottingham as shops would be closed today because of Easter.

We pushed off shortly before 11am and worked our way up the river. There were no fishermen lining the banks as we approached Newark. We found this odd for a bank holiday, but it turns out that it is the closed season from 15th March until 15th June.

P1010662smOver the radio we could hear that there were boats on the way from Nether Lock, so Mick radioed ahead as we got to the A1 bridge so that the lock could be made ready for us. Each lock along the Trent is manned for most of the year, so a vhf radio makes it a very easy cruise. The light was on green as we approached so we could go straight in.

Going up these locks it is always best to sit as far back as you can and have both a bow and stern line around the risers as they can normally be quite fierce towards the top gates. We have done these with just a centre line and with me pushing buttons when they haven’t been manned in the winter. We never rush getting ourselves sorted and with a new boat we are taking it slower still, hoping to keep the gunnels looking nice.

The Lockie kept popping out of his little house to look at the top gates, it seemed to take forever for the level to start to rise. But rise it did very slowly. As at all the locks we were asked our name, number and where we were heading to today, they radio ahead to the next lock for you. I’m very glad they didn’t ask me as Oleanna’s number is not embedded in my head yet, but Mick being a boy the number has already been put into his mental filing cabinet where it can be accessed with ease.

P1010666smWe spent three months in Newark winter before last and it feels like coming home. On the banks just above Nether Lock were these little huts, they are new since last year. You can hire them for a weekend to fish from for £50. They come with a 12 volt kettle and a few basic home comforts. Of course they were empty today, a good idea but I can think of better places to sit for the weekend that don’t have two rail lines and the A1 nearby.

P1010682smP1010675smAt Kings Marina it looked quite full and in our old space was the old Marina Supervisor’s boat Camelot. To our great surprise Kiln Pontoon moorings had plenty of space even at the end with electric and the low wall was empty too. Newark had always tended to be really busy, where was everyone?


P1010686smP1010688smTown Lock was ready and we were joined by a tug from Newark Marina called Friar Tuck. He had just been moving an historic Humber Keel down to moor next to the Castle Barge. We were envious of his wonderfully thick ropes that he just hooked over the bollards at either end. Oleanna came with quite narrow ropes, with my impaired grip I find them hard to cling onto. When we get near Braunston we’ll visit the rope shop and replace them with thicker ropes.

P1010691smP1010712smPootling out of the town there was something  missing. Where had Blackbird gone? An old workboat, it hadn’t looked like it would be going very far without some serious work, but it has now vanished. The Cormorants sat as always on top of the poles warning of the big weir and showers came and went. Passing Fiskerton there was space on the pontoon, Naughty Cal was moored right at the end leaving enough space for a narrowboat. Despite the pub being appealing we wanted to get further today so carried on.

P1010727smAt Hazelford Lock we waited for Dutch Barge Anja to catch us up. They had big hooks attached to ropes which they hooked onto the risers and then tied off, leaving them free to do as they wanted as the boat rose in the lock. Last year long pontoons had appeared above the lock, it looked like there was so much mooring that it would never get full. But today it was reaching capacity.

P1010656smDB Anja sped off ahead leaving us to pootle along admiring the trees on the hillside next to the river. Yesterday and today we have started to see a rather attractive bird flying around a bit like a Tern. A hunt on the internet and it turns out that they are Oystercatchers with their orange bills, red eyes and a striking white band across their black wings.

P1010739smNext was THAT LOCK! Even though DB Anja had arrived well ahead of us they were waiting to go up and had taken the lefthand wall. We pulled in along the right wall slowly, I passed the end of my rope around the riser and signalled to Mick that I was ready so that he could do the same. I then looked up at the Lock Keepers hut, it was very familiar. I then looked at the riser, this had to be THE RISER! I took a deep breath and concentrated as we rose. When the gates ahead opened and I’d coiled my rope back up I turned to Mick and held up all 9.75 fingers, they were all still there, THE RISER hadn’t taken any more from me.

By now we were quite cold from the wind so hoped that there would be space on the pontoon moorings above the lock. It was pretty full a couple of narrowboats were breasted up, but there was space for us on the inside. We drifted back into the mooring and tied up for the day. Well ahead of ourselves we’ll be able to get to Nottingham tomorrow and do a big shop at Sainsburys and maybe even go hunting for a few other bits.

