A slow boat to... Bos­ton

They’d reached Lin­coln the year be­fore, so de­cided to be even braver and set their sights on Bos­ton, and there was plenty to see and en­joy en route


We de­cided we would like to have an ad­ven­ture hol­i­day and spend a week go­ing to Bos­ton; no, not Mas­sachusetts, but the Bos­ton in Lin­colnshire where the orig­i­nal Pil­grim Fa­thers sailed from to es­cape re­li­gious per­se­cu­tion in the 17th Cen­tury.

Af­ter a very en­joy­able trip to Lin­coln in Au­gust 2014, we thought it would be a great idea to be even braver on an­other trip and con­tinue for a few more days to reach Bos­ton.

Our boat is an age­ing Vik­ing 26, cen­tre cock­pit river/canal cruiser called Grace Dar­ling. As our ear­lier boats were seago­ing types, Martin was very con­vinced that this present boat, so aptly named and moored so far away from the coast, should have her hull wet by sea wa­ter.

Start­ing from our home base at Shard­low Ma­rina in Au­gust last year, we sailed on the River Trent through the twin locks at Saw­ley to Trent Lock Junc­tion and con­tin­ued to Bee­ston Canal, which op­er­ates through the cen­tre of Not­ting­ham.

Trav­el­ling through busy city cen­tres is fas­ci­nat­ing – many worlds ex­ist side by side. Our leisurely four miles an hour ride gave us plenty of time to gaze at traf­fic rush­ing along busy mo­tor­ways and peo­ple sit­ting around at the canal­side cafés gaz­ing at us.

Ware­houses, old fac­to­ries, bridges, moored boats and some back gar­dens add to the va­ri­ety of things to see as you gen­tly make your way through, to­wards the sub­urbs with lots more in­ter­est­ing back gar­dens and peo­ple walk­ing along tow­paths.

The canal locks back into the river at Trent Bridge and an ex­cel­lent view of Not­ting­ham For­est foot­ball ground can be seen. Back on the river we made our way along past Holme Pier­re­pont to the quiet and se­cluded Stoke Lock where we moored for the night. The locks af­ter Not­ting­ham are built for seago­ing ships, and we would call up the next lock-keeper on the short wave ra­dio to in­form him or her that we were com­ing and give our ETA, and they would tell us when the lock would be opened for us.

The next day we set off and took four and a half hours to get to Ne­wark. This was the place to shop for pro­vi­sions and fuel, as well as hav­ing a look round the an­cient cas­tle where King John died, af­ter hav­ing lost the Crown Jew­els – in The Wash!

From Ne­wark, we con­tin­ued along the river to the largest river lock on the Trent, Cromwell Lock. Af­ter this point, the river be­comes tidal, mean­ing that nav­i­ga­tion charts are nec­es­sary to guide a ves­sel through sandbanks and other hazards a boat can come across at low tide. More seago­ing and larger craft now pre­dom­i­nate and there is ev­i­dence of past

gravel dig­ging in­dus­try on the river banks.

We aimed for Tork­sey, a vil­lage at the junc­tion of the River Trent and Foss­dyke & Witham Nav­i­ga­tion. Hav­ing trav­elled down the Trent, and tied up on an avail­able pon­toon un­til the ris­ing tidal wa­ter was deep enough to al­low us to pass over the cill into Tork­sey Lock and on to the Foss­dyke Canal, we then stopped for the night be­fore pro­ceed­ing down this Ro­man wa­ter­way to­wards Lin­coln the next day.

At Lin­coln, we took on more pro­vi­sions and our son, Ju­lian, joined us for a few days for the rest of the jour­ney to Bos­ton. Since we would be re­turn­ing the same way, we de­cided to ex­plore Lin­coln on our re­turn jour­ney.

Af­ter a night’s stay at the de­light­ful town ma­rina at Bray­ford Pool, we pro­ceeded through the Mur­der Hole (a low bridge with a me­dieval house above) and on to the fore­bod­ing Stamp End Lock – which was our first ex­pe­ri­ence of an elec­tric guil­lo­tine lock. Hav­ing com­pleted the Foss­dyke Canal, this next sec­tion is the River Witham, which even­tu­ally leads to the sea at The Wash.

