57. Navigating the Tidal River Trent on my narrowboat

So I’m in Cromwell Lock now, there’s two
locks here. It’s a bit of a staircase and then it’s the tidal part of
the River Trent as well as five, six, seven hundred tonne
boats. Let’s just say I’m a little bit nervous and if I can follow the
charts everything will be fine. {incomprehensible shouting} However, before we even got out of the lock, the
paddles had to go into emergency shut down. The bow rope of the neighbouring
narrowboat had got caught on the ladder. {Tension Music} Nothing the lock-keeper hadn’t seen or
done before by the looks of it. The journey is to take me just under
five hours and as its tidal, requires a very different approach.
I’ll leave Cromwell Lock and head north along a rather windy (curvy) section of the
river just to the east of Sutton on Trent. I’ll pass the five distinct towers
of High Marnham Power Station and then after a final s-bend of navigation,
I’ll leave the River Trent and moor up just before Torksey Lock. The weir at Cromwell is the largest on
the River Trent and the huge lock is manned from 8:00 in the morning till
9:00 at night during the summer season. There are plenty of high and low mooring
spots available here but when I arrived, the only spot left was high.
This made Molly getting up on the roof of Alice and then on to the bank,
an interesting experience! Before I attempted to navigate this part of the
river it was important I had an anchor. Ensure it was to hand and obviously
ensure it’s actually connected to the boat. Lifejackets are required for all
crew. I won’t be traveling in the dark but if I did, I would have to have fully
installed red, green and white navigation lights. {Music} So far all things are going well. I’m
pleased to have the charts because there’s a little bit deceiving. You think
I’ll go on that bit. You look at the chart and it says no stay over to one
side. You stay over to the one side and you
get close and you realise actually, the bit you were going to go along, it’s
really shallow. There’s loads and loads of pointers,
buildings to look out for in the distance that you can line up to as well.
So very, very well worth purchasing. I’ve got one other narrowboat following me and
I think he’s basically following the wake
because when you go along on a boat it sort of creates a, like a clear path
almost. I think he’s just following that. I purchased the charts from the Cromwell
lock-keeper and they were £10.00 Silt builds up on the inner sections as
the river bends and the water moves slower. Despite my narrowboat having a
relatively shallow depth in the water, the lock-keeper told me just the day
before another narrowboat had got stuck on a shoal and had to embarrassingly
wait until the next tide before continuing their journey. {Sounds of water and light wind} Today I was not having any issues
and just plowed on. Some areas of the river are really quite
windy. Just around this corner is a sunken island called Normanton Island.
You apparently can’t see it at all from the water but because I’ve got the charts,
they’ve detailed extra level of detail for certain areas, and this is one of
them and it indicates to keep to my port side a lot more than in the centre
otherwise I will grind… grind myself? Ground myself and I’ll hear grinding! {Chuckle} Typical. Just as I come up to this sunken
island where I have to keep left, a great big cruiser is coming in the opposite
direction. I’ll go on the shallower bit because he
needs a lot more depth than me. {Music} There are not many mooring spots along
this section of the river. There is a pontoon here just before Dunham Bridge
with one 24 hour and one 48 hour mooring spot. If you get tied and decided to moor up here
instead of travelling onto the lock, it’s important to let the lock-keeper know
either by mobile phone or VHF radio. Just to the west is Cottam Power Station with
its large cooling towers. The power stations dotted along the river within
the Trent Valley produce more than a quarter of all electricity consumed in
England and Wales. The river’s water makes a plentiful supply for steam
production as well as cooling the steam, once it’s passed through
the generation turbines. Well I’ve arrived at Torksey Lock. I’m going to
walk up to the lock now and see if we can get through. I’ve just spoken to the
lock keeper. What’s really good is Cromwell Lock has
spoken ahead and told how many boats are coming up the river and this lock
keeper has been expecting us and will open the gate shortly and let us through. You need to have a long centre line for
Torksey Lock as the difference in water level is quite large. My 30-foot
centreline which reaches me on the stern was not long enough to reach up to the
lock bollard and back to me on the stern. So Jim the volunteer lock keeper was kind
enough to tie me up to the bollard and he kept an eye on its tension as Alice
rose in the lock. After passing a number of cruises I
moored up on the final mooring spot ready for my journey down the Fossdyke
Navigation. I was planning on heading down to the cathedral city of Lincoln.
Find out how I got on in the next episode. If you’ve not already subscribed
please do. It doesn’t cost you anything and by clicking the bell icon, you’ll be
notified about future releases. Until next time, see you later.

