Boating in August/September 1982

August/September 1982 

Late summer cruise aboard a restored Lady overcoming wind and depth hazards in low water Springs

The Lady has been a pleasure this trip. She can hardly be blamed for running aground a couple of times in such low water. Neither can she be responsible for running out of fuel. Although we have restored the varnish work on the cabins, she still needs the deck surrounds worked on and the deck covering painted for good looks. Start 777.7nm Finish 786.4nm 8.7nm. Daniel is ten and Debbie is three for the trip this year, as we cruise for a second year in a partially restored Lady. Daniel works the guillotine locks for the first time and we learn that the lower reaches of the fuel tank are not reached by the fuel line, but we have not twigged that it was low water Springs that led to the lack of water in the Erith tidal section and the dependant reaches.

Friday August 27th 1982

Paxton to Godmanchester playground aboard The Lady on a warm sunny evening with a slight breeze

Daniel, Debbie and I on The LadyA warm sunny evening with a slight breeze. We set off downstream after turning around the island. We completely empty our tanks at Buckden and fill up with fresh clean water – this takes half an hour each and show just how much water The Lady holds. Through two locks and we moor easily in Godmanchester opposite the Sand pit about 7.30. Dark at 8.00 and a chilly but dry night. Fish & Chips from The King’s Plaice chippie and a ‘Man from Uncle’ film on the TV. Start 717.4 Finish 727.7 (7.3 nm)


Saturday August 28th 1982

Godmanchester playground to The Waits, St Ives, aboard The Lady on a brilliant warm sunny day

We wake to a brilliant sunny morning and the temperature rises till we discard jumpers by the time we set off at 10.00am. We cruise through the lock at Godmanchester and pass through Huntingdon Bridge. The Bridge Boatyard is deserted and overrun with weeds – its landing stages now in disrepair. The economic recession has taken its toll and boats are no longer hired from Kelly line. At least the ‘sold’ board offers hope for the future. The Bearded owner of the small boatyard on the west side of the common waves a salute, however, as we pass. Flower baskets hauled high on his crane show that somebody is surviving. We pull into Hartford Marina and buy light bulbs for The Lady. The barometers look tempting and we cruise on past the Hunts sailing club. At least what used to be the HSC as motor boats appear to have completely replaced the yachts. After a short stop for lunch moored on the path at Hemingford Grey, we move on to St Ives. Both the Waits and the Town quay are full but we try to moor in the shallows of the Town Quay and think better of it. A return to the Waits finds a boat leaving and we moor centrally and go off swimming at St Ivo pool. We all have a good time and return tired to a day that is still fine but cool. Daniel and I go shopping and end up buying a beautiful barometer from the Jewellers. The most expensive at £29.75 it now means something else to report. Start 724.7 Finish


Sunday August 29th 1982

The Waits, St Ives, to The Cutter, Ely, aboard The Lady in little water on a very windy day

Diana, Debbie and Daniel on Lady MartinaA chilly morning but The Lady renders little condensation compared with her fibreglass-cabined daughters and granddaughters. A good central position on Waits Quay soon attracts the sunshine and the boat warms up. After a short trip to the Newsagent we soon set off at 9.00am through St Ives picturesque old bridge to St Ives Lock. We soon notice how windy it has become and the barometer has swung down from a fair 1015 to a change 1010 as a weak anticyclone looks set to move off westwards. We cruise steadily through St Ives lock, past the Ferry Boat Inn at Holywell, the Pike and Eel at Overcote and approach Brownshill Lock where the lockkeeper, ‘Mrs Brownshill Staunch’ and daughter Catherine are waiting. A very tricky following wind makes short work of our composure and that of the two boats following. Downstream in the tidal section it’s an extremely low tide and we are cautioned to stay in the central channel. A diversion to West View Marina in Earith proves futile as we run aground in the channel to Quiet Waters. We push on to Hermitage Lock stranded in low waters with landing stages inoperative. The very slight level change means that we are quickly through and I turn The Lady into the boatyard at Hermitage. Here at last it is in good condition and active after many years of disuse. We moor in high wind and exchange two gas cylinders and fill with water. Negotiating the Old West in a high wind is a demanding pastime and Diana loses her sunhat half way through! The weather remains fine, however as the barometer slips back …. We fail to retrieve the sunhat and find that The Lady is firmly aground with an onshore breeze. The Old West River is the lowest we have seen it. Eventually we are free and make Ely before dark. We tie up The Lady at The Cutter Inn and enter for a double Jumbo sausage peas and chips each for £1.65. Start   Finish 751.6


