Summer Pootle 5 (Sunday)

The Ship – Brandon – Littleport

28 miles

A depressingly grey start, but the sun started peeking though. After a fried breakfast, we untied at about 9:30am and began the chug towards Brandon, where we would drop off Harriet and Peter, her partner.

The sun came out after making the turn onto Brandon Creek, and after passing all the moored boats at tickover the river opened out and we were able to make reasonable progress. There was a fair bit of weed about, and we had to chuck back and spin the blade in astern to remove it at times, but it wasn’t too bad.

Once towards Brandon itself, the sun came out properly, and as the river got narrower, the trees more overhanging, and the bends more torturous, I began to think back to when we came up with Lucky Duck last time, and how I thought it would be a challenge bringing a full length boat up this way!

It was interesting, certainly, and the last couple of miles were covered at little more than tickover because of the twisting sinuous bends and overhanging foliage. We had a bit of excitement under the railway bridge just outside Brandon itself- despite being a good two feet away from the central bridge abutment (taking the right hand span) we ran hard aground on a piece of stone or something and tipped alarmingly to one side, before sliding off- and then running aground again! I was able to slew the back end around and so we slid off again, and nothing fell over or was damaged, but it was very exciting, particularly as, at that exact moment, the river (which had been empty completely) suddenly became filled with a cruiser and several people on rowing boats and canoes!

Once at Brandon lock- the limit of navigation for us, being longer than the 42′ long (officially- we got the 48′ Lucky Duck through) lock, we had the fun of winding.

Although the river widens out, and there’s a fair flow from the sluices, it’s not 72 feet wide. I had to take the boat up beyond the lock cut, and then start to turn, pulling the back end into the cut so re would be space.

The first attempt didn’t work- the foreend ran aground and stopped spinning around, and the back end was pushed by the stream. Time for Plan B!

I took the boat alongside the small island between the lock cut and the sluices themselves, and looped the stern line around a convenient EA sign. Now, by going into hard reverse, the line from the stern pulled the back end tight against the end of the island, put the back end right into the lock cut and prevented it being pushed sideways by the flow from the sluices, and helped us turn. We made it with some space to spare- phew!- and got a round of applause from the assembled fishermen and women, and the families out enjoying the sunshine by the lock.

1980-01-06 03.12.45

Once around, it was a simple matter of mooring up on the visitor mooring, next to Kev on WB Avalon, who we know through his blog. We all went into Brandon itself, saw Harriet and her partner onto the train back to Ely and their car, and had ice creams on the way back to the boat. We left at 3:30, and went back downstream towards the main river.

1980-01-06 03.28.38 1980-01-06 03.41.36 1980-01-06 04.19.15 1980-01-06 04.37.40

The GOBA moorings were all full, as we’re the moorings by The Ship and at the pub itself, so we carried on down the main river. Just as it was starting to get dark at about 8pm, we arrived in Littleport and saw a 10 foot long space right on the end of the moorings- so we tied the foreend to the bollards there, with some springs out, and put the back end- aground about 10 feet out from the reeds and lily pads- on a pin and long rope. We felt the boat was safe enough to leave, and so went into town for a lovely meal a our favourite Indian restaurant, the Indian Garden- we’ve never moored in Littleport without visiting it!

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