As everyone who knows me will be aware, I do tend to find a link between just about any event and a song and don’t hesitate to sing it. This song was what was running through my head as we took the boat out of Salthouse Dock and onto the Mersey last Friday. The wind had been too strong on Wednesday, when we had originally intended to leave, but was fine by Friday. The rain, however, was incessant, although not particularly heavy – to begin with anyway.
The first hurdle is to get through Brunswick Lock out onto the Mersesy.
This lock is controlled by Liverpool Marina, incurs a charge of £40 for them to operate and needs to be booked in advance. If anyone’s interested in doing this trip I’ll put a list of useful websites and phone numbers at the end of the blog.
We were a touch apprehensive as the flow on the Mersey can be incredibly strong. We had chosen a neap (ish) tide to make the trip – leaving Brunswick Dock a couple of hours before the flood so that the flow of the tide would help us along. Gordon had studied the charts and read up as much as possible and was confident that we could get safely across the river and into the Eastham Channel.
We’d already contacted Eastham Port Control a couple of days before our departure but had been asked to contact them again when we got out onto the Mersey. I did panic a touch when he said he might not be able to fit us in! Once you’re out on the tideway in a narrowboat you really don’t want to be hanging about. He told us to come across anyway and contact him again when we got to Eastham. He also let us know that there was a small tanker coming out and we should meet it in the Eastham Channel.
If you look very carefully you can just about see the tanker in the distance, to the right of the second buoy. Gordon’s job was to get across the river to the far side of the red buoy and make sure that he was close enough to the shore so that we were not in anyone’s way.
Plenty of room for a little one like us!
Wouldn’t fancy meeting her on a smaller waterway! There’s always a chance that you’ll meet boats of this size and bigger coming down from Stanlow Oil Refinery but we were lucky on Friday as this was the only boat moving. We thought that the tanker was being particularly thoughtful as he slowed down on our approach. On looking aft there was a large RFA Vessel manoeuvring into the Port of Liverpool and the tanker was, in all likelihood, slowing down to leave time for that. Whatever the reason, his wake did not disturb us at all which was a big plus.
For those in the know in Newlyn, we passed the shipyard where the Girl Pat III was built.
It took about forty minutes for us to get to the final buoy before our entrance to Eastham…
…and we were very relieved that the lock was empty, open and ready for us. As you can see it is a rather large lock, as are they all on the Ship Canal.
I made a complete pig’s ear of getting the rope to the lock keepers but they were patient and got us safely through and onto the Ship Canal. One of them even posed for a photo as we left the lock.
Once on the Ship Canal there was a lot less stress – no tides, and no large boat movements.
We passed Ellesmere Port…
…the Stanlow Oil Refinery (Gordon in his youth worked on Shell Tankers that landed in Stanlow)…
…the entrance to the River Weaver…
…before getting to Latchford Locks, one of four more we’d be going through before we reached Salford Quays. By this time it was tipping it down and frequent trips below for cups of tea were required (apart from Gordon who stayed manfully at the tiller throughout and had his tea brought to him).
At Thelwall we passed the Penny Ferry which we used to cross the Ship Canal on a sunny day a few years ago…
…we passed under the Barton Swing Bridge and Aqueduct that we’ve crossed many times on the boat…
…and were very pleased to moor up in Salford Quays as the weather started to improve.
We set off through Brunswick Lock at around 8.15 am and arrived in Salford Quays at around 6pm – just under 10 hours. Tiring but so worth it!
Liverpool Link – can only be booked on line by logging into your CRT Account, going to the web licencing pages and going to ‘my boats’ then ‘bookings’.
Brunswick Lock – To book passage through Brunswick Lock phone Liverpool Marina on 0151 707 6777 or call into the Marina Office. You’ll need to call into the office to pay for the passage anyway. The cost was £40 when we did it this year.
Manchester Ship Canal – https://www.peelports.com/marine-information?port=manchester-ship-canal Choose Publications and Forms then Pleasure Craft Induction Pack. This gives you all the information and forms you need to fill in to book your passage. The cost for the journey we took was £199 as we were going all the way up to Salford Quays. If you’re only going to Ellesmere Port or The Weaver it is cheaper. The costs are listed in the Induction Pack. The pack also gives a list of approved MSCC Surveyors. We were going through Middlewich so used Mr B Taylor, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 01606 83668 Mob: 07516 483337 – he was extremely helpful and gave us loads of hints and tips as well as certifying the boat as sound. The cost for this was £45.
Eastham Port Control – a couple of days before you book your passage up the Ship Canal from Liverpool you need to contact Eastham Port Control on 0151 327 4638 to let them know your plans. In our case they asked us to ring again on the morning we planned to travel and then again just after we entered the Mersey from Brunswick Lock. They will let you know of any other shipping that is likely to be around and will give you a time for going through Eastham Lock. When you leave Eastham Lock you will be asked to phone the contractors who operate Latchford Locks when you reach a certain point. Eastham Control kept in touch with the contractors and contacted us on a regular basis to monitor our progress. They communicated on VHF Band 14 and also gave us a ring. From Latchford on the contractors phoned ahead to the other lock operators and made sure that the locks were set and ready for us when we arrived.
Mooring Salford Quays – We emailed Andy.Mullen@urbanvision.org.uk to enquire about this. Moorings there are not bookable but are free and operate on a first come first served basis. I think it’s advisable to let them know you’re planning a stay there though. We were welcomed by a chap from Salford Council who checked that everything was OK for us. There are good facilities to hand including water, pump out and elsan. There is only room for two full length narrowboats up at the end of the central bay beside Holiday Inn Express and the Watersports Centre.
Pomona Lock – Passage through this needs to be booked 72 hours before you plan to go through from Salford Quays to the Bridgewater Canal. We booked it by emailing BridgewaterCanal@Peel.co.uk. They replied giving us a date and time and asking us to pay via a link. They will need to know your craft name, craft length, CRT Index and a mobile telephone number. The cost for this is £30.