Monthly Archives: September 2015

Fox Trot

Over the years, James, John and The Engineer have done an awful lot of work on Friendly Fox. But the time had come for it to be sold, and its owner didn’t have the time to move it to brokerage at Hartford Marina near Huntiingdon. So James and I spent last Saturday evening and Sunday taking the Fox out to Hartford, the same journey that the Duck did back in 2013. (That was an interesting trip because the guy who nearly bought it had removed the old portapotti and sold the porcelain one he’d bought to replace it!).

We set off at 7pm on Saturday evening and stopped off on the GOBA moorings near Bottisham Lock. The Pippins very kindly invited us for dinner with them, which was very welcome! They also loaned us a couple of mugs and some teabags because I’d made the terrible mistake of forgetting to bring any!

In fact there wasn’t any cooking utensils either. Thankfully there was a kettle and a frying pan, but I had to use a spanner to turn the bacon!

Sunday dawned gloriously sunny and it stayed nice all day. I was glad that I’d accidentally brought suncream and a hat! The Old West went on for too long as usual, and we missed getting to Hermitage before the lock keeper’s lunch break by 5 minutes!

No seals at Earith this time, sadly, we enjoyed the trip along through St Ives and Hemingford Grey, arriving at Hartford just gone six pm. The boat’s not up on Hartford’s brokerage website yet but it soon will be. If you’re interested, Friendly Fox was built in 1993 at Fox’s in March as a hire boat, is 41ft long, and the bedroom and bathroom have been refurbished.

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Making the Denver-Salter’s Lode Crossing

A while back we were asked to write a little bit about the tidal crossing between Salter’s Lode and Denver Sluice, for Fox Narrowboats, the marina and hireboat company based in March.

James Salters

Making the crossing on Lucky Duck back in 2008!

The Salters Lode to Denver passage, along the tidal Great Ouse, may sound daunting but with the right preparation and precautions, should be straightforward and safe.


Call ahead to check locking times as these change with the tides. The lock keeper at Salter’s Lode is Paul and he can be reached at 01366 382292. The phone numbers for Denver are 01366 382013 or 01366 382340.

Make sure you have plenty of fuel.

Arrive in plenty of time, at least an hour before you are due through the lock. There are two reasons for this, to make sure you don’t miss the tide and so that you have time to speak to the lock keeper.

It’s always a good idea to chat to the lock keeper – he or she can talk you through the crossing, as well as let you know about the conditions which may affect you on the day.

If you have time, a walk along the bank to familiarise yourself with the landmarks will make the crossing easier. If you have time have a look at the river at low water, so you can see where the sandbanks are. Additionally, check the Google Earth picture of the area, which at the time of writing showed the river at low water.

Get your anchor ready. Position it somewhere you can easily drop it overboard, and make sure it’s attached securely to the boat!

The Crossing

All crew members should wear a lifejacket. The water is deep and fast flowing.

Take care with pets and young children. It may be best to keep them inside.

Don’t be afraid to use plenty of power to make the tight turn into or out of Salter’s Lode, especially if you’re turning against the direction of the current. Be aware of the current direction and how it will affect your boat.

Look out for the sandbank marker (cross on a pole) outside Salter’s Lode. Don’t be tempted to cut the corner!

Once in the lock, follow the lock keeper’s instructions carefully.

Boats longer than 61ft are a special case and can only go through the Salter’s Lode lock on the level tide (gates open both ends), and have to wait for the lock at the other end to be ready, either on the tyre wall when coming into Salter’s or the pontoons coming into Denver.

This post first appeared on the Fox Narrowboats Blog.

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Bantam IV at Angel Canal Festival

After the Little Venice Cavalcade, the biggest canal festival in London is the Angel Canal Festival, held in and around City Road Basin, just the other end of the Islington Tunnel from the Canal Museum. So naturally, the museum wanted the tug to be there!

It was a fantastically sunny day, and a very successful and popular event, with what seemed like thousands of people enjoying the canal in the sunshine. Stalls lined the canal, and the surrounding roads, and there was lots going on in City Road Basin, with sailing, canoeing and pedalos.

We loaded up the tug at the museum in the morning and headed through the tunnel and down City Road Lock, which was entirely manned by volunteers, meaning we didn’t need to step off the tug! We tied up Bantam IV just down from the Canal Museum stall. Several times during the day, we took it our for a play in the basin, doing figures of eight and loop the loops, which definitely brought smiles to people’s faces as well as promoting the museum. In between, we wandered about the festival and helped on the museum’s stall, or stood by the tug to answer questions about it.

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Summer Celebrations

Our neighbours got married a the weekend before last and James was the skipper of their wedding party’s trip out to the reception on Georgina. Some other boater neighbours and I decorated their boat so that they’d all see it as they passed. We strung up coloured bunting, made a willow arch, and painted two crossed oars with their initials as well as a life ring saying “Just Married”! It was a very happy occasion, with beautiful weather. We were invited to the evening reception, which as fantastic, with great food, atmosphere and music. Congratulations Nick and Beckee!

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April Dreamer bedecked in bunting and willow

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The happy couple

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From the other side

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The wedding cheese “cake”

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A festive evening

Then, on the bank holiday weekend, we went to Exeter to help my mum move in to her new house. A lot of work, shifting boxes, unpacking, and numerous trips to the tip later, the house is starting to look like a home. On the way back we stopped in for a few hours at Alvecote Historic Boat Festival, and although we couldn’t stay long it was great to catch up with people.

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New house

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