Summer trip (3) – Boston to Wisbech via the Wash

And so the day arrived for our return trip across the Wash – Tuesday 11th August 2015.

This post is in three sections

  1. General introduction, weather chart, and chart showing key waypoints
  2. Three videos – including an excellent timelapse (thanks to cousin Matt) of the entire trip, and some shots from our drone
  3. Loads of photographs. [These replace those blogged in real time – which start here]


The weather forecast had been looking very good for the previous week.  So – I think very luckily – we made the trip in both directions on the day originally planned! (May crossing blog here). Here’s the forecast I downloaded 24 hours before we went.


High tide was scheduled for 0424, and so the tide was expected to make a level at about 0615. We would then run down to the Wash on the ebbing tide, beaching somewhere on the approaches to the Nene. Then the incoming tide would take us up the Nene to Wisbech.

We were in convoy with two other boats – COMPASS ROSE (Howard and Janet, with Daryl the pilot also on board) and OLLY OAKS (Dave and Betty) – though they would carry on to Dog-in-a-Doublet to get off the tidal river and so make things easier for their dogs.

The full chart and detailed log are here. The chart below shows the key waypoints, mentioned in the photographs and in the timelapse video that follows next.


Matt took this rather fine timelapse video
using a Gopro Hero3+ 10MP camera fixed to the mast

Hugh took this film using our new Drone

And here is a film of about 70 seals swimming along with us

Photographs (with thanks to Tim C for some – marked TC – and to Betty C on OLLY OAKS for others – marked BC). Captions are above the photographs to which they refer.

Setting off from the pontoons, to move down to the lock – 0530


Committee meeting, while waiting for the tide to make a level – from left Dave, Howard, Tim C (travelling with us for the day) and Daryl the pilot.
Loos emptied on SG and on OLLY OAKS.DSCF6130

Inner doors open, and the sea doors starting to open. COMPASS ROSE moves off first, followed by OLLY OAKS, and we bring up the rear. Traffic lights still red.DSCF6132

Green lights – GO, GO! (waypoint A on the chart).
The tide finally made a level at 0643, 20 mins later than predicted.DSCF6133 DSCF6134

We just get through  in  time (BC)DSCF1160

Leaving Boston for the last time.
The lock gates are already shut, for another 8 hours …

DSCF6137 DSCF6138

Peter steering through Historic Boston (TC)


Go-pro camera in position on the mast, Boston HavenDSCF6139

Amazingly, given its decrepit appearance, the railway bridge does swing.
Hugh will need to get that mast down pretty quickly …DSCF6140

Boston docksDSCF6143

DSCF6144 DSCF6146 DSCF6151

Hobhole sluice – where most of the water from the navigable drains (see previous post) empties into the sea. A large pumping station next door. (waypoint B on the chart)DSCF6152

Approaching Tabs Head beacon, where the Welland merges from the right and the buoyed channel starts. Waypoint C. Still very calm.DSCF6154

Tim C on the helmDSCF6161

What are those things in the distance?
They look like trees, but there are no trees in the middle of the Wash on my chart …DSCF6167

Four shots of us in the Wash (BC) – three of them show everyone on board.

DSCF1198 DSCF1187 DSCF1181 DSCF1180

Rounding Echo buoy (point D) into the Freeman channelDSCF6173DSCF6178DSCF6181

Charlie buoy (TC)


Cockle fishing boats from  Boston and Kings Lynn, beached on Roger Sand and waiting for the flood tide to bring them loads of cockles. Not trees after all.DSCF6184

And here is a clearer shot (TC), with a beached seal in the foreground


Into the open sea (point E)DSCF6186

Two ships – one anchored, one just about to do so – awaiting the incoming tideDSCF6189DSCF6190

We stopped the engines and drifted for ten minutes – very peaceful.
Fortunately all three engines restarted.DSCF6192

Two from TC

P1120275 P1120270

Ian at the helmDSCF6194

RAF no 4 buoy and tidal gauge – point F. (Just rebuilt by the EA – see here). This is where Daryl normally beaches. However as this was a neap tide the water level was quite high, so we would have beached further to the West than normal, and over the range safety line. This would have led to Typhoon jets being scrambled from RAF Coningsby to sink us, or something like that.DSCF6196

“ADAM J” (from Wisbech) had spent a day and a night anchored here,
fishing for Mackerel, quite judge from our conversation on the pontoons later onDSCF6197

And – with thanks to John T – here’s a photo from ADAM C, I think with Hunstanton in the background on the east side of the WashIMG_0703_crop

We carried on a bit further, to waypoint G.  After steering to the right to leave the channel we beached on the left of  a little inlet at 1148.DSCF6198DSCF6202

DSCF6204 DSCF6206 DSCF6209

One from TC

P1120302Time for some maintenance on the bow fender (TC) – who needs a dry dock?


