Stopping Over In Maidenhead

We waited for the rain to pass before we moved from Runnymede Meadow. Passing Queen Elizabeth’s bronze statue in commemoration of 800 years of the Magna Carta.

Weather was rather more blustery than I like for boating, and the wind was a bit chilly too at times, but it was still a lovely day.

Passing the now redundant Anglican chapel last used to serve the bargemen on the Thames, though there has been a church on this site since the Norman Conquest, and fabric from a 12th century church can still be found in the building… more information….

Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene

Our first lock of the day was ‘Old Windsor Lock’, which was luckily for us manned. Once through the lock we were on Her Majesty’s turf.

Crown Estate – No Mooring – No Landing

Windsor Castle in the background

Us leaving Boveney Lock

Cormorant waiting for us to pass

Never seen so many trees with mistletoe (outside of France)

We’re a bit disappointed as there doesn’t appear to be many suitable mooring places, there would be more moorings if boaters moored closer to other boats (it would obviously help them too).

We travelled through Romney and Boveney Locks which were manned by very helpful lockies. Though we did stop for sanny services just before Boveney Lock, except we didn’t stop for water as the water point was just below a weir, and as the flow of water was quite strong, we gave topping up with water a miss (after I pleaded with John!). For the next 30 miles, until we get to Mapleduram, the Thames is still on yellow alerts; “Caution Strong Stream Decreasing”

At (our last lock of the day) the un-manned Bray Lock, we had a sticky moment or two. There were two Caversham boats going into the lock before us, as we’ve shared locks with them before we didn’t think there’d be a problem sharing. Not so, Bray lock is much smaller than the other locks we’d passed through, and it was clear there was no room for us. We realised before we got to the gates we had to reverse back onto the lock landing. Great theory, but in practice with the strong flow coming from the weir, Cyan’s bow started to turn in the wrong direction. It was a bit hairy for a few moments, I managed to jump off from the stern with the centre line, and yanked Cyan’s bow back to the lock’s landing, where she got firmly tied. John made fun of me as I’d wrapped the centre line about 10 times around the bollard – Cyan was going nowhere!

We eventually moored, using our ‘new technique’ for mooring, just before ‘Maidenhead Railway Bridge’. The mooring wasn’t at all ‘big dog’ friendly, Rusty had to be encouraged to jump from the boat, over the 2ft mooring platform, and onto a wall. Big dogs have to have ‘landing’ space when they jump. We’d like to move tomorrow for Rusty’s sake, but looking at the weather forecast it’s going to rain all day.

What’s our ‘new technique’ for mooring? Normally when we moor, I jump off the stern with the centre line, holding Cyan steady while John moors Cyan with pins, chains, or bollards. This method doesn’t work on a river, so now I jump from the bow with the bow’s mooring rope, giving us much more control of Cyan, and stopping her bow being pushed out by the river’s flow. I’ve no idea how single handed boaters cope mooring their boat against a river flow, especially with a strong wind blowing.

We’ve travelled 12.25 miles today, and 4 locks.

Runnymede Meadow

The spot where stopped last night was rather posh, going by some of the houses – but that didn’t stop the vandals.

At around 2:30 am, we were woken by a noise; as we were the only boat around, it was a bit disconcerting. The mystery was solved when John stepped off Cyan on his way to taking Rusty for a walk. Someone had dumped a lorry load of rubbish right at the entrance to a lovely woodland walk, and just beside where we were moored. Grrrr! Wished we could have snapped them doing it!

The beautiful Chertsey Bridge

Our first lock of the day was Chertsey Lock. It was manned by two lockies, although one of them was busy cutting the grass. They were really helpful, and generous with advice regarding the area, the lock, weirs, shops, moorings. One rather helpful piece of info, is that the weirs, and the lock’s control unit (he called it a pedestal) are always on the same side.

We were lucky at our next lock, Penton Hook Lock. despite there being no lockie. We managed to sail into a generous place in the lock, while another boater worked the lock.

