Crossing the Wash in a Narrowboat

Last updated: 30th December 2015

I made two trips across the Wash in 2015:


This page holds a variety of pieces of information that I assembled for these trips. Please note:
  • I do not vouch for the accuracy or completeness of this information.
  • Please verify it yourself.
  • It may well be out of date
  • Although I will not be routinely updating this page, please let me know (via the form at the foot of the page) of any major errors, or missing links.

The first place to start if you are looking for a guide (and many insurers insist on this) is Daryl Hill (email). This article from Canal Boat gives you some useful pointers as to the things that really matter to him (eg the last item in the checklist at section 6 below).

This page shows information ordered in several sections:

  1. Maps and navigational gadgets
  2. Weather and tide information
  3. Great Ouse – from Denver via Kings Lynn to the Wash
  4. River Witham – Boston to the Wash
  5. River Nene – Dog-in-a-Doublet via Wisbech to the Wash
  6. My checklist
  7. My plans for 2015
  8. Assorted blogs and social media resources

1. Maps and gadgets

  • Imrays paper chart Y9
  • Navstick GPS dongle. Matching Imrays chart available. Worked nicely with a standard laptop, using the Easychart software included with the dongle.
  • Nasa marine depth sounder – photos here. Surprisingly useful, and reassuring.
  • VHF Channel guide here
  • Skywatch wind gauge
  • Sun Compass (requires Java, a watch, and no clouds!). Output for the Wash here (May). and here (August)
  • Log & timing sheets (Denver-Lynn; Lynn to Sea; Sea to Boston; Boston to Wisbech, Wisbech to Dog, and knot calculator). Available in Excel (if you want to fiddle). See the first tab for more details. PDF extracts are below.

2. Weather and tides

  • MetcheckHunstanton
  • Met OfficeHunstanton
  • Cefas wave height – look for “North Well Waverider”
  • Windfinder wave heights – Hunstanton
  • XC Weather – the site I used most
  • Windguru
  • River Ouse water levels – EA
  • River Witham water levels – EA
  • Neat little tidetables (get Boston, Sutton Bridge, Kings Lynn)
  • High Water Wisbech = HW Sutton Bridge + 40 mins
  • High Water Dog in a Doublet = HW Sutton Bridge + 2 hours (approx)
  • HW Denver = HW Kings Lynn + 1 hour (approx)
  • Tidal gauges:
  • Humber Coastguard 01262 672 317 VHF Ch 16

3. Great Ouse – from Denver via Kings Lynn to the Wash

  • Denver Sluice Tel 01366 382013
  • Main Kings Lynn Harbour Master homepage.
  • Key contacts: HM 01553 773411 / 07784 548842 / Vhf 14 “Lynn Harbour”.  ABP (01553) 691555.
  • Small boat and ship guide
  • Charts – some updated monthly, includes buoy positions, NB the buoys move around quite a bit so keep an eye on this website, the NTMs in particular
  • Sail the wash, including details of the pontoons in Kings Lynn
  • Rather old guide for the Denver to Kings Lynn section – buy a 1:25,000 OS map too?
  • Google Earth photos Denver to Kings Lynn (2.5 MB: June 2015 version), incorporating some of the information from the sketch chart above.
  • Suggested passage plan for Denver to Boston trip (PDF) – showing buoys and other landmarks.
  • HW Denver = HW Kings Lynn + 1 hour (approx)

4. River Witham – Boston to the Wash

  • Boston to the Wash chart (extract from Y9)
  • Passage plan for Boston to Wisbech
  • Grand Sluice Lock 07712 010920 or 01205 364864 (Mike or Sam). VHF Ch 74
  • Photo of Boston – Black Sluice to Grand Sluice.
  • Opening hours of Grand Sluice (C&RT). Out of hours bookings (0500-2200) available with lots of notice to C&RT at Newark (email). NB latest note from C&RT suggest that locking through on the level is not possible on strong spring tides.
  • Black Sluice Lock booking line (EA): 01522 785041
  • Port of Boston 01205 365571  07712 133430
  • Contact VHF Ch 12. “Boston Port Control” can provide commercial traffic forecast from 2.5 hours before HW. Port Control Office contact numbers are 01205 362328 or 07966 244341. (Source: here, dated January 2013)

5. River Nene – Dog-in-a-Doublet via Wisbech to the Wash

  • Photoguide to the tidal Nene – version 3 (August 2015, as modified in the light of experience).
  • The Wash to the Nene  chart (Y9 extract)
  • VHF Sutton Bridge Port Ch 14; Wisbech Port Ch 14; .  Port duty officer 07860 576685.
  • Sutton Swing Bridge Ch 09
  • Dog-in-a-Doublet Lock Ch 77, Tel (01733) 202219
  • Wisbech Yacht Harbour for overnight pontoon moorings. Harbour Master 01945 588059
  • Nene approaches chart (June 2015 edition)
  • Nene approaches position of buoys – latest draft (issued 5th May 2015)
  • High Water Wisbech = HW Sutton Bridge + 40 mins
  • High Water Dog in a Doublet = HW Sutton Bridge + 2 hours (approx)

6. My checklist

  • Insurance
  • Lifejackets
  • Lifebelts and heaving lines
  • Flares etc
  • Anchor, chain, warp
  • Navigation lights
  • Horn(s)
  • Weather board to stop the boat sinking. Gaffer tape also useful.
  • VHF radio, and qualified operator
  • Walkie talkies for talking to other boats in your convoy
  • Clean fuel, fuel filters etc.
  • Check oil and coolant levels
  • Clean fuel: check it again
  • Newish fan belt, correctly tensioned
  • Spare filters, fan belts, fuses, Jubilee clips, starter batteryetc
  • Register your boat with the Coastguard (CG66)
  • Light ladder, if you want to beach on the sand and go for a walk.
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Expensive crockery tidied away
  • Cupboards fixed shut with gaffer tape.
  • Sausage rolls, bacon sarnies, etc

7. 2015 Plan – Denver to Boston, Boston to Wisbech

  • Saturday 23rd May 2015 (executed to plan – see blog)
    • High Water Kings Lynn 1030 BST
    • Depart Ely 0530, arrive Denver 0930. Fit crotch straps.
    • Depart Denver about 1030, just before High Water at 1130
    • High Water Boston 2300 BST
    • Estimated lock-in time at Grand Sluice 2100
    • Lock open that day 2000-2100
    • Arrive Burton Waters marina, Lincoln, Monday 25th May.
  • Tuesday 11th August (executed to plan – see blog)
    • HW Boston 0424 BST
    • Aim to leave Boston around 0615 (actually 0640)
    • Arrive Wisbech 1400 (actually 1530)
    • Stay overnight and travel on to Dog-in-a-Doublet on 12th August (depart Wisbech 0430!).

8. Assorted blogs and other social media stuff


Please let me know, using the form below,  if you spot any errors or omissions, or have any other comments or suggestions.


2 thoughts on “Crossing the Wash in a Narrowboat

  1. Pingback: Final preparations for the Wash | Scholar Gypsy

  2. Pingback: Scholar Gypsy crosses the Wash | Scholar Gypsy

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