There was no chance of being up late this morning as the planes coming in to land were following Brentford Creek and going virtually overhead.
7-30 am. and we had untied when a boat came from Brentford Basin, the Thames Lock gates were opening so I told him to go ahead and we slid in beside him. The Lock Keeper said the tide wasn’t up enough yet, so not enough water below the lock, it would be just a few more minutes so the boat next to me tied off his stern line after taking a turn round the bollard. He then proceeded to delve into his weed hatch. The lock gates closed behind us, so I called to him the gates are closed we are now going down. He continued pulling polly off his prop. I shouted even louder the paddles are going up, you are still tied off. He sort of looked so with more urgency, we are going down, you are tied up. with that he got up and tried to undo the rope which was jammed hard. At that point I blasted my horn and the lock keeper dropped the paddles and came out from his control cabin to see what was wrong, the back wash was sufficient to loosen the rope and he could undo it. We carried on locking and dropped about 4 foot so what would have happened if he had been alone I don’t know.
We left the lock and made our way to the Thames, it was a lovely sunny still morning and we soon turned onto the Thames. The entrance to Bretford is easier to find now from the river as they have erected this sculpture since we were last this way. We turned sharp right up the Thames and immediately our speed picked up by over 1½ miles an hour, however it didn’t last long before dropping back down, as we approached the Richmond Barrier which was still dripping the speed picked up again and stayed like it all the way to Teddington Lock. On our way we passed a family of Cormorants enjoying the morning sun. We didn’t meet another boat until we were approaching Teddington Lock where the first batch of cruisers had just left the lock and we had to wait for the second batch, by now we had a third Narrowboat following us. All three of us required Visitor Licences and the lock keeper said to moor above the blue bridge and walk back when we were ready. When we left the lock there was a long queue of cruisers coming down to lock out, so once out of the lock I gave two blasts on the horn to cut through the queue. The boats were heading down to both of Teddington Locks for a good half an hour and yesterday 100 locked down. There is an event at West India Dock this weekend. I walked back to get the licence and the EA chap asked if I would mind coming when they had all gone. Following all the cruisers there was the Yarmouth Belle going down, I think its wonderful that a 6” wide paddle hardly touching the water can propel such a large craft and the boiler burns so clean as well. Once I had parted with £61 for a weeks licence we were on our way.
Things are so much bigger on the Thames, the size of the waterway and the size of the groups of young canoeists.
I had heard the lock keeper at Teddington on the phone about a swimmer on the river, we met one by these canoes well to the other side of the river swimming between a Stand Up Paddle Board and a small support boat, later we would meet another one by himself just towing an orange buoy.
Something you don’t often see is a concrete Narrowboat, I don’t know how many still exist but this one has seen better days. Mike on Victoria loading with coal on one of the hottest days of the year and its all manual work.
As we approached Molesey lock there was bit of a race for the lock, this cruiser overtaking me in the bridge with a trip boat coming down stream. We still got in the lock with them and the hire boat who went past us all and just shot straight into the lock second. Once in they didn’t have a clue what to do, gave the lock keeper the fenders to hold when he asked for ropes, at the next lock which we didn’t get to with them they weren’t doing much better.
Just above Sunbury Lock we saw an old friend with a new boat. Sue on No Problem XL unfortunately we only have a week to get to Oxford so stopping so early in the day was out of the question.
The Environment Agency or Thames Water have quite a large construction project going upgrading the water intake at what was once the Metropolitan Water Board inlet near the end of Desborough Channel, at the other end this lad was showing off the the girls by jumping in from the road bridge.
We had our eye on a 24 hour mooring at Laleham, most of the short term moorings we have passed have been empty. When we arrived there was a wide beam at the far end, an old Humber Keel called Daybreak, one of the few still capable of sailing and a cruiser in the middle of a gap. I was going to draw back to the end and just tag on with a bow and centre line, but the cruiser owner shot out and offered to move back which gave us loads of room to moor under a large willow tree that is providing lots of shade.
19½ miles and 6 locks in 6¼hours