Because we're 65ft long we can only get through Salter's Lode Lock when the tide is right. That meant either 5pm Saturday or 5am Sunday, so you can guess which passage we opted for. The regular Lockie was going on his holiday on Sunday morning too, so that was another deciding factor as we'd much rather have his experience and advice than that of a temporary guy, especially as we haven't done this passage before.
We needed to be in the lock at 4.45 when he closed the outer lock gates behind us and we waited until the rising tide reached the lock so that the level was high enough for us to pass over the cill. He then raised the guillotine gate and we eased slowly out to wait beside the tractor tyres while he closed the lock behind us.
This is the mud bank right outside the lock and which will be an obstacle to avoid when we come back in a month.
As the tide started to come in fast there were 3 small bores (tidal waves) which pushed us backwards towards the lock gates. The Lockie told us they can sometimes be quite big and strong but on Saturday we hardly felt or saw them.
Once the Lockie was happy we had enough depth, we nudged the nose of the boat out into the current which turned us round to the right towards Denver Sluice, missing the mud bank.
It only took 5 minutes to get to Denver Sluice and we moored up on the floating pontoon expecting to be there for the night. We were just setting out the table and chairs for an evening in the sun when Denver's Lockie came down to see us. He wasn't supposed to be on duty but had come to open the gate to let some of the blanket weed out on the falling tide.
As he was opening the lock anyway, he let us through and sold us a month's licence for the River Great Ouse and it's tributaries.
Since then we've been moored on the visitor moorings. The weather has taken a turn for the worse as the remnants of Hurricane Bertha batters the country. We've had thunder storms and extremely strong wind. Luckily for us we're moored beside a high grassy bank which is protecting us from the worst of the wind. A hire boat arrived last night and moored on the opposite bank to wait for it's passage through the lock this morning. The wind was too strong and they struggled for half an hour before giving up and missing their passage. This afternoon they tried again and this time were successful.
I'm hoping for clear skies this evening as I want to watch the "super moon". I think it's going to be too windy to set my telescope up but we'll see later.