I’m fascinated with the styles of house boats, this one looks to be fabulous

Love this one with it’s spiral staircase at the back

At our third and last lock of the day, Bell Weir Lock, we found the lock occupied with two boats descending. John climbed up the lock after he’d lashed Cyan’s centre line to a bollard, handing the end of the line to me to steady Cyan in the strong breeze. A very posh cruiser came up behind us, obviously it was going up the lock. There were three men in the boat, but the boat was skipping and jumping on the water in an alarming way. It turns out that two of the men had just bought the boat, and a trainer was teaching them for the day, with Bell Weir Lock being their ‘first’ lock. John joined in with the ‘lesson’ on how to work the locks which was great.

At the top of the lock we called it a day! We moored right next to Runnymede meadow. We might cruise a little further on tomorrow, and have an ‘easy’ day to catch up on domestic stuff.

Today we cruised 5.5 miles, and 3 locks!

Happy St. George’s Day!

Before we left our mooring outside Hampton Court, the ‘Flag of St George’ was erected on the boat hook. Well we were outside an ‘English’ palace, and we are in our capital city, so why not on St George’s Day!

We had a lovely relaxing day yesterday, the weather has been fabulous, and we had a great time soaking up London’s atmosphere.

Our mooring wasn’t far from Molesey Lock, our first lock of the day.  The lock was manned, and the lockie required Cyan to be held both fore and aft with mooring lines over lock bollards to steady her. As soon as we left the lock, we moored by the services to carry out sanny, rubbish, and ‘filling the water tank’ duties.

We cruised for a very ‘windy’ mile, and by Platts Eyot we moored for a short time, while I got ‘granny’s shopping trolley’ out, and dashed to Tesco across from Hurst Park. (Note to self: Must remember to shop according to what I can carry!)

After stashing away the shopping, and drinking a cup of coffee, we pushed off again with St George’s flag flying high. A passing man did say it was nice to see, but some people don’t see the flag the way we do. How sad!

At Sunbury Lock we found the lock unmanned, with the lock doors wide open. John walked up to the lock, where there was a boater who had also just arrived, wanting to go down the lock. This was great as the lock was our first lock on the Thames where we had to work ourselves, and it was good for John to speak to the other boater who had a lot more experience. I steered Cyan into the lock, and steadied her with the centre line on a bollard.

Lots of workmen working on what looks like a floating platform?

We cruised around Desborough Island, and turned right to approach Shepperton Lock. This lock was manned, and we were under strict instruction by the lockie. We had once again to secure both fore and aft with Cyan’s mooring lines, and this time we had to turn off the engine.

We’re now moored at Dockett Eddy, just round the corner from Pharaoh’s Island.

Today we’ve cruised 6 miles, and 3 locks.

Hampton Court

Our plan this morning was to have a nice gentle cruise towards Hampton Court. After a good old English breakfast, we set off from our mooring at Teddington Lock; the weather promised to be brilliant.

It was lovely to see loads of kids having such fun in the water, many of them were under instruction, learning to sail. The river was very busy, with lots of people taking advantage of the weather, and basically having a great time. There were occasions when it got a little ‘hairy’ as boaters turned, or cut in front of us. We weren’t in any hurry, and quite a few of the speedy types overtook us, on BOTH sides (boats overtaking us should be on our left – towards the middle).

Canoes inside the weir at Teddington, having a great time on the ‘white water rapids’!

Stealth boats moored below Kingston Bridge, sure I saw a guy stroking a white cat on one of them?

Our costly learning curve:

At ‘Raven’s Ait we ‘thought’ we’d found a suitable mooring, it was away from the main stream of traffic, and near a path that’s great for dog walking. As soon as we moored, John climbed up the bank (see pic below) but found the angle difficult (because of his bad knee and foot) – I too found it awkward. When John returned from taking Rusty for a brief walk, he said he’d seen a better place to moor where there were steps, and a picnic bench just along from where we were moored. We untied Cyan’s lines, and slowly motored about 50 yards to the ‘better’ mooring. Just as we approached, we heard that horrible scratching sound underneath Cyan as she dragged along the river bottom.

