DAY 2: PANIC, POO AND DRIVING IN THE DARK/ DAY 3: LOCKS, WINDMILLS AND ELLIE CRACKS…

Woke up in Ely to another sunny day, but when we go to fill the kettle the taps run dry. Panic! We immediately assume the worst, something on our boat is broken, there ensues a lot of faffing, looking at pumps, wires, tanks etc… Just thinking we will have to call for back up when Lewis finds the ON button! Amber admits that she had flicked this particular switch earlier not knowing what it was for. But, oh well, the sense of relief more than makes up for the drama… on with the day.

Unfortunately the next task is emptying the toilet cassette (what fun). Amber and I take turns with this wretch-y job, only Amber manages to make it look glamorous!

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We stopped for a lovely picnic lunch…

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but apart from the odd smokey engine the rest of the day was uneventful…

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That is until Denver Lock… this was the first lock of our journey and the last hurdle of the day so we were a bit anxious. It is a massive tidal lock manned by a lock-keeper. It opens onto the tidal steam of the Hundred Foot Drain (or something) and so it only runs when the tide is right. Luckily we arrive with an hour to spare at 5pm so wait for the lock keeper to arrive to travel through. And we wait and we wait.

He does arrive, a lovely man, but so do lots of yachts who want to go through too, and they have the advantage of not needing to go through a second lock on the other side. This makes us a low priority as we have to wait for the second lock (Salter’s Lode) to be ready.

So we wait, and wait. It’s starting to get dark when our turn finally comes…

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We knew that we were under pressure as we would be out on the tidal stream in the dark looking for the narrow entrance to the second lock and a safe place to moor.

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When we see it we’ve already gone past and Lewis keeps his cool turning the 54ft boat upstream, in the pitch black… it takes a couple of goes and some jibes from an impatient lock-keeper but we make it! Once we were moored Lewis admitted he had been a bit nervous about the whole thing!

Day 3… not such a bad day…

We had a good start to the day on the Old Nene River. We had to phone ahead to a lock a couple of hours drive away and we pootled our way to it. Amber and Tam got off along the way and cycled to meet us there. The lock was fine until… on the other side with neither Lewis or Amber on board I had to navigate out of the lock, around some waiting boats and to a tiny pontoon where Amber, Lewis and Tam were waiting…. With Amber and Lewis shouting instructions I made several attempts but the pressure got to me (obviously)… drifting in the middle of the river I imagined a scene where I had to abandon them in the middle of nowhere and carry on the journey alone (unable to moor or reverse very well), yikes!

Finally, I sort of crashed myself into the opposite bank and Lewis having lost patience with me traversed the lock, scaled the bank and jumped aboard… I had a little cry and we got on with the day.

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After that it was all pumpkins and windmills….

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And now we are in the rowdy centre of a town called March with tin cups of red wine and a good night’s sleep to look forward to… hopefully.

-Ellie (and Amber)

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