2004 Our first Cruise, Goole to York and back

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go for fuel in Goole Before we setting off up the river Ouse from Goole to York we needed fuel as we had only filled the newly cleaned tank with some red diesel using a few gerry cans. At that time Goole was still busy with commercial barges so we were wary to not get in the way. Manoevring the 100tonnes Waterdog with the 48 HP and 60 year old Gardner 4LW engine was a new experience. We were used to yachts and small boats.
Moored at Naburn Alongside above Naburn lock after braving the Ouse river on the in-coming tide up from Goole. The difficulty of this trip was that the flood tide meant we couldn't slow down as we approached low bridges that were opened at the last moment. Then the tide turned against us and we could only just make against it as we completed the last few miles to Naburn lock. The final trial was when the steering wheel came off in Lorna's hands as she manoeuvred to come alongside here. Waterdog gently crunched the wooden quayside while Lawrence and Pete looked on and kept fingers and toes clear of the crunch! Still, here we are after our first days cruise!
Steering postion Lawrence getting used to driving our dining room on a beautiful summers day in August 2004.

Email to the DBA after our first cruise in Waterdog, August 2004

Our first summer cruise with Waterdog (90ft x 15ft Humber barge), Goole to
York and back.

First we would like to thank people for helping with hints and tips on the
river trip from Goole to York, much appreciated. We borrowed the Rippon
cruising guide to the Trent and Ouse and this turned out to be invaluable
for navigating the river even allowing for it being out of date, we will try
to get the newly updated version this winter.

Apart from hints from dba members we also researched our trip by visiting
the bridges & locks, talking to BW staff and other river users and taking a
river trip on a boat bus to York. Everyone was very helpful.

From the research it seemed that getting through the Selby bridges with the
last of flood tide was critical, so that steerage could be kept up without a
huge speed over the ground. We thought Waterdog was big enough to do serious
damage if we got it wrong. We left Goole 30 mins before HW to get to Selby
for the end of the flood. This meant that the tide was high enough to
require all the bridges to swing open for us, except for the new Selby
bypass bridge. Even that was close enough to rattle the VHF aerial as we
passed under. The timing was perfect and we scooted through the Selby
bridges with about 2kts of current with us, then met the tight right hand
bend straight after them. Yikes! the natural tendancy seems to be a sideways
current towards the outside of each bend so Waterdogs 90ft length was
dragged towards the trees despite all our 55HP trying to push us clear. We
collected several branches on the aft deck and these were duely presented to
the helmsman. The next tight bend was a left hander so we collected more
branches and reshaped the TV aerial. This problem decreased as the flood
slacked away but would come back and haunt us later.

Up to Naburn lock as the tide ebbed and gratefully into the lock to end a
momentous day for us and Waterdog. Or so we thought... As we exited the
lock the wheel came off in Lornas' hands and the nearby plastic fantastics
looked very vulnerable. Luckily we were aimed at empty quayside with ropes
ready and having taken a deep chunk out of the wooden fendering we tied the
boat up for the day and relaxed.

The next day brought brilliant sunshine and visitors from Scotland, England
and Cornwall for final leg up to York. We used a portable echosounder in the
dinghy to check out the reports of shallows in the river and found we would
have 6" to spare, no probs. We set off in the evening and motored gently up
the river with the guests sipping white wine and waving back to the numerous
well wishers who remembered the barge from its days in York as a
houseboat(party boat). It was a great home coming and we were even met by a
couple who used to live on the boat in York and who had been getting phone
calls for 2 days telling them of our progress up the river towards them. We
set off the horns as we passed Waterdog's old moorings and then tied up at
Queens staith where the old working barges used to go in the centre of the
city. Pop went the champagne and hugs all round, Waterdog was mobile again
and we had brought her back to the place where she had been sent for scrap
from, 8 years earlier.

The next day brought a change in the weather and a months rain fell in
24hrs! Our second morning saw more continuous rain and a river level rising
as we watched with our first coffee. 'Better get out of here' was the
consensus as we watched the other boats escaping down river. Our air draft
was close enough to the bridges as it was. We slipped from York and started
back to Naburn with a river increasing in speed and height and filling with
huge trees and debris. While avoiding one tree, we got swept to the outside
of a bend and then had a heart stopping 30 seconds fight to keep the stern
away from white cruisers lining the entire riverside. We missed some by
inches and only drew breath once we gained the centre of the river again.
WOW, close call and we vowed to stick to our central path no matter what
debris tried to get in the way. At Naburn we found an empty quay - basically
because it was already 6" under water and they were expecting a further rise
of more than 2m! All the narrow boats and cruisers were tied 6 abreast to
the floating pontoon and the lock was shut down. We set about sending out
our big warps to the biggest trees on both sides of the river. We were going
to have to keep Waterdog from floating over the canal side as it disappeared
underwater. There we stayed as the water rose over the next 2 days and we
became an island in a strange inland sea. We eventually had to use the
dinghy to paddle over the caravan park (2-3m underwater) to the camp sites
shop! It was 5 days before the lock was back in operation and another 2 days
before we considered the river safe to negotiate to Goole. It was nice to
have our home with us though as we waited to get back to our 'home base'.

We timed our departure from Naburn to get us to the Selby bridges as the
flood turned to ebb and then we could relax more as the rest of the return
trip went in a slow sunny meander down a wide muddy river. Great to get back
and already talk of next years cruise - down the Trent maybe, to Lincoln or

This trip has made us wonder if a 55HP Gardner 4LW is enough for a 90ft
barge. It seems fine on slow moving canals or open water but needs a lot of
thought and planning for fast rivers or tidal streams. We would be loath to
replace an engine that has been in the boat since the 1940's and seems
reliable but we're basically using nearly full power for normal cruising
with nothing to spare. It also only used an average of 1.25 gal/hr. Maybe
the addition of a bow thruster (independently powered) would help the
situation. Any thoughts?

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