The EA, during the previous week had brought a floating Smalley
excavator and a land based dredger, to open out the entrance, and the channel
sides were re-profiled. To "test" the work on the Friday, a narrow boat cruiser,
"Olive Emily", had locked out of Salter's Lode Lock (Well Creek)
just before low tide and attempted to enter the mouth of the Old Bedford, but
unfortunately not enough silt had been dredged from below the waterline for the
boat to enter. Not wishing to miss the "window" of opening of the tidal doors,
the boater decided to reverse in, using his propeller to carve out his own
channel, and managed to reach the Old Bedford.
It was then hoped that the EA dredging contractors, now realising that
some further deepening work was needed, would complete this on the Friday
afternoon. Unfortunately no further work was undertaken.
On the Saturday morning the main contingent was due, and the first boat,
"Hillpenny", locked down from Salter's Lode before low tide, but was
unable to manoeuvre, despite many different attempts, through the mouth of the
channel. Eventually, the boat became completely stemmed up, preventing any It
was not until the incoming tide refloated the boat, that it was able to move,
but by this time the "low tide window" for entry through the Old Bedford Sluice
was past. Whilst the boat was stuck, checks were made on the depth available -
although about 3 feet in the middle, about 1 foot on either side the "V" shaped
channel was down to 2 foot, holding the boat by its "shoulders".
That afternoon both crews joined the "Olive Emily" to cruise the 12
miles up to Welches Dam and the junction with the Forty Foot.
However, within 100 yards the boat had twice lifted over silt bars and became
completely stuck 20 yards after the new bridge. In all 10 minutes cruising!. The
boat was then reversed to the turning point and moored overnight at the Sluice.
The following day the "Olive Emily" left the Old Bedford sluice
without problem - until it reached the junction with the tidal Great Ouse - and
became firmly stuck at the same place that "Hillpenny" had been stemmed
up the previous day. Only after an hour and half and with the assistance of
water flushed down from Denver was the "Olive Emily" able to be refloated
and return to Wells Creek via Salter's Lode Lock.
So the EA had tried to enable entry into the Old Bedford - but their
contractors had not dug out those last few cubic metres to give the 7 foot wide
channel and 2 foot depth required.
Tried - but could do better. Let's hope this will occur for the
next attempted cruise in the spring of 2010.