For a long time it’s been a goal of mine to bring a boat to Cambridge. I researched the rivers and locks years ago, but had given up the idea until I saw how Roger Taylor sailed the oceans on a shallow draft boat. I’ve now achieved my goal with Tammy Norie.
I wrote about the plans two weeks ago, but strong westerly winds prevented me from leaving Wells-next-the-sea. I was finally able to escape on Monday, sailing to King’s Lynn. On Tuesday morning I motored up the Great Ouse river and entered the inland waterways at the Denver Lock Complex, reaching Littleport at about 13:00 before taking the train home (and getting some work done). The following afternoon I returned to Littleport with my friend Gareth and we set off at 16:00, passing Ely, visiting an old friend for fish and chips on a narrowboat at the Cambridge County Polo Club, traversing the Bottisham and Baits Bite locks in the dark, and finally pulling up at the Fort Saint George pub, less than 200m from my house, at midnight.
On Thursday the Cambridge University Yacht Club held a social meeting at the Fort Saint George, and many friends got to see Tammy for the first time. I also discovered that if six people sit in the cockpit, the drains back up and their feet get wet!
With CUYC friends at the Fort Saint George
I don’t have time to write up many details at the moment, as I’m travelling shortly, but here’s Tammy Norie next to the Fort Saint George.
I’ll write up the interesting approach to King’s Lynn on my return.
Part of my early summer plan was to get Tammy Norie in a position to reach my home town of Cambridge. I live quite close to the river, and with a bit of care I might be able to get my boat and house into the same photograph! The visitor moorings in Cambridge are right next to the Fort Saint George pub, where the Cambridge University Yacht Club hold “socials”, so with a bit of care Tammy could be right there for everyone to visit.
It turns out I won’t need a Boat Safety Scheme certificate issued by an inspector if I’m just a visitor to the river system. I do have to check that I comply with the scheme, but I’m allowed to self-certify. That will save quite a bit of time and expense. I’ve read the checking procedures carefully and the only significant thing is Tammy Norie’s gas locker, which does not currently drain overboard and is made of wood. I can fit a drain from the locker and reinforce it with fibre glass to comply. That could be a job for this weekend. Most of the rest of the issues concern sticking up labels indicating where things like fire extinguishers and gas shut-off valves are.
I’ve spoken with the Environment Agency on the phone and they told me I can just buy a visitors licence at the first lock on the river and the process would only take a couple of hours. So no need for me to fill in forms, post cheques, and wait a week. I can just go. I had an email conversation some time ago about whether Tammy Norie would have to pay power boat charges, and they concluded that she was a sailing boat, so a seven day visitor licence is only £8.94. The licence for the river Cam is an extra 5% of an annual licence, so that’s £2.46. So it looks like the cost of visiting is quite trivial.
The Environment Agency has a lot of information to help boaters, including lists of bridge heights. They say there are a lot of free moorings with 48-hour stays on an excellent map and guide to the Great Ouse.
So, the first step will be to return to Tammy Norie at Wells-next-the-sea, fix up the gas locker, label a bunch of things, and sail her at least as far as Kings Lynn, thought the Environment Agency river system starts at the Heron Pub at Stowbridge, which also has moorings. Most of the towns on the route are also on the Cambridge to Kings Lynn railway line, so I should be able to be pretty flexible about how I move her to Cambridge while getting some work done, though I shall consult my friend Gareth about taking my bike on board and cycling to and from stations.
Quite different from dashing around Norfolk to avoid a gale on the nose!
I bought an inflatable sea kayak to be Tammy Norie’s tender, partly because it’ll be so much fun in its own right. It arrived today at the office and I used it to commute home from Stourbridge Common to Trafalgar Road, stopping at the Fort Saint George for Pimm’s with Rebecca, naturally.
The kayak is a Sea Eagle SE330 Pro. I’m pretty sure I sold a couple to people on the river. I ought to get rebate!
Thanks to Gareth Rees for being cameraman for the unboxing.
Incidentally, the sound in the second part of this video shows exactly why I didn’t buy a GoPro but instead a Panasonic HX-WA30. (Panasonic’s marketing department needs to learn a bit about catchy names, though.) You can find out more about this in The sound of sailing – part 2 where Dylan Winter, a professional cameraman, explains the choice.