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Sunday, 11 June 2017

Tramping down the Trent.

Well finally we had to make the decision as to whether to head down the Trent or stay put. The weather had deteriorated from what we had been hoping for. The crucial thing was that the wind direction would not go round to an easterly or increase too much. An easterly wind would mean that it would blow against the ebbing tide and so cause a very choppy sea and overfalls, and obviously we didn't want too much wind from any direction! There was no real rain forecast but it wouldn't be a sun filled passage. However drizzle had already started when I poked my head out just after 0500, and it didn't really go away for very long. It was quite warm so I didn't really mind a bit of rain. The only problem was whether heavy rain would obscure the next buoy in the channel as we have no compass.

We made up our minds to go. There were three other narrow boats going up river, they took the first lock but we came through the road bridge with them and waited between it and the lock. As you can see Helen wasn't exactly bubbling over with excitement. I was just wanting to get going and see how it all panned out. You have to love somebody who trusts you so much.

We were soon out of the lock and heading the wrong way! HW at Keadby was about 0830 and we left just after 0630 so there was the best part of two hours until the tide started to help us. The lock keeper told me that he couldn't remember a narrow boat turning left, only cruisers! In my calculations for timings I had had to make an educated guess as to what speed we would make against the flood tide and now we were out and heading it to the current we would see how close I had got!

As the current is usualy stronger in the deeper parts, round the outsides of bends I headed straight over to the opposite bank to go over the ness (shallow bit on the inside of the bends) On a top spring tide the tide comes in at 1ft in 8 minutes, so as our draft is only 2ft there would be plenty of water for us. As I got my eye in I got ever closer to the bank and you could see the increase in the speed. As we 'sped' up the reach we saw a cruiser coming round Amcotts Hook bend. It was the only boat we saw.

After rounding Amcotts you come up to Grove Wharf. This is the largest 'port' on the Trent and can accommodate up to 8 vessels at a time. There were two alongside today. One was loading long steels and the other seemed to be waiting to sail in ballast. Maybe we would see them coming up from astern. My timings had us arriving here after an hour. It is only two miles, and we were just slightly ahead of schedule. I have seen 5 ships arriving and four sailing from here all at the same time.

Just past Grove Wharf is a much smaller concern called Neal House Wharf. There used to be a silo here but it was taken down a long time ago. Half a mile afterwards is Flixborough Wharf. It is linked with the steel plant at Scunthorpe by a private railway, or was anyway. It is the site of the massive explosion in 1974 when the Nypro Plant blew up. The factory was built to make fertilizer from coal by products but was now making a chemical for the production of nylon. A leak in the process resulted in a massive explosion at 1653 on 1st June 1974. The plant was all but leveled and 28 lost their lives, and 36 were seriously injured. The explosion was felt as far away as Hull. I worked with a pilot who was just passing on a ship when the explosion occurred. Luckily he had just bent down to below the bridge window so was missed by the shattered glass and managed to get the ship alongside despite the shattered bridge. The inquiry brought big changes to Health and Safety at Work.

To maintain the speed we had set the revs at 2200 and this caused a lot of vibration and noise that upset Macy the Cat for a while. She didn't know where to go for the best! She sat on the work top for a while to be close to us on the back end, but she soon settled down and just went to sleep on her bed. The engine never missed a beat and the temperature held steady at around 170deg.

After Flixborough there is a long straight called Mere Dyke. By now the tide was starting to slack off, and by snugging into the reeds on the east side we made very good speed. The next and last wharf on the Trent is at Burton Stather. This was built and operated by Waddington's who ran a very large canal and river transport company from Goole and the South Yorkshire Navigation. In WWII a concrete and wooden ramp was built to test and practice with the 'water proof' tanks that would be used at D Day. They had a special propulsion when in water and a 'skirt' that was supposed to make them waterproof. On my calculations we were supposed to be at Burton Stather after 2 hours and we were on schedule. That was 5 miles in two hours. The tide was definitely turning though.

The high ground of Burton Stather and Alkborough fades away as the Trent comes towards the Humber. This is Garthorpe Reach and there are two sets of electrical wires cross over. This pylon looks to have plenty of cables but is actually the wires from two pylons.

The flat land to the right has been taken over as a natural flood defence. Instead of trying to stop the water flooding the ings they have opened it up so that water can flood at surge times and slow the flow further down the Humber. It was become a very good habitat for birds etc. On the other bank is the start of the RSPB Reserve of Blacktoft Sands. Here we are heading out of the Trent as it bends round to merge with the Ouse that is coming in from the left. The wide open Humber is ahead. If you look closely you can see some wooden piles that mark a training wall running to the left. This channels the water out into the Humber. Entering on a flood tide you have to be careful not to be set down on to it. On top flood tides the Tack Hammer Flats to the right are covered and just the odd light beacon sticks up. Several times barges have been left stranded high and dry as they had no idea where the real bank was!

That is it, we have no traveled the full length of the navigable Trent. This is the 'new' Apex light and past this we were finally on the Humber.

I will write about our trip down the Humber in another blog as I don't want them to be too long. We hadn't taken any sea sick remedies so we were hoping we wouldn't need them.

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