IMAG3308smDSCF7114sm4 locks, 18.45 miles, 4.6mph at the same revs as yesterday, 1 lie in, 2 Easter eggs, 1 packet of mini eggs, 3 oystercatchers, 10 showers, 2 centre lines attached, 2 gas bottles attached, 3 hours rising too long, 2 compliments on Oleanna, 1 scraped gunnel, 2 damp pink faced grins.

This is a dual post with NB Oleanna’s Blog.

Our blogs will be changing, as we now have built our boat and NB Lillyanne will be up for sale in a few weeks. We’ll let you know what is happening once we know.

Record Breaking Day. 15th April

Keadby Lock to Cromwell Lock

P1010482smIt’s a good job it’s spring with light mornings as this is helping us to wake before the alarm goes off each morning. Today we needed to be up and ready for the off by 7.30am, we were ready and waiting when the lock light turned green. The Lock Keeper came over to check everyone was okay and where we were all heading to, all three boats were hoping to reach Cromwell today. With an early start and a high tide it would be possible, but we all had the idea that if we’d had enough we could stop at Torksey for the night.

P1010486smOnce the road swing bridge was open we pulled in to one side of the lock, NB Lazy Jayne the other and then NB Anchor Management slotted themselves in between us both. There was lots of chat going on as the water started to be emptied out of the lock. Then shouts from the chap on NB Lazy Jayne, he thought that his rope was caught and his boat was starting to list. Everyone shouted and Mick bipped our very loud horn to alert the Lockie. The paddles were dropped and the boat sat at quite an angle, it wasn’t the rope, but it was hung up on something. Then whatever had held it gave way and the boat righted itself with a jolt. It was a horrible feeling for us, never mind for the couple who owned it! Everyone was okay, no time to have a restorative cuppa, the tide wouldn’t wait.

P1010493smP1010499smNB Anchor Management led the way and we brought up the rear of our flotilla. We’ve been out of Keadby once before back in 2015 when the Trent was a mill pond and we got sunburn, today there’d be no sunburn just windburn. Having said that there were moments where the river was wonderfully calm, but then a bend would take us straight into the wind and white horses faced us. Before the A18 bridge NB Lazy Jayne passed NB Anchor Management then soon after the bridge they waved us past. The last we saw of them was around Owston Ferry.

P1010546smP1010574smOur VHF radio sprung to life as two cruisers came into view ahead, they were informing each other of our presence and both slowed down. Downstream of Gainsborough there isn’t a speed limit so they had both been ‘riding the plane’. Their wake was the biggest we’ve ever encountered, hitting it with the bow of Oleanna had spray coming onto the roof. It was like the end of an episode of Hawaii Five O! It really is a good job I’m not prone to seasickness! As soon as they felt they were at a suitable distance they opened the throttle back up and sped away. Their wake continued for quite sometime, keeping us bouncing around, listening to the prop in the changing water for a good 15 minutes. Then turning round one bend the water calmed down again.

P1010572smAt West Stockwith a cruiser came out from the lock surprising NB Lazy Jayne, both boats slowed down and then the cruiser crossed in front of us and headed towards Keadby. A mile further on and we’d reached the halfway point to Torksey. We’d been told that if we reached Torksey between 11.30 and 12.30 we’d be fine to reach Cromwell, we were well on track. The channel through Gainsborough gets quite narrow, this has the effect of speeding the incoming tide up. Mick checked his speedo ap on his phone, we were doing 9mph. Good job there were no moored boats about!

P1010592smP1010610smApproaching Torksey we decided that we’d continue, NB Lazy Jayne carried on too. From here we kept a closer eye on our Trent charts, sholes, sunken islands hide waiting to catch you out, although with the depth of water we now had we were unlikely to have any problems. One problem we did have was as I opened the hatch to go below, Our second mate had decided to elevate her cruising position and sit on our Nicholsons shelf, it’s a tight squeeze, but the highest feline position in our new inside.