The tide was starting to come in quite fast now, so time to get back on board for some lunch, while checking the anchor was well dug in.
I caught a small crab, but decided not to eat it.DSCF6211

One from BC: a team photo of everyone on board Scholar Gypsy. From the right: Peter, Tim C, Jane, Ian, Matt, Hugh and Simon.


Back on the move again, at 1312, we picked our way through the
sandbanks to rejoin the main channel


The last one from BC ..

DSCF1225Seals in the water at waypoint H. Those are trees in the background.DSCF6218 Tim C had got quite excited when he noticed that one of the buoys was called BIG ANNIE. It turned out to be a bit of a disappointment, I think.DSCF6224

The eastern of the pair of lighthouses marking the entrance to the Nene (waypoint L). [Sorry, I lost count: waypoints J and K are where King John lost his jewels 799 years ago, or maybe L stands for Lighthouse]DSCF6225 DSCF6226

HM Coastguard were not there to observe our arrival. I was tempted to call Humber Coastguard on the VHF, but decided against …DSCF6227

The last view of the sea, back down the Nene cutDSCF6230

Port Sutton Bridge  – ships large and smallDSCF6235 DSCF6236 DSCF6237 DSCF6238

This pontoon was remodelled in February 2016 – details here

DSCF6239 DSCF6240 DSCF6241 DSCF6244

Approaching WisbechDSCF6246

The winding hole – ships for Wisbech turn here and then
manoeuvre onto the  dock wallsDSCF6248

Wisbech Yacht Harbour. We have just (at 1530) turned to port by 180 degrees, and are now ferry gliding to port, to get away from the dredger you can see in the background.DSCF6249

Getting closer …DSCF6250

Past the dredger, just this catamaran to go. We need to moor just upstream of it.DSCF6252

Nearly there – Nick on NB BEATTY in the background watching closely … (TC)

P1120323And then a ferry glide to the right gets us safely moored up on the jetty at 1536.

Three lines at the stern, and three at the bow, as we will be here for 12 hours and so have to cope with flood and ebb tides. So: one line holds the boat (forwards) when the tide is flooding, one holds it (backwards) during the ebb, and the third holds the boat into the pontoon, so that people can safely get on and off.DSCF6253

Grandpa Hugh is quickly onto the pontoon with his book. NB also two of the three bow mooring lines.DSCF6254

Matt and I explored historic Wisbech – very fine. The ice cream van looked tempting but had shut for the night,DSCF6256 DSCF6257 DSCF6261 DSCF6263 DSCF6266

Inspecting the other boats on the pontoon: lots of plastic to miss early the following morning. To see what happened, see the next post….DSCF6267

NB the dredger in the background (TC)P1120328BREAKING NEWS: our arrival has made it to the “leisure”
section of the local newspaper. See here.


4 thoughts on “Summer trip (3) – Boston to Wisbech via the Wash

  1. Pingback: The view from Boston Stump | Scholar Gypsy

  2. Dear Simon,
    Another great day! Well done you all, I only wish A) You had found our lost ladder on the sandbanks and
    B) That we had seen half so many seals as you did! What a treat.
    NB What a Lark


  3. Simon, Glad that you had a pilot. Looked a bit too “big sea, little boat” for comfort. Could you have carried on and made it as far as the Falkirk Wheel (over several summers!)? Or is there a ‘gap’. The North Sea may be somewhat more of a challenge than the Wash.
    Well done though.
    Lorna and Andy


    • You should look at the videos for our May crossing…

      Rather too big a gap to get to Scotland, I fear – and one would start at the Humber rather than the Wash. One can get further north on the west coast – Ribble estuary crossing and then north towards Kendal (you can see the derelict locks from the M6, which severed the canal when it was built in the 1960s).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s