Monday, 7 May 2012


So, after twelve months of work including six months of building, Skylark finally slid into the water. In fact, today we realised that it was exactly this week last year that we walked along the quay at Ely starting our search for a boat and came across Mick and Gena selling their new nb Midnight (see my first post - In the Beginning). So, by the end of Saturday, 28 April it was with great sense of satisfaction and contentment that we found ourselves sitting inside Skylark next to the quay at Ely. So how did the launch go? We had a few things to sort out before we could go to West Row so we didn’t arrive there until 11.30am only to find Skylark had already gone. Apparently the transport had turned up uncharacteristically early and taken her off to Popes Corner Marina on the junction of The Great Ouse and the Cam. So, without any delay we rushed over to meet her (if you can rush in an elderly Land Rover). As we neared Popes Corner we saw the rather odd sight of Skylark resting on the back of the lorry in a lay-by. The driver said he was waiting for the crane to arrive from ‘up country’ so it could go on site first in case of any problems. As it was at least an hour away, we realised we couldn’t do any more but wait. Just then Mick turned up and we decided to drive down to Lazy Otter, where our mooring awaited us, and have a coffee in the adjoining pub. When we got back to Popes Corner, Skylark was next to the quay being prepared for her entrance into the watery world of the Fens. After a few tentative lifts to make sure she kept level, the crane took the strain and swung her over the water. Slowly she was let down to gently rest on the surface. The strops were removed and an inspection was made to ensure she was sitting level. The water came up to her cavitation plate, which, with a half full fuel tank was about right. She also sat level laterally, which was good. The crane driver called over to us, ‘She’s fourteen and a half tons’. So, with the bare hull weighing in at about 8 tons, there’s about six and a half tons of ballast, timber, fixtures and fittings. 28 April 2012 019 28 April 2012 020 28 April 2012 032 28 April 2012 039 28 April 2012 035 28 April 2012 042  With success brimming over, we cracked a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale over her bows (‘poured a few drops’ would be a better description) and, with Mick at the helm, we set off into the Cam and then turned left into the Old West River. In 40 minutes we arrived at Lazy Otter and set about transferring all our stuff from the Land Rover. Everything went well and, after a busy day, we decided to turn in, but with all the excitement we couldn’t get to sleep until 9.30pm. 28 April 2012 077 28 April 2012 080 Sunday was one of the wettest and windiest days of late so we stayed put, getting things in order, and saying hello to the other boaters next door. By 6.00pm the weather cleared so we slipped our moorings and took a trip back up to Popes Corner. This was a short but very pleasurable trip in the pale evening sunshine. We slowly travelled through one of the most attractive landscapes in Cambridgeshire, passing the Stretham Pump House and numerous birds including herons and owls. We didn’t see lots of people because its so rural but many of the people we did se were boaters who said they had seen us go in the water the day before. They wished us luck and all seemed very nice – a good welcome. On our return to Lazy Otter, we popped into the pub (of the same name), had a pint of the local brew and then turned in for the night.

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