|Wrong way round|
That's because water levels on the Level are low and Stanground Lock is rather shallow and we are deep drafted so we had to turn round and reverse in. That would put our deep stern over the deepest section of the lock. Then we reverse out and spin back round. Simple!
Or not. First of all turning to reverse in was not at all easy in a howling crosswind and when we got in and the lock was emptied we found ourselves sitting at a jaunty angle on the bottom. Hmmm. This didn't auger well for our chances of making any headway along the Level itself.
Try again, this time with me on the roof keeping the boat in the centre of the lock which apparently has a curved base, hence the grounding. We stayed afloat and I reversed out – then spent the next ten minutes painstakingly grinding the boat round the right way in a shallow channel only a couple of feet wider than we were.
But we got round, paid our fiver for a key to open the sanitation station and lock pen, and set off with me cautiously hugging the centre of the channel and trickling along. No problems at all, though, until we reached the notoriously narrow and sharp 90deg turn in the middle of Whittlesey when we grounded again. Fortunately a mixture of poleing and pushing got us off and we are now moored up for the night, having scoffed our way through Fen sized portions of fish and chips.
First impressions are that the Fens are as flat as ever, as windswept as ever, a little tidier and cleaner but otherwise pretty much as they were five years ago. Aside from a few more wind turbines - half of which weren't turning on a very windy day (why?) – and another of those huge solar farms on the edge of Whittlesey, built by the same firm who built the one we passed back near Wellingborough. It can power 900 local homes.
We might have been stuck yesterday but at least we were not as high and dry as this poor bugger washed up onto Peterborough embankment during the winter floods and now well and truly becalmed.
Perhaps he will be turned into a piece of urban art?