Aiming for the 12:30 high tide transit through Denver Sluice, we set off from The Ship Inn at the crack of 10:00 without letting the Captain have a pre-cruise sharpener. Somewhat concerned that while the flight-plan programme said it would take us about 1:45 to get to Denver Sluice, the SatLav was confidently predicting an arrival somewhat after 12:30. A nice deep river enabled more throttle than a shallow canal, heading downhill helped, and slowly the SatNav ETA crept down to before 12:30, and we eventually arrived at Denver Sluice about 11:50.
En-route we put up a Little Egret from the reed beds at the side, but didn’t manage to get a picture. We really haven’t seen many of these nice little white herons at all, despite the fact that they are supposedly becoming more common in the UK.
Presenting ourselves at the lockkeeper’s cabin, there were two Environment Agency chaps drinking coffee. “Have you come for the high tide? If so, you’re too late…” which caused a modicum of consternation, until further discussion discovered that (a) the high tide had been a monster one and had been overflowing the sluice big time half an hour earlier, (b) I was carrying a camera, so he’d assumed I’d come to photograph it, and (c) he wasn’t the lockkeeper but a maintenance chappie, and (d) the lockkeeper had the day off. A phone call established that someone else was coming over to lock us through, but not until about 12:45 as the tide was still too high for us to get under the brickwork.
We were eventually launched into the tidal river, with stream running at about 4 knots, not much less than Song & Dance can do flat out, and a nearly 180° degree into Salter’s Lode. Get it wrong, and you can end up on the sandbank, going a long way down river with a real struggle to get back, or just T-boning the Salter’s Lode lock landing at full power. No pressure then.
It all went absolutely perfectly, even that tricky bit where the front of the boat is in the slack water of the Lode, and the back is in the fast running tidal stream, and despite much critical revving of engine and bow thruster and judicious use of reverse, we brushed gently up to the landing before easing into the lock.
The Captain, Cook and Salter’s Lode lockkeeper were most impressed. Little did they know that it was just down to about 10% skill and experience, with 45% luck and 45% sheer blind panic. Think we might avoid these tidal transits in future…
Oh… of the two maintenance guys (who were greasing the sluice while it was raised), one was a European championship grower and shower of Dahlias and Cacti, and the other a major breeder of Scottish Fold pedigree cats, with some 36 of them at home. Must be something in the water.