Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Early morning cruising

Monday 29th August to Tuesday 30th August 2016

Having decided earlier this year that we would spend another year in/around/near London and in particular cruising more of the Thames it had made sense to do it properly – hence we (meaning me) had done the VHF Operators course and we had purchased a VHF radio (Receiver/transmitter) and now we had booked our passage to leave Limehouse and go all the way to Teddington.
We always love seeing Limehouse Basin in the early morning light
We were due out at 8:45am – Diane had wanted an early morning cruise – this was as early as we could get at this time – her reasoning was that there would be far less river traffic if the tourists weren’t awake yet.
Also in our favour were the light to very light winds forecast for the morning.

So after seeing two other boats head out at 8:00 am bound for Brentford, we did the final part of the preparation – start the engine and cast off – into the lock we went, following Dutch Barge Dorchester.
Final instructions from the lockkeeper; lower the water level; and open the gates.
There she is - nice a flat, just how we want it to be

ready in the lock...

...gates open...

..off we go

We had done this voyage last year and whilst we enjoyed it we didn’t get to appreciate it all, so now we were definitely ready to do just that.

Heading out was less rocky: the river was dead flat; Diane had done her research and there were no other craft about.

We had a chance to enjoy – not even the appearance of a tug dragging a barge of empty containers or the clipper close behind upset the equilibrium – they were about the only craft we saw for the first hour of the journey.
just such a beautiful day to be out

I never tire of seeing my lovely wife

Some London landmarks - this one unfortunately
isn't finished yet - still the top to go...

...and the curved one - I think it is called The Penis

Tower Bridge

The toll office for Tower Bridge - oops, no, this is the Tower of London

The air was clear and cool; the sun was now up but not too high; the whole experience was totally different; were we enjoying it – absolutely.
We had the chance to just relax and see everything around us.
Approaching the Houses of  Parliament

This used to be Boris' office -  now it is Sadiq Khan's - the Lord Mayor of London

Nearing Westminster Bridge, we had called Dot and Gordon, who had come down to get pictures of us (and for us), with the Houses of Parliament as a backdrop.
That's us in front of the HoP (courtesy of Dot Campbell)

(courtesy of Dot Campbell)

(courtesy of Dot Campbell)
and there she is - that is Gordon on the left and Dot on the right (she is a bit
camera shy)

Further along, there was no need to be as snap-happy as we were last year – didn’t have to photograph everything – we sat and enjoyed – even had time to make a cuppa and some breakfast on the run.

Diane took her turn at the tiller; no problems or worries for her – she is such a good boatperson and now able to do it all.
The channel for Brentford - the statue is the marker to look out for

up closer

Approaching Brentford channel we could see things we hadn’t seen before, and then the journey to Teddington was relatively uneventful – that is if you discount the canoeists who wanted to take up half of the river (just needed to let them know we were coming); the family in the row-boat who were seemingly using it like a 12m yacht and changing course at each stroke; finally the large cruiser who decided that they wanted desperately to pass and did so in a narrow section with a trip boat coming the other way (damned fools), cutting in just in front to avoid a collision – we could see what was going to happen and knew we were in no danger at all – it just shows that there are still those out there who have no idea about using the waterways with others in mind.

Anyway we arrived at Teddington, last in line of the flotilla of boats, so we waited to the lock to re-empty and then we were through.

Have to say that the idea of not speeding and creating a wash in the lock cutting seems to have been forgotten by all of the cruisers who came out of the lock with us – we knew that they were all speeding to get to Kingston and beyond and find suitable mooring spots.

We were steadily moving – no point in rushing – finally making it to Kingston and yes, the cruisers were all vying for some choice locations that were empty; we couldn’t do anything about it – we headed towards the moorings for Hampton Court Park in Kingston.
There was one space that we could see, but from where we were it looked too small – funnily it got bigger as we got closer – Diane was on the bow and I on the stern checking it out, slowly inching forward – the stern cleared the boat behind before the bow reached the one in front – in we went with a few feet spare at each end – luvvly jubbly.

All moored up and settled; a few minutes later a narrowboat approached from upstream looking for a mooring but there were none left.

Diane, knowing it was Monday, suggested a lunch at The Slug and Lettice (this was a 50% off food establishment), so we enjoyed a relaxing repast.

Back to boat – I still had work to do – Diane had a chair to hold down and papers to read (oh and she also had some relaxing to do).

We didn’t achieve much later in the evening and I headed off to bed about 10pm, leaving Diane to look after some recording on the television – I was knackered – we had done 22 miles today and coupled with the long day on Sunday, it had caught up – didn’t let the head hit the pillow.

Tuesday morning and Diane informed me that Sue and Vic (No Problem XL) were moored just at the end of the line of boats where we were – we had not seen them, but then we hadn’t ventured that way; Sue had told Diane that when she walked the dogs, she had not seen us when she passed by (easy to explain that one – the height of the vegetation on the lower bank actually hid the boat from view).

Anyway we caught up for a cuppa mid-morning and had a good chat about any number of things –it was just on 8 weeks since we had last seen them.
It was much of the usual things that we talked about; Diane took Sue off to see the inside of Ferndale – Sue hadn’t seen it since we had bought it from Dot and Derek, so a few changes to have a look at.
Vic and I just left them to have a look – we looked after the chairs.
The two girls exchanged some things between the boats – a magazine rack came our way and a crotched blanket for the bed and some hand towels found a new home on No Problem XL – things that we would have had to leave on the boat at some time in the future when we decide to sell her.
Diane, Vic and Sue - what a great way to spend the morning
After more than a couple of hours it all of a sudden was lunch time – Sue and Vic needed to get ready to leave for their trip from Teddington down to Brentford; Diane wanted to see the inside of the Chinese restaurant again. So we said goodbye, we headed back to head out again.

After lunch it was back to the boat – me to work and Diane to read the papers – there seems to be a pattern developing here – it ain’t gonna happen for a third day (or will it?).

22 Miles, 2 Locks
YTD:  552 Miles (888 km) , 340 Locks, 4 Tunnels, 14 Lift Bridges, 3 Swing Bridges

Total: 4347 Miles (6996 km), 3039 Locks, 116 Tunnels, 59 Lift Bridges, 170 Swing Bridges

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