Friday 21 June 2013

Chance on Thames again

It's been another great day on board Chance, thanks to Doug and James.  This morning, I got the train from home to Teddington, where I met up with Chance for the journey down to Limehouse.  We went into the lock (they put us in the huge barge lock, but using the gates half way down) just after 1pm.  There were boats arriving from Brentford in the usual lock (including Parisien Star).  There were eight boats in our lock, but all the others were going off at Brentford.

Then we were off down the Thames.  We had lunch on the way, before reaching central London, and the exciting bit.  It was warm and sunny as we made our way through the city.

There were some big boats around, and it took quite a lot of concentration to steer into all the washes.

After Tower Bridge we were looking out for the entrance to Limehouse Marina.  There were three big boats coming the other way, making lots of wash (and I mean lots of wash) which James had to steer into.  It put us quite a long way over the river.

Adrian had been in London for meetings, and had managed to get to Limehouse to watch us arrive.  He looked tiny up near the entrance to the lock, but took some great photos of us approaching.

It all meant that we ended up doing a straight-in entrance to the lock -- not really what we'd intended, but James handled things really well, and we didn't touch the sides at all.

Going up in the lock, they just open the gates and let the water in.  It was raining by then, so we got a little wet as we moored up, at the end of an exciting cruise.

Check out Chance's blog for their account of the day.

Saturday 15 June 2013

A Chance to get a Wey

This morning we drove the forty minutes or so from home to Godalming, and got the train to Guildford.  We walked along the River Wey, and met up with Doug and James on Chance.  They were moored at the meadows just out of town.

After tea and cake, we set off for the short trip back to Godalming.  We've walked this part of the river a few times, but never done it on board a boat.  The first lock is St Catherine's Lock, and is pretty shallow.

Some of the bridges have pretty low headroom, and you can understand why there are problems when the levels rise.

We passed the junction with the Wey and Arun Canal, which is under restoration further down its length.  It wasn't immediately clear which way to go, as the sign is very small.  All that's left of the canal at this point is an arm used for moorings.

Unstead Lock comes next, and this one is a bit deeper.

This bridge has clearly been significantly changed at some point in its history.

We've often had days out to Farncombe Boathouse, where there's a decent café, and always something going on to watch.  Catteshall Lock is immediately beyond, and the lock workers have to cross the road at the bridge.

This lock, like the others, has very fierce paddles.

Godalming Wharf is a short distance further on, with the trip boat, Iona, moored up in front of the old wharf building.  We went round the corner and tried to get onto a mooring but it was too shallow.  So James reversed back, winded, and then we realised that a boat which had been moored up had gone, so we took its place.

As we had lunch on board, people started arriving for a trip on Iona, which is a horse drawn boat.  Their trip lasted a couple of hours.

After lots of eating and talking, we all walked up through Godalming, to where our car was parked at the railways station.  It was a great day out with good company, and really nice to do a bit of waterway we've seen only from the towpath before.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Chance on the Thames

Yesterday lunchtime I managed to persuade a colleague to switch the time of my break, so I could head down to the Thames to see Doug and James on Chance doing the tidal stretch.  I knew what time they were locking out of Limehouse, so I headed for Westminster Bridge.  I first spotted the familiar blue right back at Waterloo Bridge, looking little more than a speck in the distance.  Here they are coming through Hungerford Bridge.

The other narrowboat on the trip is just behind.  But look at what's coming through the next span across!

Getting closer, but still looking pretty small.

Passing the London Eye.

 The crew look pretty cheerful, if though it was a breezy day, and the river was a bit choppy.

Chance was really shifting.  I barely had time to cross to the other side of the bridge before they were on their way past St Thomas' Hospital on one side and Parliament on the other.

 Then disappearing off into the distance, heading for Lambeth Bridge.

It was almost as exciting watching from the bridge as it was doing the trip on Briar Rose nearly two years ago!

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Barbara Helen II on test

The July issue of Canal Boat is in the shops, and includes my boat test of the Stephen Goldsbrough boat, Barbara Helen II.

Monday 10 June 2013

June weekend - Day 3

This was our mooring last night, just on the edge of the winding hole at Old Linslade.  It's a nice mooring.  The trains are behind a small hill; the only problem is the car going over the narrow bridge just behind us, who all hoot their horns, so it's quite noisy at times.  The hooting seems to be instead of slowing down!

