Prepping For The Thames

After a really soggy Sunday and Monday, we were pleased to move on this morning. The place where we were moored was very secluded, but it was quite busy on Saturday with walkers, and joggers enjoying the ‘Spring-like’ weather, plus there was a half marathon involving the towpath. Sunday and Monday when we had heavy rain, we felt we were the ‘only people left in the world’. With all the rain, the towpath became horribly muddy. But despite the grey and wet day, the birds were busy singing, and the sounds they made, especially at 5:30 in the morning was fabulous – just wish I could identify the birds singing (this needs to be corrected).

We were moored not far from Denham Deep Lock, our first lock of the day. Though it wasn’t raining, it was pretty miserable weather, and we wondered where our Spring had gone.  It didn’t help our mood when the lock gates were stubborn, and it needed both of us to push the gates open. As soon as Cyan was in the lock, a small ‘working’ boat with two strong guys appeared, and joined us in the lock. We worked the next lock together.

At the bottom of the Uxbridge Lock, the little boat left us as we’d planned to top up with diesel, and visit the chandlers in Denham Marina. But… we couldn’t moor anywhere!  Never mind we thought, we’ll stop at Uxbridge Boat Centre’s chandlery. We need a chandlers to buy either a recharger set for John’s life jacket, or buy a new one before we hit the Thames. A few months ago I ‘exploded’ John’s life jacket when I got the toggle caught in the cabin doors as I went ‘below’.

At Uxbridge Boat Centre, the same thing happened, we couldn’t moor.

Approaching Cowley Lock, we dumped our rubbish. What a mess the rubbish area was. Basically all we could do was to lob our rubbish over the fence! Obviously we’d have loved to have used the bins, but they were full, with piles of rubbish stacked on top.

We sailed under the bridge, to use the sanny and top up with water. The lock was in front of us, with two lockies in attendance (our first lockies this year).  As we approached they opened the gates for us. Must admit I felt guilty ignoring their help while we moored at the Sanny Station; when we had a minute I legged it to the lock, to thank the lockies, and to explain we needed water.

While waiting for the water tank to fill, a C&RT guy recorded Cyan’s number on his tablet. John took the opportunity to mention the mess at the rubbish area. Basically the guy said; “You’re in the middle of a rough part of the canal, and that is the  ‘norm’!” (He didn’t really say ‘rough’ he used another word.)

The water tap was running so slow, by the time we’d topped up, the lockies had locked two other boats down the locks, and had again set the locks for us.

We moored just after the lock.

When we were settled John phoned ‘High Line Yachting Chandlery’ which isn’t far from where we’re moored (didn’t want to chance not being able to moor near their premises), to enquire about recharger sets. It appears they don’t stock them, but they do have new life jackets in stock. They could order us a recharger set, but it would cost about £35 – an amazing amount.

In the end we ordered two new life jackets (for us both) from ebay, to be delivered to Cowley Argos store which is next to the canal, just after ‘Packet Boat Marina’ by the Slough Arm. Delivery is expected on Friday, as with 2 other items we ordered: ‘River Thames Book’ by Chris Cove-Smith, and a set of digital bathroom scales (yes, this has to be done!).

So again we’re ‘playing for time’, but that doesn’t matter because the Thames is still on ‘Red’. We did get a bit excited yesterday, when Teddington Lock went ‘yellow’. Unfortunately it went red again this morning.

Over the weekend we’ve been preparing for our journey on the Thames. John gave Cyan’s engine an ‘oil change’, while I dug out our summer gear (ever the optimist!). Did anyone else hear the BBC weatherman say that Spring arrives next week? I’m certain I heard him say those long awaited words!

Our anchor was retrieved from inside the bowels of the bow. Which set us off researching how best to use it. It’s highly sensible to find out now, rather than wait until we’re in a pickle! Our research didn’t come up with anything clear.

Therefore, John wrote to Steve Vaughan at Willow Wren Training asking for advice. We both took a ‘RYA Inland Waterways Helmsman Two Day Course’ with Willow Wren when we first ‘took to the water’. The course has been invaluable to us, and would thoroughly recommend it.

John wrote:

  1. “We have a river anchor, it came as part of the boat’s equipment. Can you give guidance as to how and where it should be connected and carried on board?”
  2. “In the event of needing to secure the vessel, how best to deploy the anchor?”

Steve promptly wrote back:

“As with a lot of aspects of boating this is another grey area but let me tell you what I can to help.

A Danforth anchor should have a chain connected nearest to the anchor and then a rope from the end of the chain to the boat. Strictly speaking, the rope should be connected to its own fixed anchor point on the boat but most people don’t have one so they connect it to the normal mooring “T” stud at the bow or the stern dolly aft.  This isn’t totally safe because the T stud and dollies are really only strong enough for mooring but if it is all you have then it is better than nothing. The options are that you have a proper anchorage fitted or you look for the most secure point on your boat and connect the line to that. It is best to use proper shackles not just a loop of rope that can be cut through under pressure. Knots by the way, actually reduce the breaking strain of a rope.

Ref Deployment:

The anchor should be positioned upstream. I.e., if you are going up river then it needs to be tied on at the bow, going downstream and it should be at the stern. However, if you are on your own and can’t get to the bow to throw it over the side then it is best kept at the stern. If you are on tidal waters, as with the Thames below Teddington, then you will be going with the tide so although you are going upstream, it is best kept at the stern. Unless you are in really slack water, if you have an engine problem then don’t waste time trying to fix it, just put the anchor over the side to secure the boat then look for the fault.

Unlike sea going craft where the anchor is used to secure the boat every day, when it is used in an emergency on a narrowboat it is usually “single use only” and it is left behind on recovery. The last thing you will be thinking about when you are rescued is trying to get the anchor out of the river bed.

There are many other elements to consider but don’t let this spook you. Providing you are not trying to cruise on flood conditions you shouldn’t have a problem with a standard narrowboat anchor setup.

One other thing I should mention, have you checked your insurance covers you for tidal waters? Some don’t but if you speak to them they are usually okay with Brentford to Teddington. If it is Limehouse then they might impose extra conditions such as a second bilge pump, nav lights or life jackets which you already have.

More info can be found at:

https://www.thefitoutpontoon.co.uk/external-equipment/anchors/

http://www.waterwaysworld.com/questionspost.cgi?post=39

Hope that helps.”

Great advice – Thank You Steve! Absolute Top Man!

Today we’ve travelled 2.75 miles, and 3 locks.

2 thoughts on “Prepping For The Thames

  1. With all this time to kill, you could practice a skill useful for the Thames Locks. Throwing a rope loop over a bollard that is several feet above you! Took me most of the River to get half decent at it.

    • Ha ha…. maybe we should welcome the Thames being high, it won’t be as far to pitch the loop lol.
      Sounds like we’re in for some ‘fun’ 🙂 Jen

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