The club had been contacted informally to see if any members of Broken Cross Boat Club would be willing to support the event. It was due to open on 14 th May when we had a River Weaver Barbeque planned for our members. Our committee discussed amalgamating the Opening of the Winsford Marina with our event and having a BCBC barbeque on the Island at Winsford on the Saturday night. It seemed an excellent plan, then the date was changed to 30 th April for the opening. We felt we couldn’t change the date of our BCBC barbeque and bring it forward as we had already informed members in our social calendar.
This is an excerpt from our boat log for the Marina Opening Weekend.
Gordon and I got to our boat after lunch on Thursday. It was very windy with hail and rain. The two swans in our marina paraded their five brand new cygnets for us. They were very proud parents with lots of hissing to make sure we knew not to go too near. We waved goodbye to Helen and Dave as they set off for Anderton Lift in the afternoon, the sun was shining for them, it didn’t last long.
Friday. We left the marina at 10.05 and proceeded to the Lift. Raining hard and cold. Full waterproofs on, and thermals underneath. We were booked on the 10.45 lift and down on the Weaver by 11.10. It’s half an hour to Hunts Lock, still raining and we were greeted by the lock keeper with the warning that the river might go into flood. If so the Lift would not operate so we were asked to ring the following morning to see what the state of the river was and whether the sluices into the Mersey had reduced the height of the river. More importantly whether the official procession would be taking place.
As we left Hunts Lock we had torrential rain with hail coming down in stair rods. Gordon made the mistake of opening his mouth and getting crunchy hail stones in it. Absolutely horrid. We arrived at Vale Royal moorings at 1.35pm. The boats already there were, Calypso, Cheshire Cat, Keeping Up Too, Lyndsey Jane, Dreamsong 2, Dream of Avalon and we saw Blue Rover and Jemsabi arrive later.
We got into the warmth of the boat and we both fell fast asleep as our gear started to dry out. Then the sun came out! Too cold for the barbeque we had planned.
Saturday. Contacted the lock keeper, all was well and the river height was falling. We informed the rest of the boats at Vale Royal. We discovered that Vic in Lyndsey Jane was suffering from an abscess on his tooth and that he needed to get back for medical attention. They waved us off as we left our mooring at noon and we all duly congregated outside of Vale Royal Lock for the official party. Once the lock opened and everyone came out, everything became very confused. Jim ordered us to follow him, so set off at ‘Jim speed’ and soon left everyone behind. We arrived in Winsford and turned in the marina, we couldn’t get alongside due to silting.
I jumped ashore to help pull the boat in and as the decking was wet and covered in algae the next thing I knew was I was getting a good view of the clouds in the sky.
Not a happy bunny and still have the bruises to show for it but modesty prevents me. Unable to moor to Jim’s specification as Harbour Master but eventually alongside. Dream of Avalon and Keeping up Too breasted alongside us. Then there was a long delay with the announcer on the island repeatedly saying that Tim would be along soon. It turns out that Nigel in Potential was taking photographs of every boat in the parade as they passed but hadn’t realised that as they passed their wash was pushing him further into the mud.
Three boats had attempted to pull him free but that pirate of the waterways, Dave Newall came up, shouted to Tim to throw him a rope and with the weight of Dreamsong and the power of it’s engine, pulled him off first try, well done Dave. Everyone then made it to Winsford. The officials disembarked gingerly and went to the Island. The council had made a good show of the event, with stalls, Morris dancing and Maypole dancing. The marina area and island is looking good, it’s just a shame that for boaters the marina is too shallow and the walk ways are lethal. But it looks good. It was difficult to understand what Tim said on the island but when he gave a speech in the Red Lion it was much more understandable and appreciated. Our gang of seven, Blue Rover stopping off at the Red Lion for the night after we had extricated him from the mooring, all left at four o’clock to make the New Bridge at 5 o’clock when CRT were due to open it. With the height of the river we were not sure if we needed it, however all but one got underneath.
We moored up again at the Vale Royal Moorings, Keeping up Too invited us alongside as it had been decided that it was officially Friday again and we were having a barbeque. The weather was nice and a barbeque was had.
Sunday. We had received a call from the Anderton Lift asking us to go up earlier at 12.10 as they were having problems. We got the first lock at 9.30am and went up with Colin Edmunson’s boat and Calypso. Even dawdling we make it by 11.20 at the Lift. They asked us to go in first as a plastic boat was going behind us, but as Windharp was already in the caisson a bit of manoeuvring was needed. We overhung the front of the caisson and I had to hold the boat whilst we ascended and then at the top we had to shift about a bit so that the guillotine could rise. Interesting lift up but very grateful to be on The Trent and Mersey as only one caisson was working. The booking office stopped booking, people who hadn’t booked were going up and those who had booked had their slots cancelled. The lift then stopped completely on Wednesday and to my knowledge the last of our boats got up on Thursday afternoon.
The gang of nine were Blue Rover, Calypso, Celtic Dawn, Cheshire Cat, Dream of Avalon, Dreamsong 2, Jemsabi, Keeping Up Too and Lyndsey Jane. Those in the official party were L’arc en Ciel, Midnight, Tess 1 and Windharp.
Note. The press reported that 16 narrow boats supported the event, so well done BCBC for the support shown and given.