P1010612smAt about 10km to go the tide stopped coming in, it just stopped. Our speed had already dropped, but now we pootled along. With 5km to go I noticed a cruiser behind us, then another. They both sat patiently behind us as the river bends a lot along the last stretch before Cromwell and we’d all end up sharing the lock anyway, so why hurry. The cruiser that pulled in behind us in the lock was Naughty Cal, we knew we’d come across them today as they had come down Torksey Lock at lunchtime. So Mick had a chat as I tried clinging on for dear life at the front of Oleanna. I strongly suspect Cromwell lock has grated off some of the paint on our rubbing strips! Oh well it was going to happen sooner than later.

P1010644smThere was space for us on the inside of the pontoon as well as NB Lazy Jayne. We were all moored up almost a day ahead of schedule by 2.45pm. Today is the furthest we’ve ever travelled by narrowboat in a day, so a record for us. Mick walked to the local shop (A1 service station) for our Saturday paper and some milk, NB Anchor Management was just coming up the lock almost two hours behind us.


2 locks, 44.34 miles, 1 swing, 2 close for comfort, 2ft waves, 7 going that way, 2 slices Tidal Trent Toast, 9 mph, 1 ski jump, 2nd mate being cheeky, 1 blogging boat, 3 cruisers on the outside, 1 thin bow rope, 1 bad grip, 1 sunk yacht, 2 hours behind, 2 racing boats, 2 red wind burnt grinning faces.

This is a dual post with NB Oleanna’s Blog.

Our blogs will be changing, as we now have built our boat and NB Lillyanne will be up for sale in a few weeks. We’ll let you know what is happening once we know.

Bridges, Bridges and Bridget. 14th April

Bramwith Junction to Keadby Lock

IMAG3294smWaking in the morning to a view is great. Todays view did however mean that we would be seeing some rain during the day. We did allow ourselves a bit of a lull in bed before a quick breakfast and pushing off at 8.45am.

P1010364smNot far to our first lock, back onto short wide locks. Mick went ahead to fill the lock and just as I was untying Oleanna a huge widebeam pulled out and started to reverse towards the water point opposite me. A couple of minutes and I’d have been out of his way and in the lock, but instead I did my best to cling onto Oleanna (which is harder than normal at the moment) whilst he toed and froed back and forth. As soon as I thought there was enough space for me to pull out I did. Gosh the lock was short, yesterday I could motor in and have plenty of time to stop, today I gingerly edged Oleanna forward to be clear of the cil.

The first of todays many bridges was just up ahead where there was a boat waiting to come through. So we obliged by pressing the buttons for them so they didn’t have to come out of their wheel house in the rain, we were starting to get wet anyway. On we pootled through the wooded section where the towpath looks like it has had the pot holes filled to improve the ride for the local motorbikes.

IMG_20170414_104719882smP1010402smMuch sooner than we thought we were approaching Thorne. Yesterday I’d called ahead to check on diesel prices, Staniland 75p Thorne Boating Services 72p, so we continued on past Staniland to the lock. Here there is a swing bridge just before the lock and the two are interlinked, so you have to fill the lock and open the gates (all button operated) before you can swing the bridge. Since we were last here some alterations have been made to the controls. No longer is there a hole dissertation on the side of the control panel for you to fathom your way through, it is much easier.

IMG_20170414_114406899_HDRsmP1010418smA crane came into view at Thorne Boating Services, they were preparing to lift a boat out so we reversed into one of the service moorings to wait. When we were given the all clear Mick brought us round, only to be told that the hose wouldn’t reach. So back we went to the services to wind, which of course meant that we had to wind again after we’d finished.

The diesel tank was filled to the top for the first time in it’s life. Ricky had said that this would calibrate the gauge, however it still doesn’t read full. With gas heating we are not sure how long a 13kg bottle will last. On Lillian we change a bottle every three months, but that was only used for cooking. So we decided to pay the deposit on a second bottle of gas. If we come across an empty bottle or two somewhere we’ll pick them up and trade them back in for the deposit. Two new float keyrings and some weed hatch tape for our fender hooks were our other purchases, shame we forgot to get a bag of coal!

P1010440smDue to waiting for the flying boats we were a bit behind and canalplan had suggested it would take us nearly four hours to reach Keadby, so no time to stop for lunch as we were meeting friends. The two times we’ve done this stretch I’ve had problems with Thorne Bridge, the barriers have been a bit temperamental and so were the lights on the panel. Mick went armed with this information and I expected to have to wait for a while. When he turned the key there was a ticking from the barriers, this stopped when all were shut, a new feature! Someone has at last solved the problems on this bridge, they were most probably getting bored of the phone calls.

