So today dawned, warm clear blue skies that the Flotilla had only dreamed about after the gales, rain and being cold for a month and the atmosphere was like a cross between a school outing, an awfully big adventure and The Wacky Races. There were laughs and giggles, swapping of sweets and comparing who had the best lunch box, conflabs and last minute jobs, (some of which could have been done yesterday David when you were lounging around reading the paper about bloody FIFA, but we'll gloss over that.)
Guests had arrived, we had our Boat Sharers Amanda & David, semi fixtures, and Joe & Lesley had Sarah (ex-blogger of Greygal fame) & Andy.
|At the mooring preparing to leave at 09:15 to be in correct positions for the lock opening at 10:00.|
|David trying to remember what he hasn't done.|
|David L (Our Boat Sharer), hugely important crew member today|
|Andy, Lesley (Yarwood) and Amanda|
|Margaret (Seyella) and Sarah (Greygal) who is a helming Supremo.|
|Cool Hand Luke, this is either Fletcher or Floyd, one of them HATES pontoons.|
|Clarence's Sheila & Derek, Sheila is loads of fun and Derek is half French and totally unflappable.|
|My David still not ready, annoying the Teacher and still in his slippers.|
|This was the view of The Stump from our moorings, can you feel how warm it FINALLY was? We all so deserved this amazingly fantastic day.|
Most of the flotilla had attended a briefing by the lock keeper here which had told them of positioning in the lock, sun hats & sunscreen and really just doing what you are told.
Ding went the bell and engines fired up and Clarence reversed out...
|Clarence first out of the blocks.|
|WaL's turn to reverse out, we are to be first in the lock.|
|Yarwood 2nd into the lock with Clarence in the middle of us three in the lock|
So Boston Lock is an odd one, its tidal and I think its unusual because the incoming tide comes up above the river level, now although there is the three gate set up here, only the bottom sea gates were closed, we went into our directed positions, WaL on the left, Yarwood on the right, Clarence in the centre, then behind us three, actually outside the lock were the final two, Seyella and Panacea, these two were the shortest boats in the flotilla.
Now when Dan, (this mornings lockkie), presses the magic button the gates will open, now for non tidal boaters this is another usual thing here, the Lockkie waits for the outgoing tide to drop to be the same height as the river only then he opens the sea gates and the Wacky Racers set off, this is so because there is a two and a half minute window to belt through, miss that and you are out of the race, no appeals the gates shut again even if you are The Queen.
We were there in plenty of time, (I have heard Group Captain mutter something about herding cats this week but we were all there Scrambled on time and in position).
We waited, 10am was the time stated we expected, we waited some more. Now this is another thing about tides, although high and low tides behave, mid tides do what ever they want and today they were late, Dan tried the gate three times and on the fourth they indeed managed to open and away we went.
|On your marks....|
|Sunhat here but no life jacket YET.|
|NB Panacea getting into position|
|Now Seyella too|
Now then, about the pilot, we have booked him, spoken to him plenty of times as there had been weather delays, but who the devil is he and more to the point WHERE is he? Lockkie Dan had no idea who he was at all.....
|David L trying to make his undercarriage comfy.|
|Group Captain off to fetch his boat back to the starting line.|
|My new best friend Darryl the pilot, appeared when no one was looking.|
Rope retrieving and the gates had finally opened a crack.
|Wait for it...|
|GO! Two and a half minus countdown and Clarence is off.|
|We follow on|
|Third position and Yarwood is off|
|COME ON you two at the back HURRY|
Clock ticking but Darryl is cucumber type of calm. Now I have a lot of pictures of this section leaving Boston as it is by far the most interesting. We will talk about Wisbech later....
|Look at that blue sky|
|The Boston Stomp looking magnificent, moments earlier lots of people had waved to us from this bridge, I felt a bit like The Queen|
|Flotilla going around the bend and Yarwood had the deck chairs out.|
|Miss your turn at the lock and .....|
|Pretty fishing boats and then before you have got your sweets out to swap you are going down The Haven and it feels like the open sea after rivers and canals.|
|The Haven, Clarence giving up the lead now for us to take over (with The Pilot)|
So the fun continued, Darryl had a capacious rucksack and inside were all sorts of equipment, radios, a large flask shaped thing which stayed in the bag but looked like a radio beacon or miniature life raft, maybe it stayed in there so as not to put the frighteners on the captains wife, who inwardly started to shake when the conversation turned to "Past incidents" and "Getting out of incidents" I left the bridge at this point and put on the bacon to make the most important part of my instructions..... make tea and bacon rolls, The Boat Sharers insist on Bacon & Fried Egg Rolls, there followed coffee and chocolate biscuits.
|View from my conservatory this morning.|
|Sensible people wore sun hats. This snapped on my phone so excuse the quality|
|Calm flat sea, not terribly blue.|
|Happy captain smothered in sun screen that he complained about|
|You can see a tiny bit here how the current takes you away from where you want to be, the boats make the turn and are wanting to be inline behind us but taken off to their right|
|Lots more water, this patch was bluer|
|Charts, Darryl brought these, all that brown is sandbanks that generally you want to avoid, Darryl said that if one get stranded then we all spend the day there too.|
|Serious chart studying going on here|
|Flotilla doing another turn, all coming nicely around the bend.|
|Me having a bash, I was trusted here due to the lack of trees.... (Thats another story Reader)|
Darryl said that he likes women pilots because in general, if you tell them to head towards point A they do so, then he looked up and I told him to shut his eyes for ten seconds while I got back onto course... But Reader it was hard to concentrate because of the birds flying all over and the Seal Spotting Game was too much distraction, but overall The Pilot was pleased with me, I think.
|See the red bouy on the far right? These are important, you follow one then the other but you mustn't touch, looks easy huh?|
These little chaps arrived on the roof of NB Panacea to the sand bank at lunch time, about eight of them, Darryl and I reckoned they are Juvenile Turnstones HERE But what do you think?
|Lots of excitement here, David L fetching our VIRGIN ladder, that is to say a ladder plank combination that we paid over £100 for when the boat was launched, its never been used, huge excitement.|
|Darryl says we are part of a very small and exclusive club, it really was the best part of the day.|
|Yarwoods painted plank isn't nearly as good as our new ladder, not sure who that is coming down it right now.|
|John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe and George Clooney|
It was estimated that we would have about one hour forty mins here. You have to do this loitering thing as the outgoing tide is too fierce to battle against to get into the channel for Wisbech, our destination, just behind us is the wreck, the time to leave is when that visible section of hull is covered by water. Lunch was needed for those that hadn't had two rolls each and a whole tin of biscuits, Group Captain provided very nice cidre (Thank you Geoff) the three dogs frolicked, swam and then played their own game off shaking water over the crews.
The wind picked up to coincide with the incoming tide, the anchors began to disappear and their chains too under the water, Amanda and I climbed up our fabulous ladder and went inside out of the wind, the water was rising and floated the boats a wee bit, enough to make them turn 90 degrees into the wind and clang together, dangly bits were distributed again and we had a cup of tea at the back.
Part 2 to follow I feel.