Monday 3rd to Sunday 6th September 2009
We started the week at Torksey and with permission stayed slightly longer than the regulation period.
The poor guy behind us thought he was going to stay too when a ‘something wrong’ alarm sounded every time he started his engine. The boat he had been travelling with left him on the bank to sort things out so I went over to see if I could help. A Vetus engine in a trad stern are two things I know little about so I checked the bits I could get at and gave my opinion. The charging system for his engine starting battery was letting him down but he’d got tons of energy left in his battery so I advised him to carry on to Newark where he could get help. A call to RCR told him the same thing so he set off towards the lock in time for the morning tide.

Two things keep coming to mind at this time of the year, tax returns and porthole varnishing. I had put off both for long enough so made a start on the paperwork whilst waiting for varnish to dry. Why I have to declare my non income at this time of life is completely beyond me and why after all these years we haven’t solved the problem of water getting under varnish and turning the wood black is another mystery.

Someone tell me how to put an end to both, please.

I believe this is a special day in the calendar – Merchant Navy Day. If nobody tells me otherwise then I’ll assume it is and remember those thousands of merch’ sailors that lost their lives in the wars.

I have a red duster that lives in the sock drawer, an old tatty one and rather too large for this boat and because we weren’t moving I didn’t bother hanging it on the stern. I don’t remember which ship ‘donated’ it but I like to think it was the Pass of Balmaha our last tanker which, being coastal trade, suffered ripped and mucky flags through frequent visits to the filthiest British, Belgian and French refineries. Oh the good old days.

It’s moving day again, hooray, it’s good to be cruising in the sunshine.
Saxilby is only an hour away and with plenty of mooring spaces we picked a quiet one right at the end furthest from the other boats. Mistake, goods trains run overhead. I thought all the railways round here were defunct but we’ve parked up under the noisiest line in Lincolnshire. No wonder all the boats were down the other end of the moorings, I never learn.

But it hardly mattered because we were out most of the day. Graham (G8LUV) came up from down south with my new HF rig which is about the size of a car radio and can easily be hidden behind a dinette cushion so it shouldn’t bother V when I’m tinkering with it. Not only did we get treated to a new toy but Graham took us to Lincoln to replenish our empty food cupboards.

And there was another treat in store when I was introduced to Birkett’s radio shop on the hill going up to the cathedral. Like a small boy in a sweet shop I had to see everything and sample the goodies. Apologies to Sue because I made her husband miss an appointment.

Another cruising day, this time under grey skies. We reached the end of the Fossdyke at Lincoln and joined the River Witham, hardly any wider than the Fossy and nothing noticeable in way of flow. If this had been the River Soar I would have expected yesterday’s heavy rain to put the river into ‘red’ but this water was terribly well behaved.
I’m glad we did Lincoln yesterday on foot because it can be a little bewildering coming into the wide open marina in town, or Brayford Pool as it’s called, and seeing no obvious way out. There’s a narrow channel called the Glory Hole that passes under an old timber building, built on a stone bridge over the navigation.

From here we pass between shops, under ornate bridges and through crowds of onlookers all wanting a smile and a wave.
V with her sharp eyes spotted The Witch & Wardrobe, the pub featured on the Nicholson’s Waterways Guide No.6.

The well known Stamp End district follows with its Napier Turbochargers (Siemens) and a guillotine gated lock.

Lincoln is an attractive place, both from the streets and the waterways, rather busy in terms of teens and twenties but not very well represented by the old fogies of which I might be considered a new member.

We couldn’t do the place justice on this visit so we’ve pencilled in a stop next time through to check out the history and perhaps make one last visit to Birketts. The owner, by the way, has plenty to interest those interested in WW2 aeroplane electrics, including aircraft landing lights, airspeed indicators, radar and a variety of dial indicators. His shop would make an ideal meeting place for RAF electronics types, particularly those who served their time on Lincolnshire airbases between the 1940s and 1970s.

Enough of Lincoln, we left the glitter behind us and cruised on under darkening skies passing the odd bit of art stuck on the river bank to amuse travellers.
A couple of rusty steel cows, a stone flame pointing at the sky and these giant corn stalks. I presume it tells us what is growing in the fields because we haven’t a hope of seeing over the high river banks.

After a half day’s cruising we arrived at Bardney Lock with its floating pontoons and electricity.

I tried my one and only BW card, the one I last used on a pump-out at Long Sandall, but it came up empty on the display. Ne’er mind, there’s big gaps between boats so we can run our engine without upsetting anyone.

They seem a friendly lot down here, a community of boats, mostly plastic, locked behind steel fences, many of their owners were out on the grass nattering as we walked down to the services building.
As sometimes happens they were waiting for a tanker to empty the holding tank so we had to keep our legs crossed until Boston.
Don’t let the cats in flower baskets put you off your guard, they aren’t the only animals belonging to the house next to the lock.
bardney lock

As I stopped to stroke the cat I was aware of something creeping up behind the fence on my left. Then came a long, deep growl which got my attention, this was followed by what I can only describe as a menacing doggy grin – hundreds of long white pointed teeth inches away from my hand.

