We spent a nervous couple of hours waiting for our timed entry to the Thames. In that time, we checked the engine and removed a pile of London's rubbish from the weedhatch. We also packed away anything breakable, as we could be in for a bumpy ride. An expanded crew assembled: as well as Brian and Mike who've been staying for a few days, we were joined by Nigel, one of the co-owners of Debdale. A colleague of mine, Peter, also arrived to take photos of us as we went onto the Thames. His plan was then to race us to Tower Bridge to get more photos there.
On schedule at 3.15, Limehouse Lock opened and the green light came on. We went into the lock, roped onto the risers, and the gates closed behind us. The water is let out by opening the bottom gates a fraction, and we were soon going down. At the same time, I radioed London VTS to tell them that we were about to go onto the tideway. When the lock gates open, the lock cut looks huge. I sounded a long blast on the horn as we headed out to the river. Adrian signalled that there was no traffic coming, and out we went; Briar Rose turned right without any steering from me: the tide just takes you.
As we approached Tower Bridge, the water was surprisingly calm; later in the trip it was decidedly choppy, particularly when we had other traffic coming the other way and overtaking us. At one point, there was water splashing over the bow and up the sides of the boat. The rudder shakes as each wave passes, and you can hear the prop getting more or less water as we bobbed up and down.
Sue from Indigo Dream said she was working near the river, and later texted us a photo from her phone as we passed Westminster.
At Brentford, Simon from Tortoise was spotted as we passed the entrance to the Grand Union. He later brought us a fantastic set of photos.
We arrived at Richmond slightly too early, as the half-tide barrier was still down, but it did mean we could watch it rise into the bridge.
It was getting dark as we reached Teddington Lock, where we joined a large Dutch Barge that we'd also seen at Limehouse, and who'd passed us at Richmond. They'd done the trip in an hour less than we had! I went and sorted out a Thames licence, and we moored up just above the lock in the gathering gloom. Nigel's wife, Alison, was there to meet us, and we all went to a pub for dinner. It had been a surprisingly exhausting afternoon, but also very exciting and not a little nerve wracking at times. It's a great trip -- and if you get the chance to do it, say yes.
21 miles, 2 locks. (150 miles, 115 locks)