97 thoughts on “57. Navigating the Tidal River Trent on my narrowboat

  1. Some beautiful country there, Jono. The sunshine made me feel like having a nap – just like Molly. Thanks as always for sharing your journey with us, mate! 🙂

  2. Maybe consider installing a gun turret on your battleship grey narrowboat Jono 🙂

  3. Another great episode – looking forward to your trip to lovely Lincoln.

  4. Your videos are great and I specially love the times we can see Molly.

  5. Can you tell me what speed your boat is capable of, you appear to move along at a fair clip.

  6. I saw a pic recently of some boaters that got their narrowboat beached in part of the tidal stretch so had to wait 5 hours before it was re floated.

  7. This caught my eye – https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-wiltshire-44869566 Someone let the water out. Ouch!

  8. Nice video what a beautiful river and thanks for sharing .

  9. Great video! How far up the River Trent do you plan on travelling?

  10. Nice video Jono, ever considered getting a drone with the software that would enable it to follow you at a set height and distance to film while you navigate through some interesting places? Would be awesome to see!

  11. Jono, another really nice video. Thank you for sharing your travels with us.

  12. I would put the nav lights on if you don’t have them. Just Incase you need them in the future.. you can get some small LED. And the back white light get it on a pole. You can put your country’s flag on it.

  13. Brilliant video, my only minor critique is the danger music doesn't sit well for me on the last couple of videos, it doesn't really work unless you can see the danger or something is happening visually. on static shots or hidden dangers it just doesn't fit.

  14. Hi Jono. We briefly met at Crick. We had Harvey the half Springer half Lab that doesn't moult. A bit sad when I think you will remember our dog more than us! We have the same boat and engine as you. Can I ask you what revs you normally cruise at on the cut and what you have to do upstream on the rivers…..we are just about to go up the Severn. Another great video. I wonder sometimes how you do EVERYTHING yourself. Cruising , lock keeping, dog watching, cooking and cleaning, fitting out, car retrieving and then some how you manage to fit in videoing and editing your adventures. I can't do any of that as good as you and there is two of us !

  15. I wonder how many of the boaters watching this made a mental note to check the other end of the anchor rope was tied to something.

    Do you find your diesel use goes up a fair bit on a long river stretch? Oh, and I wondered, with a flat bottomed boat, do you rock a fair bit?

  16. Another very enjoyable video, Jono, thank you. Please could we have more footage of the real co-star in your series. Molly.

  17. i love where you go on the canals and rivers they are really intresting

  18. Ahoi, Jono und Molly, mir gefallen Deine Videos immer besser. DANKE

    Ahoy, Jono and Molly, I like your videos better and better. THANK YOU

  19. I am always pleased when I see you have posted another episode, fantastic. As I will be away for some weeks I hope that you both stay safe and well, happy cruising – I look forward to seeing the next stages of the Journey with Jono, and of course the lovely Molly

  20. Well done, would I be correct in assuming the various manned locks have VHF so you can just radio them as we do here in the states and Canada?

  21. Hello Jono…..Great video, thank you for sharing. Molly looks well prepared with her life vest. Safe travels and enjoy.

  22. Great video. Thanks for sharing. Bit of a dramatic start! It does look lovely on the river but I’d be biting my nails the whole time. I really admire you for being able to film, talk and navigate 😊
    I thought you might be going up the Chesterfield Canal next?

  23. I would have loved to see more of the JOURNEY with Jono rather than the Holiday Show type travelogue. I kept expecting Gloria Hunniford to appear. The River Trent is a stunning river, especially in the glorious Summer sunshine we are currently experiencing. Seeing would have been nice rather than dipping a toe into it like someone afraid of cold water.
    Here is a funny parody of that BBC program: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6EdKtWAIMY
    I do realise this is not a kiss arse comment but you can't have ying and yang without a bit of yang.