An un­ex­pected haz­ard pre­sented it­self at Bard­ney, where we came across some very dense weed in the canal, which ham­pered our way and caused a real prob­lem for the en­gine, threat­en­ing to block the cooling wa­ter in­take.

We met a few other boat own­ers who told us that this was a sea­sonal prob­lem for boats, some­times you had to turn back. This wor­ried us as Ju­lian had to catch a train at Bos­ton. How­ever, we saw a nar­row clear­ing in the weeds and de­cided to pro­ceed with cau­tion. For­tu­nately, the weed even­tu­ally started to be­come clearer as we con­tin­ued.

The scenery be­came more ru­ral, flat and fen-like as we passed Tat­ter­shall Bridge where we had an­other peace­ful overnight stay.

The next day we had Bos­ton in our sights and, af­ter a very re­lax­ing cruise, we reached our des­ti­na­tion. On our ap­proach, the fa­mous ‘stump’ of St Bo­tolph’s Church, which is a nav­i­ga­tional aid and very dis­tinc­tive lantern tower of the fa­mous par­ish church, could be seen for miles around.

The ma­rina at Bos­ton was cen­trally placed with its pon­toons giv­ing us easy ac­cess to the town and all its ameni­ties.

Sun­day morn­ing was spent with us at­tend­ing the fa­mous par­ish church with the ‘stump’ for sung Eucharist. It is re­puted to be the largest par­ish church in Eng­land, and en­ter­ing it you are over­whelmed by its size and open­ness. It is larger than some cathe­drals in Eng­land.

While ex­plor­ing the town, we saw the Grand Sluice, a lock that lets the river nav­i­ga­tion through to the river es­tu­ary and into The Wash and on to the sea. The lock is only opened at two hours be­fore high wa­ter and two hours af­ter

high wa­ter when the es­tu­ary level and the river level are the same so that the wa­ter in the river nav­i­ga­tion is not lost.

Ju­lian had to leave us for the train back to Thame so we de­cided to spend the rest of the day re­lax­ing be­fore start­ing the re­turn jour­ney next day.

We re­traced our steps and, on ar­riv­ing at Bard­ney, we no­ticed that a weed re­moval van was parked on the river­side, and the river it­self seemed much clearer of its weed. An­other day`s jour­ney took us back to Lin­coln, where we met our sec­ond pas­sen­ger/crew, our niece, Ann. We were able to spend a full day ex­plor­ing and con­cen­trated on vis­it­ing the newly re­fur­bished cas­tle. As it was the 800th an­niver­sary of the sign­ing of the Magna Carta in 2015, we made the most of the op­por­tu­nity, see­ing the ex­hi­bi­tion of Lin­coln’s own copy as well as other im­por­tant his­toric doc­u­ments housed in the old prison within the cas­tle grounds. We ex­plored the his­toric area by the river­side, the Glory Hole or Mur­der Hole – so called be­cause of the grue­some in­ci­dents which hap­pened at this spot in the Mid­dle Ages. The next day we con­tin­ued on our re­turn jour­ney via Tork­sey Lock, on to the River Trent and to Cromwell Lock and even­tu­ally to the fa­mil­iar Trent Lock at Long Ea­ton and home to Shard­low.

In all we trav­elled for 50 hours and cov­ered 225 lock miles. We all enjoyed the mainly good weather, in­ter­est­ing, re­lax­ing and vary­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, and felt a sense of achieve­ment at hav­ing com­pleted what we set off to do.

At Tat­ter­shall on the River Witham

The his­toric Mur­der Hole in Lin­coln


Wait­ing pa­tiently at Cromwell Lock

Ade­light­ful­stay­atBray­fordPool inthe­cen­tre­ofLin­coln


Fac­ing the chal­lenge of Stamp End Lock

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