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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Home in Hull.

By the time we were passing Riverside Quay we were zooming along and if things went badly I had visions of us being washed down to Immingham, Grimsby and beyond Spurn Point. Not in reality as the tide would change and run us back up! Riverside Quay was opened in 1907 and was built out from the bank about 40ft using slag from Middlesborough and then the jetty built of pitch pine timber piles and deck. Travelling electric cranes were fitted and there was a passenger railway station to service the passenger service to the Baltic by the Wilson Line, Zeebrugge by the railway company ships and Rotterdam by the Hull and Netherlands Shipping Co. It was also where the butter boats and vegetable carriers arrived. It was burnt out during an air raid in 1941. It was later replaced but not quite as it was.

As we passed the entrance to Albert Dock I was getting ready to turn the boat into the current without getting swept past the entrance so causing me to lose time getting back up there. I was a little distracted by this RIB that was doing something in the mouth of Albert Lock, but he wisely kept out of the way. Just before turning I once again called up the Marina on Ch80. We both had our fingers crossed that there was still enough water over the cill for us. The lock keeper confirmed that he was happy to take us so round we went.

There was no need to have worried that 'Holderness' wouldn't turn quickly, so much so that we were a little soon. The flags are on the east pier of the outer basin and the land with the trees is Nelson Street. This was reclaimed from the river by the spoil dug out of the Humber Dock that was opened in 1809. The building is the Waterguard Building that was built a hundred years later and was the watch house for the Customs. To the right can be seen the Tidal Barrier that was built in 1980. It is operated 8 or 12 times a year to protect Hull from flooding at Spring tides and tidal surges. Previously basements and cellars and some streets flooded at such times. The blue building is a Premier Inn that has great views of the estuary. Once head to the ebb I angled the bow across the current and reduced speed to be set back and across towards the entrance.

The Deep is on what was called Sammy's Point after the Samuelson's ship yard that was here. A little further to the right was the Earle's ships yard that built hundreds of merchant ships, mainly for Hull's Wilson (later Ellerman Wilson Line), that was the largest privately owned fleet in the world, and  Navy ships before being closed in 1932. The entrance to the River Hull is to the left of the building. The Deep is extremely popular and in school holidays is always very busy. Well worth a visit it is too.

This is the gap we are aiming for. The lock can be seen next to the left pier. The white building is the old lock keepers house and the white plastic hut on stilts is the new one.

We are just starting to siddle into the turn into the basin now. There is the Deep and in the distance can be seen the Siemans Wind Farm factory. The tall structures are actually the towers. They are brought in by ship and assembled here. The blades are manufactured here and then they are all placed on the jack up installation vessels that come alongside, along with the generators. The rotors sweep out a diameter of 154mts, and the towers are about 95 mts tall. They can't be missed on the Hull skyline.

Just as we are making the turn into the piers a blustery shower descends to add to the tension of the occasion. My brother had made it to the piers and was taking pictures so I had better not mess it up. The wind had picked up and formed even bigger waves whipping across the entrance.

The lock gates are open and giving us a good target. The current is pounding onto the east pier meaning we had to put on a fair bit of power to get into the slack water of the basin.

We're in and heading for the lock.

This is my brothers photo as we enter the lock. Lets hope there is definitely enough water over the cill or we will be stopping in this position. You can see the double leafed cast iron swing bridge that formed a bridge 25mts long and 2.5 mts wide. In fact this was a replacement built in 1846 to replace the original. We were in the lock by 1115. This was about 4hrs 40 mins after we had left Keadby, and was actually 3hrs 45 mins after HW Hull. The normal last pen in would have been 3hrs after HW so having no keel, and being flat bottomed does have some advantages.

We are in and it is nice to see the banner welcoming us. As Hull is the UK City of Culture this year we thought that it would be the best time to bring the boat to our city, and now we are here, HOORAY.  Humber Dock was closed in 1968 and was reopened as the marina in 1983. Many people scoffed as nobody thought that anybody would want to come to Hull on a boat, and stay!

The lock has plenty of vertical wires to hang a rope round to keep alongside when the lock is filling. The original gates to Humber Dock were the normal type that we see all the time on the canal system. The marina lock gates are now the rotating sector gates where each gate is like a section of a cylinder. When they are both closed the make the seal. There is no paddle gear to let the water in or out as the gates are each rotated and the seal broken and the water floods in round the sides and the centre. There is usually quite a rush so you need to hang on tightly. They are the same type as those at Portishead when we came down the Severn.

The Marina is quite tightly packed and I wondered whether we would be sent right round the back to the Railway Dock extension, that involved another swing bridge, but we were given a berth among the big boats. Our berth was the free pontoon in the picture on the first line of moorings out of the lock. The warehouse in the distance is the only original one that wasn't demolished. Railway Dock is just the other side of it and was surrounded by similar ones. Hull's first railway station was to the left. Once Paragonm station was opened this was retained as a goods depot for the dock. I think railway Dock was the first dock in the country to be fully serviced by railway, It opened in 1846

Just cleared the lock and starting to swing to go stern into the pontoon. Fortunately the dock wall cuts out the breeze as I didn't fancy getting blown across the bows of all this expensive plastic.

Here we are just slotting in to the berth. Once we got tied up my brother and his dogs came for a visit and some lunch. We also had a visit for a couple of other friends to have a look around. My brother very kindly gave me a lift back to Keadby to pick up our car that saved me over an hour and a half on the train, plus a couple of walks.

When I got back we realised just how tired we were, but we were determined to enjoy our arrival with a night out as a tourists. Mind you, you will have to wait to the next blog to find out what we got up to.


  1. That was the most amazing journey, so happy you made it. Although there wouldn't have been a blog if you hadn't. I can't imagine anyone else able to do this on a narrowboat with out all your experience. Enjoy the time in your home city as you have made these special memories xx

    1. I expect that you are back from London now, and it seems that you haven't caused any major trouble down there. I'm sure you will continue to enjoy the northern canals. Having done the trip on much bigger ships meant I had a bit more confidence, but plenty of folk have done the trip in the past, and it is all a matter of timing really. We are now looking forward to heading up the River Hull in a week or so. Cheers for now, Tony and Helen.

  2. That looked amazing and scary, Tony. But as you say, your experience on big ships makes a helluva difference! Looked like a manky day to be doing it though - although the weather seemed to have improved as you got into the marina.
    Tell you what, mate, I wouldn't be surprised to read soon that you intend to circumnavigate mainland Britain on nb Holderness ... only after the City of Culture revels are over though!

    1. Hi Both, plenty of people have made this trip before and I wish the weather had been better, but it will be a one off for us. Next on the agenda is heading up the river Hull next week. I hope you are still enjoying the weather and the boat is working well.

      Cheers for now, Tony and Helen.

  3. OMG Helen! I have just caught up with the blog and how on earth you and Macy stayed on the boat I don't know! Did you not think of catching the train and meeting Tony there? :)

    1. Hi Ann and Richard, I hope you are enjoying the weather down south. Helen was somewhat apprehensive before we started, but always the thought of something is harder than getting on and doing it. It was fine, and not as rough as going through the centre of London on the Thames with all the traffic. It was a shame about the weather and lack of sun, but I don't think it will be in our annual programme. And, we have to go back yet!
      Cheers for now, Tony and Helen.