Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Starcross to the Rescue!

As if our earlier adventures with an overheated engine and a fouled prop were not enough, the fun and games for the day were not over when we left Cromwell lock at 18.30. We were headed for Newark, where I'd promised to buy Bernard a meal for giving up his time - and delaying his own trip on his boat Sunshine - to give me the benefit of his experience on the tidal Trent (for which I was now very grateful!)  I was also hoping to visit the Prince Rupert pub, recommended by Sarah on Chertsey, after I'd been a bit disappointed with the town's pubs on the way north.

Somewhere near North Muskham we were hailed by the steerer of a small cruiser, the " Lagan Lass", tied to a tree on the side of the river. He was waving a pair of what appeared to be jump leads and shouting that he was unable to start his engine. Very gingerly I came alongside to see what we could do, but soon realised that the relative positions of our engines and batteries meant that I'd be better off on his inside, so I had to back off and come alongside again, this time on the inside and avoiding the trees.

It turned out that what I'd thought were jump leads was actually a battery charger and although we did connect it up to my inverter we still couldn't get Lagan Lass' engine started. Vic and Royna told us they were based at Newark so we offered them a tow. Getting the two boats tied together in mid-stream proved interesting to say the least and I was glad that my place was safely at the tiller, leaving walking about the gunnels and attaching ropes to others.
Vic and Royna aboard their cruiser Lagan Lass. Royna complained I hadn't given her time to do her hair!
Once we were safely tied together we were able to make good progress up river. The locks on the Trent are very wide and we got through Newark Nether lock easily enough, taking care to put Starcross between Lagan Lass and the lock wall rather than the other way round. Just above the lock the channel takes a sharp left turn and narrows considerably to pass under the railway bridge. I'd been working on the basis that Starcross is just under 7ft wide and that therefore Starcross plus one other would be 14ft. Of course, being a  river cruiser, Lagan Lass was not restricted to the width of the narrow locks of the canal system and was, in fact, nearly 10ft wide - something I realised just in time. Vic praised my "precision steering" through the narrows - fortunately it was by now too dark for him to see the look of relief on my face!

It was getting on for 22.00 by the time we got to Newark wharf but by now we were firm friends with Vic and Royna. We tied up near the Castle Barge floating pub where, just to put the top on the day, the mooring bollards are set into the top of the wall two feet above the roof of the boat - and there's no ladder!  Vic disappeared to the pub and came back with drinks all round, after which he and Royna showed us to their favourite Indian restaurant where we enjoyed a much delayed evening meal. 

If you are reading this Vic and Royna, it was good to meet you (despite the circumstances) and I hope that Lagan Lass has now recovered!

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