Tomorrow morning we have to get up before dawn has even cracked and prepare ourselves for our big sea shortcut. (I mean adventure. Three weeks or so ago, we realised that a big lock on the Trent was kaput and instead of kicking our heels until mid May we scurried off down the Leicester section, along the Nene and towards the Wash.) On our Wash Eve, I’m sitting here wondering why I’m not feeling more nervous about taking Felucca onto the sea.
It’s not like the boat was built for sea water after all. And it’s definitely true that the weather’s not been kind to us recently: unexpected downpours, gale force winds, erratic temperatures. Sometimes it’s been a bit like a hammed up scene from some terrible, omen-dripping, Shakespeare-referencing Radio 4 afternoon play. As if there’s someone up above who heard about our plans to cross the Wash, strongly disapproved of combining narrowboats with seawater, and wanted to signal said disapproval through the medium of weather. On Saturday, we took the boat from Peterborough to Dog in a Doublet Lock – the point where the Nene turns tidal – and we ran into the most horrific squall I’ve ever come across. Totally soaked. Wind and rain lashed into us, past us and into the boat, leaving the floor dripping. And then on Sunday, after spending the night in the lock (a weird yet excellent experience), we took the boat down the tidal stretch of river to Wisbech – in pretty bloody dismal winds.
But I don’t care. Don’t tell anyone (I have a reputation for wussiness that I like to maintain) but I’m secretly quite excited. The forecast is good. We’ve done our prep. And we’ve joined a natty little convoy of Fen-based narrowboats, so tomorrow morning our pilot Daryl will lead out Acacia, Felucca, Sorted, Venice and Witchboy and we will point our noses in the direction of Boston and hope for the best. Bring it on! And goodnight; I’m off for my forty winks.