P1010422smThen we worked our way through more bridges, one lift the others swing, each one a bit different to the others. Our waterproofs earnt their keep as the heavens kept opening. The railway hugs onto the side of the cut for most of the way and the skyline is filled with wind turbines. With the deep grey clouds and the bright yellow rape seed the view was still a jolly even if wet.

P1010459smAs we approached the last of the swing bridges we could see another boat ahead, would they wait for us? No we were quite a distance behind. Just after the swing bridge is Vazon Sliding Rail Bridge which is operated from the signal box. As I was just bringing Oleanna through the swing bridge and Mick was starting to close it I could hear the sirens going that indicate that the sliding bridge was about to open. Before we’ve had to wait five ten minutes, but today as Mick stepped on the stern the bridge started to slide to open up the cut for us.

Just as we were finishing tying up at the moorings two familiar faces were walking towards us. Bridget and Storm from NB Blackbird had come to meet NB Oleanna. Many things were inspected and we may have helped them find some good door furniture for their new house. A cuppa and catching up was done along with some toilet talk, I forgot to ask how their grandsons first birthday party was last weekend. We also reaffirmed plans of doing the Ribble link together later this year. Thank you very much for the presents Bridget.

P1010472smOleanna had reached 25 engine hours today, the gear box oil needed changing. So Mick got into the engine bay and gave her a freshen up. Several other boats have turned up ready to go down the lock tomorrow. We will be one of three going to Torksey or beyond if we are making good time. The anchor has been attached, so all we need now is a good nights sleep if the visitors to the car park allow.

DSCF7114sm2 locks, 15.06 miles, 1 lift bridge, 8 swing bridges, 1 sliding bridge, 13 held up plus 2 dogs, 2 wet boaters, 80 litres diesel, 2 key floats, 1m tape, £40 deposit, 1 low flying boat, 1 wire twist extension, 9 trains, 2 visitors, 4 bean plants, 2.5 litres oil, 1 anchor, 1 boat ready, 1 Mark out of 3, 2 grins, 3 motorbikes already.


This is a dual post with NB Oleanna’s Blog.

Our blogs will be changing, as we now have built our boat and NB Lillyanne will be up for sale in a few weeks. We’ll let you know what is happening once we know.

Ticking Off The Miles. 13th April

Eastwood Lock to Bramwith Junction

The alarm was set again for this morning so that we could try to catch up having stopped early yesterday. Our schedule is based on a seven hour cruise each day so there is room to expand should we need to. At the moment we can’t let it slip as we have to be at Keadby tomorrow night for the lock first thing Saturday morning.

P1010251smDSCF4461smP1010254smYesterday we had short wide locks, but today we were into the big commercial locks of the South Yorkshire Navigation. These locks are operated by using the key of power (C&RT key), they have a panel at each end which operates the gates and sluices at that end. So once your boat is in the lock with the gates and sluices closed you have to walk the 60m or so to the other end to empty or fill it.

P1010285smMost locks reset themselves to being full after you have passed through them, but Eastwood Lock for some reason is always empty. There is no speeding up the operation of the sluices from the panels lock side, I suspect a lock keeper can though from their observational control rooms. So it takes forever to fill these huge olympic sized locks to then spend ages emptying them, but at least they are easy to operate.

P1010260smToday we had stretches of river interspersed with locks, flood locks and cuts. I stayed at the helm apart from at two locks, well I don’t want to hog all the manoeuvring of Oleanna and Mick could so easily get out of practice!  Our second lock today was Aldwarke Lock which takes you down onto a river section. I decided that I’d like to press the buttons on this one and stretch my legs, nothing to do with the lock landing being a bit awkward to get to round the corner. A C&RT chap was there painting the bollards. Now I know how it feels when people think they are being really original and funny when they say “You missed a bit!”, but this chap really had. I could envisage his frustration when he stood back to check his handywork after tidying away to see half a post still white.

P1010264smOnce on the first stretch of river Mick decided to open up the throttle to see how Oleanna’s engine coped with higher revs, a kind of sea test before we hit the Tidal Trent on Saturday. She did well as we’d expected, looking behind our wash was minimal, but that could also have been due to the depth of water.

