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the humber

I am going to be taking a 63ft narrow boat from driffield to trent falls has any one got any advise for this journey on the humber estuary thank you.

Asked by: andy wakler  | 5.41pm, Sunday 31 May


WW says:

Firstly- make sure you have a good set of charts- the Trent Boating Association publish the definitive guide. Then, seek advice on the tide times, tidal ranges and sensible moorings- if you are going to head up the Ouse, it is likely you will have to beach and/or anchor off the mudflats at Tackhammer.
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You must ensure the boat is properly equipped. I would strongly suggest that you ensure your diesel tank is free from water and sludge- this can stirred up on tidal rivers as the boat tends to move more. This can then lead to fuel starvation and/or blocked filters. I would suggest changing fuel filters if they haven't been recently done, and carry spares.
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You should ensure that your engine is well cooled so that it can run at high speed if required, without overheating. If keel cooled then ensure that the tanks are bled and the coolant solution if the correct concentration of antifreeze as this raises the boiling point of the solution.
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I would strongly suggest VHF radio (with the appropriate licence from Ofcom and operators certificate) as commercial barges will monitor VHF, as will VTS Humber.
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As with all tidal waterways, a good anchor, with decent length of chain and line, permanently attached to the boat is essential, as is a good horn, proper navigation lights (including anchor light if you will be beached or moored overnight), lifejackets, powerful torches and full fuel and water tanks.
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If you are going beyond Trent Falls onto the Humber itself, I would seek local guidance from the Trent Boating Association and from Associated British Ports. The Humber itself is not usually suitable for Narrowboats as it can be cut up quite rough, and most Narrowboats can't make sufficient through the water speed to make headway fast enough.

Mark Langley  | 7.02PM, Sunday 31 May

Apologies, I partly misread your question, mistaking Chesterfield for Driffield!
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Although a lot of what I have said above still applies, I would also add the following:
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It is very challenging to complete the journey from the river Hull (bottom end of the Driffield Navigation) to Trent Falls on one tide- most likely you would have to anchor and wait a tide cycle to move off again. It might be possible on a spring tide rather than a neap, but this does depend on your boat being able to make good speed over the ground.
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Unless you are highly confident in your boats ability to make way through the water and run at high speed continuously for a long time without overheating, then I would strongly consider not making the journey.
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As for conditions, assuming you have the correct tides (and avoid travelling at night, as navigation will be very difficult unless you are experienced in sea cruising, and even then quite challenging.
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Wind conditions should be ideally zero- certainly no more than force 2, gusting 3. You may find that you need to contact your insurance company to request cover, as this would not normally be within most narrowboats cruising ranges.
Winds blowing along the water (mainly SW and particularly NE/E) can produce quite short steep seas, particularly if the wind is against tide, which can, for narrowboats with a lot of area above water, make progress very slow and less than predicted.
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You definitely need to ensure the engine is in top condition, as is the fuel tank, fuel filters and coolant. Air cooled engines, and hull side vents, are prone to water washing in, so a good bilge pump (and possibly a spare) are important.
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You may wish to ensure that any waves finding their way into the bow cockpit can drain carefully, rather than into the boat through the bow doors. Some boat owners cover their cockpit wells with plywood covers to reduce water intake, though this can then lead to issues with means of escape from the cabin.
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It would be ill-advised to make this journey single-handed, as it can be very taxing piloting a narrowboat running at almost maximum speed, as the tiller becomes quite hard work. Also, you need to maintain a good look-out as well as constantly updating navigation. You may also wish to consider taking a pilot aboard if you do make this crossingm as well as up-to-date charts for the passage.
GPS, and the ability to translate this into a course and plot in case of poor visibility- and know your sound signals, remembering that this is a commercial waterway and should be undertaken with care and only in a boat suitably equipped.

Mark Langley  | 1.07PM, Monday 8 June


Readers say:

A pilot sounds like an excellent idea.Any ideas of cost and where to acquire one?

David Williams  | 7.23PM, Monday 17 April

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