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Here we say goodbye to Ray and thank him for rescuing us, who in turn thanks us for 'teaching him'(?) and getting him to Torksey. Next job is to check with the lockie, and make sure the time is right for tomorrow. He tells us it is correct, and that he is waiting for two boats that are stuck on the sand bar at Lollipop Corner, apparently grounded, with one going to help the one stuck but getting stuck too. Now they are both waiting for the tide to turn and get them off.
HE feels better, but HE is not off the hook. No. HE is not having the tiller!
As we set off just before six next morning it soon becomes obvious that the tide is going out, and has been for quite a while, but it is not flowing fast, and the whole river is quite serene. Past the moorings at Gainsborough which do not look inviting at all. Glad we didn't have to stay there.
We did not realise that when the lock keeper at Cromwell mentioned 10.30, it wasn't an estimated time, but the actual time to arrive to take advantage of the tide turning. Even though I kept the revs low we made good time, and it is 9.50 when I ring the lock keeper at Keadby from the M180 bridge. “Oh dear.” he says. “You are much to early, the tide isn't due to turn yet.” 'What!', thought I. 'Not again!' So there we were coasting down the river with the boat skewing 'cos we are going so slow trying to waste time. No matter how slow we went, we still get to the lock too early at 10.15.
HE is then allowed to take the tiller, as I am shaking like a jelly and we have to hover. Amazingly there is no tide, it's just still. The lock is letting water out, there's a gravel barge offering sanctuary, but no need, HE is holding the boat perfectly still outside the lock entrance! Can't believe it after the traumatic times we have had before. Wow! A boat comes out of the lock, and it is agony waiting for the light to change. Finally it goes green, and we are able to seek the haven of the lock. (Keadby photographs by Simon Patton.)
Just as we go in I see the next boat coming down the river in the distance. Roped-up and with a smile on my face we wait for it to make its entrance. I see its nose flash past the gates and then it comes for a second go, only to see the whole boat flash past sideways. There's a big bang as the boat hits the gravel barge. Finally it comes nosing into the lock and moors alongside with a sigh of relief from the crew. I just cannot believe the river changes from still to flowing so quick―we only just made it. Then the third boat comes nosing into the lock, and a lot of happy boaters see the lock gates close on the tidal Trent.
So I know the answer to Keadby now! Only go on a tide where it changes at Keadby. (I think it is called a neap tide.) Find out what time that is from the lockie and try to be there on the change. That's the only way I will do it from now on, to save the butterflies and sleepless night before―fingers crossed!
Jan Green. (She Who Must Be Obeyed)