P1010273smKilnhurst Flood Lock was level at both ends, but you still have to go through the motions of opening and closing gates to walk to the other end to do the same there. Around here was where we were meant to have reached yesterday, so we were only 1.5 hours behind.

P1010275smThrough Waddington Lock where all the old work boats sit waiting for something to happen. One of them would make a gigantic home for someone, but I’d hate to think what a licence would cost. Between the Mexborough Locks we passed familiar boats, one of which may well have been in exactly the same position last year on the very long lock landing.

P1010310smThe next stretch was long, so there was time to make a cuppa and put the dishwasher on. The batteries need to have recovered before things like the dish washer are put on and having a stretch where the engine wouldn’t be idling was useful. Our new cooker is excelling itself, it only takes marginally longer to use the stove top kettle than the electric. No more waiting around for 10 minutes for it to boil! Just wonder how much gas it’s getting through though.

IMAG3289smAt Sprotbrough we thought of our friends Alison and Laura on NB Large Marge. They sing the praises of the butchers there every time we see them. We however had got side tracked at looking at the architecture of the church and missed the butchers completely. But then who appears on Google Street view, Mick at the stern, me by the bow and is that Tilly in a window!

imageDSCF4470smDoncaster Lock was closed for a month during the maintenance period and has very new bottom gates to show for it. We had toyed with bringing Lillian back to Sheffield to swap boats there, but this closure got in the way and was possibly going to delay things. With hindsight it would have worked out for us.

Our clock order had arrived in Thorne, we suddenly realised that the Post Office might be closed tomorrow with it being Good Friday. Today was the only time we’d be able to collect it and we were still a few hours cruise away. The only thing for it was to moor up and catch a train to Thorne. Once down Long Sandall Lock we pulled in and Mick made the journey to Thorne by train to pick it up. Sadly after all that it is a bit bigger than I’d thought! So still no clock.

P1010351smWe pootled on a bit further under Barnby Dun lift bridge to where the New Junction Canal heads off north and the Stainforth and Keadby goes east. We are back in the land of big skys with views in both directions, we do like our new windows. After two days of seeing no moving boats this afternoon that has changed. Boats have been motoring past us from Doncaster, four in one convoy. They headed up the New Junction so if they take it in turns to work the bridges they’ll zoom along.

P1010354smDSCF7114sm9 locks, 19.06 miles, 1 lift bridge holding up 27, 1 shouting cat, 0 people listening! 6 grease incidents, 1 set of new gates, 2 trains, 1 parcel, 10 inch not 8, 1 set fire irons, 6 passing boats, 5% to loose, 1 familiar mooring, 2 grins.

This is a dual post with NB Oleanna’s blog.

Our blogs will be changing, as we now have built our boat and NB Lillyanne will be up for sale in a few weeks. We’ll let you know what is happening once we know.

Maiden Voyage. 12th April

Sheffield Basin to Eastwood Lock

P1010131smUp early, it would have been earlier if Tilly had had her way! A mug of tea each and a bowl of cereal we pushed off to the water point to top up Oleanna’s tank. Because she has a bowthruster our water tank is quite a bit smaller (500L) than Lilllian’s (800L) but we no longer have a flushing toilet so we should save quite a bit of water there. At the moment it looks like we get through around 100L a day, almost a quarter of the tank, we have a gauge now!

P1010137smOnce full we pootled through the swing bridge and on to Oleanna’s birth place, Mick beeped the horn, it really is loud! The chaps at the yard couldn’t ignore it and most came out to wave us goodbye. Johnathan wished us well as we passed and we thanked him. No time to stop, we had a rendez vous with a Lock Keeper.


As we reached Shirland Winding Hole Mick gave Oleanna a bit more umph to make sure she wouldn’t just slow and turn around. From here on it is new water for her. That’s better a changing view again!

DSCF4439smP1010159smThe top lock of the flight was open and ready for us, Mick brought Oleanna into it and then stepped off, she was all mine now for the flight. The Lockie asked how long we were, 58ft 6in is what we asked for and hopefully are. Once Oleanna’s bow was past the walkway on the bottom lock gates I could nudge her further away from the cil markers. There is only one cil that you actually get to see on this flight and that is at lock 7&8 which is deep.