This morning was cloudy and chilly.  We set off about 8.10, and were soon at the Three Locks at Soulbury.  The top one was half full, the middle one empty, and the bottom one full.

At Stoke Hammond lock, we were just leaving when another boat arrived at the top.  They'd caught us up by Fenny Stratford lock, and it turned out to be Best O' Mates, whom we'd met a few weeks ago at Marsworth.

Through Milton Keynes, I spotted a swan walking its young along a street.

Then we came up behind an unusual boat going very slowly.  It appeared to be because the helmsman couldn't actually see anything, and was taking left-right instructions from a man at the bow.  We got past them on a wide bit.

We had lunch on the move, then as the afternoon wore on the sun decided to come out and at time it was really quite warm.  We went up Cosgrove lock, and as it was only 3pm decided to moor up, do a few jobs, and enjoy the sunshine for a bit.  We'd seen some people preparing their inflatable boat above the lock, and they came past, shortly afterwards.  They assured us they weren't going to sink.

There have been loads of boats past, many of them wanting to get on the water point just behind us.  One was a Clifton Cruisers hire boat who waited in the channel for a boat to leave, then got a bit stuck.  A man who was already there gave them a hand -- and ended up getting pulled into the water!  If it had been me, I'd have let go of the rope.  Adrian went to assist.

We had an early dinner before traveling the short distance to the marina.  We've packed up, and will be heading home shortly.

18 miles, 6 locks.  (36 miles, 12 locks)

Saturday 8 June 2013

June weekend - Day 2

We spent some time this morning dozing in bed, so it was gone 9am before we set off.  It wasn't nearly as sunny as forecast -- in fact, it was cloudy and quite chilly.

We did the familiar plod through Wolverton, Great Linford, and Milton Keynes, meeting a few boats on the way.  At Fenny Compton Lock the gates were open but the bridge was across, so Adrian got off at the bow and swung the bridge, and then I took the stern to the other side of the lock so I could close that gate.

At Stoke Hammond Lock, a widebeam was just going up, so we had to turn the lock.  A couple of walkers sat on the grass and got their flask of coffee out while we rose.

We were still behind the widebeam at the Three Locks at Soulbury.  There were four people on board, but only two had windlasses.  The spare crew member was at the next lock up -- but only taking photos.  All in all they were pretty inefficient.  For the first time at these locks, there were people sitting outside the pub.  Other times we've been this way it's either been too early, or it's been raining.

Once up the locks we continued to Old Linslade, and moored just before Bridge 110.  It was before 4pm, so we washed and Bullet polished one side of the boat.  Then we turned in the wide bit of canal right there, moored back in the same place and washed and polished the other side.  When the sun came out, it was really quite warm.

16.5 miles, 5 locks. (18 miles, 6 locks)

June weekend - Day 1

With a weekend off and a good weather forecast, we decided the other day that we'd have a weekend on board.  I shopped this morning, then met Adrian at his office at 4pm.  The journey was surprisingly OK - we made the right decision to go through Bicester, because the M40 was at a standstill.

Unpacking the car took just a few minutes, and we were on the move at 6.40, heading out of the marina towards Cosgrove.  We're coming this way partly because the Russell Newbery rally is at Stoke Bruerne this weekend, so it's likely to be very busy up there.

It was busy with moored boats towards Cosgrove, although there was plenty of room in the village itself.  We headed for the lock, though, and Adrian jumped off at the narrows to work it.   It was full, so just needed a gate opening.

Below the lock the moorings looked busy, but in fact the was a space that was plenty big enough.  We've had a moussaka for dinner that I cooked this afternoon at home, and none we can just hear the birds singing and the occasional fish jumping out of the water.

1.5 miles, 1 lock.

Monday 3 June 2013

More Heron Map photos

The latest new Heron Map is out, an it includes two of my photos.  One is of Debdale in the staircase locks at Stourport in May 2010

The other is of Briar Rose somewhere up the Tardebigge Locks in July 2011.

Sunday 2 June 2013

Sea Lock

We're both back at home now, so this morning we decided to have a walk by the sea.  We parked at Chichester marina, and walked down to West Itchenor.  Near the start of the walk, we crossed the sea lock at the end of the Chichester Ship Canal.  It hasn't been used for a very, very long time.  It was also low tide.

This part of the canal is used for static house boats.