Monday August 30th 1982

Ely to The Pike and Eel, aboard The Lady with fuel shortage problems and low water levels overcome

A warmer but more cloudy morning after a very quiet night. There is one advantage at least in avoiding the warm sultry evenings of July! A Bank Holiday is not very welcome with the shops closed and no bank open to restore our money supply. After much indecision we choose to return across the Old West for St Ives market rather than stay put. The television reception for the critical phase of the Third Test Match against the Pakistanis was a factor in this decision. Disaster strikes as The Lady’s Perkins Diesel engine races and then stops dead and refuses to start. I check the engine and manual but am no Diesel expert. Daniel & I trek two miles along a fed drove to Aldreth where we find a phone and ask Mt Lovey of Lovey’s Marine for assistance. This is the revamped marina at The Hermitage Lock from which we are only two bridges away. His colleague from Twenty Pence marina arrives within half an hour and drives us back down the drove to The Lady. From the symptoms, fuel shortage is diagnosed and two gallons of diesel are poured into The Lady’s tank. It seems the fuel left which shows on the dip stick is not available and reserved for collecting water etc. To remove the air from the system is a long process of pipe bleeding and disconnection. I resolve to get The Lady a fuel gauge and water gauge but at least I now have a calibrated dip stick. The engineer runs the Twenty Pence Marina. Both this and Hermitage Marina are owned by Lovey. He hires out day boats from Twenty Pence and the season ends about now with the school holidays. It has been a very bad year all round with hirings at a low level. In fading light and thundery showers we make our way back from Earith. The levels in The Old West and tidal sections are the lowest imaginable and lock keepers advise us to stick to the centre channel. A queue below Brownshill Staunch in high wind and low tide delays our passage so that once through we gratefully moor at The Pike and Eel Inn. Whilst Daniel watches Airport ’75 on the TV, we have an expensive but nice meal in the Restaurant and a bottle of Sancerre ’79 rose. Start 751.6 Finish 767.4  15.8nm

Tuesday August 31st 1982

Pike and Eel to Huntingdon Riverside Park, aboard The Lady on a sunny day with clear sky

Daniel on The LadyWe awake to a fine morning. The sun is shining from a clear blue sky and the Barometer has risen from a Change 1007 to a Fair 1011. From our mooring on the Island at the Pike and Eel we fish and catch 6 small dace a nice 3/4lb roach and a largish eel! We cruise on from 10.00am and lock through St Ives Lock to moor at The Waits Quay. At last we replenish our supplies of cash at the Bank and go shopping in St Ives. After a Kentuckian takeaway selection of burghers we rest and then go off to St Ivo for another swimming session. We leave St Ives via LH Jones marina where we look in vain for another wheel for The Lady. They seem to have run down their stocks on last year. After negotiating Hemingford and Houghton locks we moor in Huntingdon at the new riverside park and moorings. We retire to TV and our berths with the Barometer having risen to a Fair 1013mb. There is a full moon. Start 767.4nm Finish 777.7nm  10.3nm


Wednesday September 1st 1982

Huntingdon Riverside Park home via Brampton Marina, aboard The Lady on dull grey day starting with drizzle and then brightening

A dull grey morning. A drizzle starts in time for our shopping trip to Huntingdon Town Centre. We wrap in waterproofs sweaters and boots and have a good time trying to shop without spending money. A twin detachable speaker portable Hi Fi looks just the job for the Lady but I am persuaded to wait. The cruise home takes place against brightening weather and Daniel works his first guillotine locks at Brampton and Offord. We stop by Brampton Marina and look around an increasingly attractive chandlery but only buy ice creams and fill up with a tank of water.