  24. Nice video 🙂 you ever got stuck on a sandbank before?

  25. Looks liie you're having the time of your life, and it made my morning sharing the trip with you.

  26. Hi Jono, lovely video , Cromwell lock was one of my pet hates , & it used to terrify me because of that weird , many years ago 4 cadets lost their lives , when they tried to jump it in a dinghy when they were drunk , Lincoln is one of my favourite places as well as norfolk broads , somewhere in Brayford pool is MY late mum's wedding ring which my father dropped in there ,

  27. Great vlog Jono. Love how you make your videos very informative 🙂

  28. Nice area, love those curves. I wonder how busy the lock keepers are with maintenance type jobs?

  29. Marvelous videos Jono. I do appreciate how you highlight the potential pitfalls, on a tidal river there are clearly many, and then detail the steps you take to avoid the problems, you do this very well. The maps you purchased of the tidal Trent seem like an essential tool. You mentioned that one way to contact the lock keepers is by VHS radio. Are there some sections where VHS radios are a requirement, the Thames for example? I heard that you need to complete a 1 day course to use the VHS system for boats. Do you know anything about this and for which sections of river VHS radio is a requirement?


  30. Great journey Jono & molly, i have done that several times on a 60ft Sheffield barge, lovely clear water at Torksey swam in there a few times, some big freshwater muscles in there.

  31. Love your videos! I've been binge watching them. It's feel as if we're travelling with you. I love the hum of the boat, it's super relaxing! Looking forward to the next video.

  32. Wow that is so far inland for a tidal river ! Is it possible to navigate to Boston from the Trent via the Fossdyke navigation, the river Witham ? Then out on to the wash & in and up the Great river Ouse ?

  33. It was reported on our local news today, BBC Manchester, that the section of the Leeds and Liverpool canal from the Wigan flight to Skipton may be closed due to a lack of water. Now that is a fair old stetch of water to be closed and will affect an awful lot of boaters. Hope any stretch of canalyou may be going to after the Trent dosen't get a similar restriction.

  34. £10 for that booklet is a bit steep!
    Great vlog though, Jono. It all looks marvellous.

  35. A tenner well spent if you ask me. These rivers look quite daunting but I’m sure they are not that bad as long as you keep your wits about you. Great info jono

  36. Just watched this video, I think it was brilliant, very informative. I’m still nervous when it comes to tidal waters, Ians more adventurous 😱
    Kathryn & Ian (spoke to you at Swarkestone)

  37. Hello from Victoria Australia, thanks for another great video, much appreciated, what a life you have.

  38. That was lovely, thank you. It looks so pretty. This is probably a thick question but can you go a lot quicker on the river? Or is the film from the front of Alice speeded up a bit?

  39. Some of the bow camera shots are deceptive, It looked like with a few more knots you could get Alice up on plane. Like I said, deceptive. It looks like Alice is well balanced and not prone to rolling from others wakes.

  40. Mind your dog doesn't overheat in that life jacket. He can swim well and all he needs is a bit of flotation and a good strap on the back to lift him out of the water. Find one with a small back float and a strong handle on the back at his sholders.
    Happy cruising!
    John H.
    B. C. Canada

  41. Good job you were not on the Kennet and Avon canal this last Tuesday Jono, some bright spark left the plug out at one of the locks and a section of the canal got drained leaving canal boats high and dry! Happy cruising.

  42. Thanks again Jono, Just a thought, if you do lots of river cruising, would it not be worth getting a depth sensor on the Bow?

  43. Always love your videos. While some have gone to more talking to the camera and telling a story, mixed in with a bit of canal video, you always bless us with canal video while telling the tale. Thank you. I'm sorry for asking the following question in a video comment, but I have no other way of seeking your advice. I'm an avid American gongoozler. My wife and I have both spent time in the UK and are diehard anglophiles. We plan to buy a narrowboat and continuously cruise for a year or two once I retire. We've never been on the canal or in a narrowboat but we do RV quite a bit, so we understand some of the lifestyle challenges/attractions. Sorry, necessary background for my question seeking your advice.

    We're preparing to book a narrow boat holiday for 2019. Should we book two weeks instead of one? (Don't want to feel rushed or scheduled.) What time of year would be best? (We realize the weather is always in question and would like to get the feel of the canal without the heavy holiday traffic.) What part of the network would you recommend?

    I've watched your journey from the beginning and, like all your constant viewers, feel like I know you without knowing you at all. I hope it's appropriate to impose upon you with these questions. Cheers!

  44. Hi Jono, really enjoying your journey and would like one day to do the same. Quick question, how much is it going to cost you fitting out your boat compared to buying it fully fitted….cheers and happy cruising

  45. Lovely part of the world, Lincoln is a beautiful city with the Cathedral and Castle well worth visiting. I lived at Gainsborough ( England's most inland port) for several years. On the news yesterday it mentioned that Barrowford lock will be closed due to the feeder reservoirs being very low. This might be up to or perhaps beyond September. It's on the Leeds Liverpool so wont effect you now but might in the coming months.

  46. Here in New York state we have the Erie Canal which traverses east to west across the upper part of the state. It is very popular for boaters. What is missing are the branches that once tied other parts of the state to the canal. Today there only remains small remnants or historic signs of what was once one of the greatest transportation systems built by man. After watching your videos,it makes me think how nice it would be to have these older,smaller canals to navigate on just as you do in Britain. Your narrow boats would be ideal

  47. Please give your dog options for shelter from the sun common sense you have a hat ETC

  48. Another great vlog Jono, love the production, what video editing software do you use?

  49. exciting times – it must be a relief to have the river locks manned like that – seems quite scary to me!

  50. Hard to believe narrow boats still burn coal and diesel, the two most polluting energy sources! With such a huge surface atop, narrow boats are ideal for a large solar system installation (and yes it produces energy even on cloudy days). By replacing the messy diesel engine with tinny electric motor that will run almost forever with zero maintenance, not to mention the money saved on diesel.

  51. An air or water heat pump would solve the heating and AC problem with very small electric consumption.

  52. Well done Jono. I have a particular interest in the River Trent as I was born in a place that overlooks Stoke Bardolph (from 3 miles away!). So I've seen a few videos about the tidal parts of the Trent, which fascinates me, and yours is the best, it just fits with everything I wanted to know. Thanks again!

  53. Hi Jono – slowly working through your videos. Really appreciate the work you put into them. I'm sure I heard you mention in one video something about your car? How do you accommodate a car into your live aboard lifestyle?

  54. Another good vlog. Therapy for me as I can't get to my boat at the moment. Thank you.

  55. What frequency vhf?. I swapped my boat for a Folksong yacht, the canals got a bit boring after a few years. Long time ago.

  56. Where do you get your music?????? I want it for intro in my videos please tell us how to get the music:(

  57. The last time I was on that bit of the Trent I was travelling in the opposite direction on a hire boat fighting current and wind, and wasn't 100% convinced I'd make it to Cromwell lock! (I did, but 20 minutes later than the three other boats in the group.) Your trip looks really pleasant. I'm not sure I'd want to do it single handed myself though.

  58. I'm enjoying your videos very much (starting at the beginning and 'binge' watching.) I've been surprised at the number of swans on the waterways–they give everything a storybook quality–lovely.

  59. Hi Jono, Great Videos im learning a lot from them. Could you let me know what Size is your Anchor that you require for a 57-foot Narrowboat?

  60. Hi Jono. Excellent quality and clarity with both video, and narrative. Enjoy watching your adventures with Molly.

  61. It was nice to meet you today! I hadn't actually watched your Tidal River Trent and Chesterfield Canal vids but I'm on it now.

  62. Another very enjoyable adventure, thanks Jono😃👍👏👏👏

  63. Nice to see the Bison relaxing on the bank at around 5.53.
    The old coal powered Cottam power Station will close in September, a good thing given its designed life was 30 years and it has been operating for 50.

  64. So if you didnt have the chart would it be dangerous to traverse this part of the river? It seems to me like the charts should be given freely if they're vital :O

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