CROSS­ING THE WASH

Canal Boat - - Tidal Cruising -

The Thames trip gave us the taste for tidal travel and it wasn’t long be­fore we were plan­ning an even big­ger voy­age. We used to keep our boat on the Mid­dle Level and faced an­nual jour­neys to and from the canal sys­tem via the River Nene.

Much as we loved the Nene, the no­tion of tak­ing a short cut across The Wash had al­ways been tempting so, the year af­ter do­ing the Tide­way, we de­cided to try it.

This is a much big­ger trip. You leave on an ebbing tide, get out into The Wash and come in on the other side on the next in­com­ing tide – with a stop on a sand­bank mid­way to while away a bit of time while the tides change.

The Wash is a dodgy place, too, with ever shift­ing sand­banks, strange cur­rents, tricky chan­nels and ex­posed to wind and weather that can turn it from millpond to mael­strom. That’s why, un­less you are a highly ex­pe­ri­enced sea boater or plain daft, you’ll hire a pi­lot. Our man, and a pop­u­lar choice among nar­row­boaters, was Daryl Hill.

We were head­ing from Wis­bech on the River Nene to Bos­ton, gate­way to the River Witham. It’s pos­si­ble to leave from the Great Ouse at Den­ver but that’s a trick­ier run out into The Wash so Daryl prefers the ar­row-straight Nene. You can come from Bos­ton to ei­ther des­ti­na­tion.

Good weather is es­sen­tial. Wind from the north or east makes pas­sage too rough and the weather is fickle out there so a booked trip can be can­celled at short no­tice.

Daryl likes to take two boats or even a small con­voy, for safety rea­sons, so we had a companion nar­row­boater: An­thony on nb FishEa­gle who, it turned out, had done the Bris­tol to Sharp­ness cross­ing and pre­vi­ously owned a sea boat.

We had ac­tu­ally done the first leg of the tidal Nene the day be­fore, from Peter­bor­ough where it be­gins at Dog in a Dou­blet lock to Wis­bech Yacht Har­bour where Daryl was to join us next morn­ing.

To Wis­bech was a rel­a­tively easy run along the Nene’s straight course through the flat Fens, but there are some trick­ier sweep­ing bends through the Ge­or­gian river­side of Wis­bech. Un­for­tu­nately, we

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