Thursday was a nothing day. It rained and blew so we kept our heads down. I was torn between paperwork and the wireless, needless to say which one made me smile.

Friday looked better so we hit the road again and with the wind behind us completed the last leg of our journey to Boston.

We drifted right down to the last lock on the non tidal river, past BW and marina moorings looking for the services, in particular a loo dump. Nothing, no signpost, no likely buildings and no one to ask so we cruised back up to the moorings and reversed to the bank alongside a twenty foot pontoon.

If it hadn’t been for another narrowboat on these moorings we would have panicked because we stuck right out into the channel, almost touching boats on the other side. Feeling very uncomfortable about our ‘loose end’ dangling so far out from the bank and having no way of securing the pointy end to stop us swinging with every boat that passed I dug out the Christmas fairy lights and hung them in the cratch as a visible warning to those cruising after dark. As it happened high tide brought boats from the Wash well after dusk and I slept a little easier knowing our bow was illuminated by 120 flickering LEDs. It didn’t help my nerves having a couple of trip boats squeeze past us as they ran up and down the river running drinking and shouting competitions.

But we were still afloat in the morning.

Saturday’s weather was good, windy but sunny-ish so we wandered down town and practised our foreign languages in the marketplace. Why they are attracted to Boston I’ve no idea but they are, and in no small number.

To be fair to V she offered to go up St Botolph’s Church tower on her own so I couldn’t complain when my legs gave up before we reached the top. And even the top was only two thirds of the way up so it looked bad when I halted a second time and then a third time.

Once onto the viewing gallery one’s breathing slowed enough to give a toothy grin, a fair impression of the Bardney Lock dog.

The views were amazing, the market place, the windmill, our moorings and the river snaking its way down to the sea all laid out before us. Well worth the agony of that climb I’d say. Well worth the three quid to get onto the stairs in the first place. The lady in the shop opens the door with one of those huge iron keys that only castles and churches have and once you are on the stairs she shuts and locks the door again. There’s only one way to go and that’s up.

The climb back down to earth was a pleasure, no problems there but a developing cough was giving me jip so we popped into Boots the Chemist for something in a bottle.

You’d have thought I was a hospital case by the questions I got when I asked the medicines lady for the right stuff to stop me coughing. I was quite red and my pulse rate was high by the time she told me she needed to consult with a specialist before giving me what I wanted. Back she came with more questions and then finally she took pity and told me that out of three types of cough mixture she would only let me have one.
V said it was my age and something to do with where the pain was. A likely heart attack victim she thought. Tsccch, I’ve just climbed Boston Stump, surely that says I’m fit for cough medicine.

I suppose I should have sat on the park bench with the others before taking a swig from my bottle in its brown paper bag but I couldn’t wait and once out of the chemists the top was off and two tablespoonfuls were on their way down.

Feeling better we walked across town to the windmill. I turned down the chance of climbing seven floors to the top and settled for coffee and carrot cake on the first floor.

The Maud Foster windmill was built in 1819 for the Reckitt family, famous for Blue laundry whitener, Brasso and Dettol, so the booklet says. It cost £1826 10s 6d to build, was Boston’s 15th and last windmill and worked until 1948. It’s now back in working order, grinding flour for a living.

Generally speaking, in the words of someone else, Boston hasn’t much to recommend it. The old bits that could have been preserved alongside the river look shabby with numerous broken windows. In contrast St Botolph’s Church, or Boston Stump as it is known, is quite attractive and seems well used and integrated into the community. The market place isn’t particularly small and though useful for vegetables and stationery lacks variety.

Uninspiring and could do better would be my summary.

However, the water side of things has much to offer. There are dozens of finger pontoon moorings, electricity posts and a relaxed attitude from the BW office.

We found the loo dump eventually, it’s hidden from view if you come on a boat but in your face if you’re walking from town. We’ll have to moor on the lock landing to do the necessary and hope we don’t get in anyone’s way.

The rule round here seems to be to pick an empty mooring on arrival, connect a shore line, enjoy the view up and down the river and when its time to leave visit the lockkeeper and own up to electricity and the nights spent in town.
Here’s our view of town.

ASDA is ten minutes walk whilst town with shops, banks and market (we only saw Saturday’s) about fifteen minutes away.

Sunday was a repeat of Saturday without the going out. V did the ASDA bit while I tinkered with the aerials and radio. There’s more work to be done on the power cables before I can fire this thing up in full power and if the weather holds then I’ll stick my head down the engine hole and waggle a couple of wires over the battery terminals to crack that problem.

Yesterday, using a double whip dipole at twenty feet I managed to contact Leicester but not Shropshire but that was during the worst part of the day on 80 metres. On Friday evening I managed to grab the attention of a German station but he didn’t want Europeans, I know just how he feels.