Friday, 29 August 2008

Up the Tidal Thames

We were booked to lock out of Limehouse at 0715 on Tuesday morning. The plan was to have an early night so that we would be bright and breezy for the trip down the Thames. However we had Giles and Emma joining us for the run down and in typical offspring fashion they decided to attend a concert on the Monday evening......but they wouldn't be late in!!!!! I think it was 0130 when they rolled in, consequently none of us had a lot of sleep....the best laid plans etc.....

We had had a briefing the day before which did include asking if we had a VHF radio. We were able to reply in the affirmative but the other boat at the briefing said no and the lock keeper was not really fussed. So much for saying that all boats over 45ft must carry VHF. We also discovered that although you can call London VTS on leaving limehouse it is not mandatory. In fact if you do call you then have to call in at Brentford or Teddington when you probably would not get contact and would have to use your mobile anyway. We therefore did not bother and although we kept a listening watch on Ch 14 we heard very little and what we did hear was difficult to decipher. Any traffic that was around we could see anyway so I think we had an unnecessary expense. In the event of an emergency when you are recommended to call London VTS immediately they tell you to call on Ch 14 or their landline, so your mobile is still a better (and cheaper) bet.

Off we go

We duly locked out about 7.20, and were pleased to see that a large towing vessel had passed the entrance just before we left.

The river was certainly a little choppy and there was more traffic at that time of the morning than we had anticipated, however Petroc seemed to take it all in her stride. With some of the passing vessels we did get a much larger amount of wash than we had experienced before.

Approaching Tower Bridge

Approaching the Houses of Parliament Thames Clipper docking on right.

Thames Clipper

There we quite a few of the Thames clippers around who seemed to be taking commuters to work. Since we had taken a trip on one on Monday we knew their procedure for docking which is very fast and slick. Inevitably as we came up to several of the piers there was one either docking or leaving. They took us in their stride however and if we were in the way they just reversed off and set off behind us.......very obliging.

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

Big Ben was striking 8am just as we went past. There is an exclusion zone right in front to stop invaders!! It is well marked by yellow buoys so there was no danger of us straying.

Rubbish Collection

The river after Battersea Bridge became much smoother, and also the traffic was much lighter and it was more like the Thames we had experienced further upstream.
We reached Thames Lock at Brentford just before 0945, a run of 2 1/2 hours. We had been anticipating this part of the trip for so long and now it was somewhat of an anticlimax.
Although we had not been blessed with sunshine, it had not rained on us and the wind had not been too strong....what more can one ask for in an English summer??

Thames Lock, Brentford

So the London Ring had been completed. We had first locked through Brentford on 7th August, 19 days earlier. During that time we have explored the Lee and Stort Navigations and had extended stays in Paddington Basin and Limehouse. During both those stays London has been quite well explored especially by Geoff, although I participated in most of the exploring from Limehouse.
After watering etc at Brentford we continued up the 10 locks to Bulls Bridge Junction with our extra crew on board. After one lock Giles decided it was all too slow for him and he would miss a 1530 appointment, so having looked at the map decided to jump ship as he thought we were close to a station. (Later we found out that he became thoroughly lost!!) By then another boat had caught up with us so we had company and the extra crew of Emma. She was flagging by then after her late night, so when Giles jumped ship and she had to work she was somewhat dismayed!!!
We stopped to shop at Tesco's at Bulls Bridge before turning down the Paddington arm. The destination was the Black Horse at Greenford where we expected to be reunited with shipmate Ellie.
Emma and I spent Wednesday and Thursday at Giles and Susannah's new house doing some gardening. At 7 months pregnant Susannah cannot do much heavy work. We returned to Petroc on Thursday to find not only Ellie in residence but Parga also. The cats are not quite settled in at Giles and Susannah's so we have him for the next few was Geoff's idea!!
Today Thursday was our first day cruising with both dogs and so far he has been reasonably well behaved. He has accompanied Geoff at the locks and refrained from jumping in. However he likes to lie at Geoff's feet whilst he is steering which is not the ideal place.
We have moored just north of Uxbridge Lock in reasonably pleasant surroundings. The banks are lined with live aboards around here so we were not sure what we would find.

No comments: