We’d heard a few scare stories about getting into Keadby Lock. But we listened to the advice from the lock keepers and set forth. Our first problem was locating the lock entrance as we were looking directly into the evening sun and it was really hard to see the green light.
Once we had it in our sights we slowed right down, But as expected we kept moving with the flow,
We then began a 180′ pivot, to realign ourselves facing upstream. At least we weren’t in any danger of grounding as we turned.
We had been warned about a shifting sandbank on the north side of the lock entrance but the tide was still high enough to be in our favour.
Once we were facing upstream Eric held the boat stationary, treading water until he matched the speed of Firecrest to the flow of water.
Quite an achievement considering the flow of water was considerable we travelled down around 4mph and the current was also 4mph therefore our speed was roughly 8mph.
It gave Eric time to gain is composure/nerves before putting on hard throttle to turn sharp right into the lock.
However he hadn’t taken into consideration the speed of flow being slower in the leigh of the bank than the centre channel of the river, meaning he was expecting to be pulled downstream faster than he actually was.
My nerves and composure failed as we both held our breath wondering if we’d make it before being bashed against all that solid metal piling and swept away to sea. At this point I decided holding on to the boat was more important than photos Most boats bear battle scars from the lock wall, and I’m not going to reveal how close Eric got to making it in unscaithed, needless to say he wants to do it again, with a bit less throttle.
Once inside the lock the keeper took my bow rope up to secure us. There are several ways to tie off in a lock, most of the deep river locks have an inset poleor chain that ropes can be looped around which just slide up or down as the water levels change. West Stockwith threw a secure rope down for us us to hold on to, keadby passed down a rope with a carabiner clip on the end and it took me a moment to realise we had to attach our own ropes which he raised up to wrap round the bollards. The torrent of water coming in through the top gates made it feel like I was at the base of Niagara Falls. Glad I had a secured rope to hold onto.
Once we were raised to canal level and gates were opened, we realised we couldn’t go any further because there was a swing bridge in front of us. Luckily the lock keeper operated that one automatically for us.
It was nearly 8pm by the time we were through the swing bridge, all the other mooring had been taken, (not that there was a lot) so we took the anguished decision to overnight on the waterpoint, something we’d usually be vehemently against, but there was a second water point available. And we’d move straight after breakfast. All we could do now was enjoy the sunset.
I’m not surprised most narrowboaters are anxious about Keadby and West Stockwith Locks. We did both in near perfect conditions and the photos don’t do justice to the power involved, both of nature and narrowboat. Part of the problem is, is that there’s no easy way to practice these locks and the next time you get to do