Cheeky crane, treating the water inlet like conveyor belt of food. He kept popping in and out of the ‘drain’. He obviously had worked out an easy way to fish.

Before John could reverse Cyan away from being ground, this huge pleasure boat passed us. I took a snap of it, just before Cyan tipped at a frightening angle, followed by a loud sound of glass and pottery smashing!

Cyan obviously grounded on a ledge of silt, the boat passed causing a fair amount of water to be sucked from under her, and she tipped, making glasses, and crockery fly out of a kitchen cupboard; breaking around 8 glasses, one cereal bowl, and a small plate – it could have been worse!

Hampton Court

We’re moored adjacent to Hampton Court.

Today we’ve cruised just over 4 miles.

Freedom….. at last!

Such a frustrating day, yet it ended absolutely fantastic!

We didn’t sleep much last night; we were on loose mooring lines as it’s tidal above Thames Lock. I thought my idea of looping the centre line around a bollard, feeding the end of the line through the side hatch was a good idea; it meant a quick pull every now again kept Cyan against the bank. It looked like the water rose and dropped about a metre.

A coot on her floating nest! When it’s high water the nest floats level to the ‘tide mark’!

At around 6:30 am the tide was high, and Cyan had risen to the top of the bank. Within half an hour we were dropping down again, so Rusty got a ‘rushed’ early walk (he was trapped like us and couldn’t get off). I cooked John a cheese omelette for breakfast, then I quickly got ready, and took my place on the bank (before Cyan dropped down too far) ready to release mooring ropes for our ‘escape’ through the lock, and onto the Thames. All was going great, and we were ready!

When the lockie approached us, I thought she was going to give us our instructions. Not so… she was full of apologies and said there was no power in the lock, and by the time engineers arrived to mend the problem, we’d miss the tide, and would have to wait for the evening one! What a bummer! Cyan got her loose lines again, including having the centre line (to control her) fed through the side hatch again, and I (not very elegantly) dropped down from the bank back onto Cyan.

Cutting the story of our frustrating day short, we made several phone calls to C&RT to ask what was the problem, with a reply someone would call us back – eventually someone did (at about 4:00 pm) and explained there was an all day staff meeting being held in a Camden hotel (so not a lot of staff was on duty), and that someone would be out to mend the problem shortly. Just as we were giving up ‘hope’ at 5:00 pm a lockie appeared, and he opened the lock gates….. Magic! We quickly prepared Cyan, and John scrambled up the bank to release her lines; he jumped back onto Cyan, and we sailed into the lock.

It appeared the power problem was caused by a workman on a construction site nearby, cutting through a power cable! Just wish C&RT could have kept us informed!

So long C&RT, promise we’ll be back soon!

So this is the ‘Mighty Thames’!

We took a right turn, and headed for Teddington.

We left just after 5:00 pm, high tide (or high water to use the correct term) was due at Brentford around 6:30 pm, which meant we had the ‘tide’ behind us, pushing Cyan on. Cyan appears to just love the deep water!

What a journey we had….

The sunshine certainly makes people more sociable and friendly. Lovely to see everyone enjoying a very pleasant Friday evening.

 

Twickenham Bridge

      

We didn’t need to go through Richmond Lock, as the Thames water was ‘level’ both sides of the lock – this was good as it saved us paying the London Port Authority £8.

Going through Teddington Lock was a breeze, think we only rose (or did we drop?) about a foot. As soon as we moored beyond the lock, John walked back to the lock to pay for our license to the ‘Environment Agency’; paying £182.30 for the month, and £9.50 for our mooring. When our C&RT licence is up at the end of September, we really must get a ‘Gold License’ this time, which will allow us to venture on other rivers and canals:

From C&RT’s website:

“The Gold Licence is for people who wish to spend time cruising on a combination of Canal & River Trust and Environment Agency (EA) navigations. EA navigations include the River Thames, Anglian waterways and River Medway.”