We are off the Great Ouse waterways, pretty much two months to the day after we arrived on them. And we are back on the Middle Level.
But only just!
The short tidal hop from Denver to Salter's Lode almost proved the undoing of this helmsman. Running against the incoming tide, you have to go past the lock (whose entrance is angled back, dog-leg fashion), turn and come back in with the flow. Except I didn't - turn that is. After a couple of months of turning gently on quiet rivers my mind had switched off to tidal flows so I turned too gently and found myself heading for the far bank before I was even half way round.
After that it was mayhem, the fast running tide pulled my stern round and started pushing me relentlessly backwards the way I'd come and almost broadside to the river too. Fortunately the big Lister has plenty of power so, after a couple of false starts I managed to reverse fast enough to outrun the flow, get some steerage on and straighten up the boat - by which time I was a hundred yards past the lock.
Still, plenty of space to try again. This time I turned with full power, spun round with no trouble and aimed for the lock entry. Phew! We were in. And Paul the lockie, chuckling quietly, told me all my mistakes "but I did enjoy all the smoke rings your engine was blowing out when you were sorting it all out".
All of which doesn't auger well with the crew for our next tidal trip .... across The Wash. This was going to be from Denver to Boston but our pilot - you need one of those to steer you through the tricky sandbanks - wanted to take a second boat for safety in numbers and both he and the other boat preferred the trip from Wisbech on the Nene as being safer and less weather dependent. So we are on our way back across the Middle Level to Peterborough and then down to Wisbech where we link up with the rest of the intrepid Wash crossers at the weekend.
Next time: highlights of the Ouse waterways.