DSCF4456smDSCF4443smDSCF4447smShe is that bit easier to drive than Lillian, the morse control is less stiff and she responds quicker. Although I do seem to be developing a certain stance whilst looking down the port side of her. Lillian has no back doors on the cruiser stern, Oleanna does, so even though opened fully there is a bit less room for me to stand out on the back and be able to move the tiller. So I have to stand and lean backwards to see where the gunnel is compared to lock gates. This may change in time especially when my right foot is better.

P1010178smDavid saw us down the first section of locks. He had an electric bike which he rode back and forth up the main section of the flight. All the locks have to be unlocked then locked after we’d gone through. He was quite chatty and although he spends his days unlocking locks and replacing signs that have been shot at he feels lucky to have a nice flight to look after where he gets no bother, “I can just look after you boaters”. He waved us goodbye after Lock 9.

P1010184smP1010192smUnder the M1 to Lock 10 Mick took over the helm to let me sit down for a few minutes. Here Gary was waiting for us a second Lockie. As Mick stepped off I warned him that this was the chap who just opens paddles as soon as he gets to them without checking to see if you are ready. He drove his van down to the next two locks and then waved us goodbye at the bottom lock of the flight.

P1010203smMick took over the helm again along the river section. The next lock is a flood lock and last year we were left to operate it ourselves, but it is now kept locked so we were met by Nigel our third Lockie of the day. He said to stay on board and he’d work us down which he also did at Holmes Lock, giving me chance for a longer sit down.

P1010211smP1010219smNow on our own we pootled on to Ickles Lock. A Humber Keel had taken up residency on the lock landing, very helpful on a windy day! No option but to drop mick off on the offside. The mouth of the lock was full of rubbish, Mick tried to open each gate but had no luck. So our boat hook was employed for the first time to clear enough rubbish so that the gate would open. This was of course the side that was partly blocked by the Keel. The girlie button came in useful to achieve the steep angle that was needed to get into the lock.

DSCF4453smRotherham Lock was also surrounded by rubbish and the wind was doing a good job of holding Oleanna into the side. I managed to get her into a good position but too early as the lock wasn’t set so had to back up even more to swing her round through all the footballs and beer cans. Once through we decided that we’d pull up for some lunch and remove whatever had wrapped itself around the prop, we continued on to moor above Eastwood Lock.

P1010226smMick had asked David where Exol Pride was at the moment, this is a large commercial barge that works between Rotherham and Hull, you know when it’s coming your way! We were in luck as it had left Rotherham this morning, it was unlikely that we’d catch it up.

P1010232smThe wind got stronger and stronger which didn’t seem to bother the swans at the huge winding hole, but it was starting to bother us as white horses were showing their heads. We pulled in and had some lunch hoping that it would calm down. But it didn’t. Our aim had been to go for at least another hour before mooring up for the day, maybe even get as far as Sprotbrough. So we’ll have to make up time tomorrow with an earlier start than planned and hope that the wind is kind to us.

P1010236smP1010239smSeveral jobs have been seen to this afternoon whilst I’ve been resting my foot. Mick has solved a problem we’ve been having with the freezer. As you pull the drawer out the cable was getting caught on the drawer runners and pulling the spade connectors out. A small cuphook screwed to the underside of the frame now holds the cable up out of the way. He has also crafted lengths of hose so that we can now empty our yellow water tank (wee tank). We have a 20 L tank under the floor in the bathroom where the urine from our composting toilet goes to. There is a gulper pump to help empty the tank which has an outlet on the gunnel a bit like with a pump out, except we pump out ourselves. The system has been tested and our tank is now empty.

DSCF7114sm15 locks, 7.42 miles, 1 swing bridge, 1 BIG THANK YOU to all at Finesse and Jonathan Wilson, 1 emotional moment, 3 lock keepers, 1 maiden voyage, 1st spotting, 3 gunnel scuffs! 2 much rubbish, 1 leaning helmswoman, 3 open drawers, 1 outside moved, 0 exol pride, 49 swans, 2 much wind, 1 early stop, 1st trip down the weedhatch, 2 wee hoses, 1 Tom in a drawer, 1 freezer sorted, 0 fire irons, 2 grins.

This is a dual post with NB Oleanna’s blog.

Our blogs will be changing, as we now have built our boat and NB Lillyanne will be up for sale in a few weeks. We’ll let you know what is happening once we know.