After lowering the mast we set off from Goole late on Sunday morning with just Sally and I aboard. This stretch of both the Aire and Calder and the whole of the New Junction canal are very straight, passing across areas of flat farmland. However there are some very impressive examples of canal engineering with several aquaducts where the canal passes over both natural rivers and man made drainage ditches.
Steve and his grandson Keenan had very kindly offered to help us through the numerous swing and lift bridges on this stretch of canal. Having someone ashore doing this makes life much easier, as you don’t have to keep mooring up to get someone ashore to operate the bridge, and then again to pick them up on the other side.
Although the canal is generally wide and deep, there are narrow sections when passing through the aquaducts and bridges. I constantly marvel at how they manage to manoeuvre the 650 ton Humber Princess along the canal, given she is over 60 metres long and 6 metres wide.
As it is still early in the year there were very few other boats on the move and we only saw a couple of narrow boats. We saw several buzzards as well as kestrels and a red kite.
We had lunch on the move and with Steve and Keenan’s help we arrived in Stainforth by late afternoon. We moored alongside Mike and Sue’s Vulcan, where we will be staying until we move down to the dry dock in Thorne.
We had a visit from George Cunnningham, who worked as a fitter with Hanley’s from 1948 until when the mill closed down in the 1960s. He remembered Daybreak very well, along with her sister ship Danum and Hanley’s Pride. Although he was based in the workshop, looking after the trucks as well as the barges, he took every opportunity for a trip down the Humber to Hull and back. At 86 years old George managed to clamber aboard through the safety rails on Room 58, alongside which we are moored. He had lots of memories and stories, including a rather hair raising account of being moored in the old harbour when very heavy rainfall higher up the river led to a flood pouring down the river Hull, bringing with it tree trunks and other debris. In the middle of the night George heard the skipper shouting for him as he disappeared up the ladder in his stocking feet. When they got on deck they saw that one of the ropes had come loose and the ship was veering out into the river. Fortunately the skipper was able to hook a new rope on as Daybreak swung back. Once all was secure they went back below and talked about what would have happened if the other rope had broken and they had been swept out into the Humber.
Another good story was about when Daybreak had been laid up empty alongside Hanley’s mill and she had become infested with rats attracted by the remnants of grain in the hold. They knew a chap with a jack russel and they put the dog in the hold where he caught and killed 36 rats. Fortunately we have not had any repeat visits from rats while we have had Daybreak.
Many thanks to Alan Hodgkinson from Strawberrry Island who brought George over to see the ship. As he was leaving he told us George would be talking about his visit for months to come.