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Boat Blog: Getting ready for Easter

Posted by indigodream on 4 April, 2012

Saturday 31st March

Limehouse to Teddington

Worried? Me? Of course not - they haven't opened the gates yet!

We’re planning to join the Byfleet Boat Club for their convoy along the Basingstoke Canal over Easter. It’s a great opportunity as there’s a possibility that this will be the last passage along the troubled Basingstoke this year unless there’s a deluge of water from somewhere.

We’ve never cruised the Basingstoke, so we’re very excited by the prospect; but Limehouse Basin is quite a trek from the starting point at Woodham Junction (on the Wey) and we need to get there by 9am on Good Friday. We’ve been “umming” and “aaahing” for a while, wondering whether we could cruise from Limehouse to Woodham Junction in one mega-day’s cruising on Thursday, but we decided to make our lives a bit easier by moving the boat to Teddington last Saturday.

With a long-term stoppage on the Regent’s Canal our only option was to cruise the tideway – it’s starting to feel like a commuter route now! I hope I’ll always get a thrill from riding the river though – I certainly did today – the passage up the Pool of London was as choppy as I’ve ever encountered – good practice for me on the helm!

The tides were awkward today – the afternoon tide was late, meaning that using the conventional timing (leave Limehouse 3 hours before high tide Teddington) would have had us cruising in the dark again. But the Limehouse lockies are a tremendous resource when planning the trip – they told us that it was a neap tide (neither too high or too low) so we’d be able to get over the cill at Limehouse a lot earlier than usual – 2.45pm in fact, even though high tide at Teddington wasn’t until 8.15pm!

Time to really hang on to that front rope!

In the end we split the difference and locked out of Limehouse at 4.30pm – we were made late by a long and thorough appointment with the vet, who needed to re-bandage Lou’s foot. She’s got a very deep cut in an awkward place – it didn’t heal with the first lot of stitches so she had to have it re-stitched on Thursday and now she has an unusual smelly infection in the wound which needs new (and very expensive) antibiotics – **sigh**.

Although we were late arriving at the boat, preparations had already been made for our departure. Sarah – minus hounds and husband – decided to join us for some fresh air. Despite her own share of greyhound crises, she managed to arrive on time! She’d started to get the boat ready by the time we arrived so we made a speedy exit – the wind turning us out of our berth backwards! We couldn’t help but notice some new pontoons where we hadn’t been expecting them – the turning circle to/from our berth will be very tight if the finger pontoons host full-length trip boats.

Luckily, Sarah hadn’t been in the fridge – I was the unlucky person who discovered the interestingly green and overwhelmingly stinky sausages and bacon – eeughhh!

We had a convivial chat with Jeremy, the senior lockie. I was on the front rope and experienced the usual frisson of fear as they opened the gate to let the water out – although we’ve done it many times before, I still get a chill from seeing the water pouring from the gates feet above the river. Needless to say, the lock empties very quickly!

Moody views...

Richard took us out onto the tideway, then I took the helm while he made the first of many rounds of coffee. As we entered the tideway we were joined by what looked like an old tub with a deck full of young men enjoying an evening’s booze cruise. We weren’t too sure who was in charge – they didn’t seem too sure either! They meandered up the river with a good-natured disregard for other river traffic. At one point they drew close to ask us whether we had a toilet on board – they looked quite envious when we said ‘yes’, but we didn’t offer to rig up a  bosun’s chair to winch them across!

They stayed in the centre of the navigation roughly parallel with us for quite a while, but after a bit of congestion with a clipper and a trip boat coming downstream, the tub and us going upstream and a clipper in hot pursuit behind us, I hit the gas and left them behind. As we pulled away I was quite surprised that the tub had three hulls – not what you’d call a sleek trimaran but more sophisticated that I’d expected.

It’s just as well that VHF transmissions are strictly confidential – we were entertained by a boat, who shall remain nameless, being given a bollocking by London VTS – then we hastily checked our own speed and course in case they caught us next!

We were very grateful to have Sarah on board – we each helmed about a third of the tideway – I did the Pool of London up to Victoria or so, then Richard did a stretch before handing the helm to Sarah at Putney – this saved us from getting too tired and too cold, though it was pretty nippy by the time we got to Richmond. I spent one third of my time on the helm, one third of the trip chatting and one third of my time in the galley – I didn’t pay any particular attention to my surroundings this time so no ‘today’s trivia’….

Bored with the river? Never!!

It was very quiet on the river – even in the pool of London. We saw a couple of private boats coming downstream at Richmond, along with a trip boat leaving its wharf  – the first of the season apparently. We had expected to use the lock at Richmond but the half-tide barriers had just been raised – we got dripped on as we passed under the bridge!

We got to Teddington with light to spare – the lockie put us through the barge lock – strange to be just one boat in such a gargantuan lock! Richard hopped off to pay for a few nights’ moorings and, quite abruptly, there we were – moored up on one of my favourite spots on the waterways. I’d spent the last 20 minutes packing the boat so we were off in no time at all. We got away so quickly that Richard fretted that we hadn’t done all our ‘leave the boat’ chores – I was more confident – well, at least the fridge was pristine and turned off! We walked to Teddington train station and wended our way home with the satisfied weariness of another tideway trip safely done and the boat perfectly positioned for our Easter cruise.

Dog Blog:

We’ve had another weigh-in and Poppy gained a smidgeon to bring her up to 26kg – a huge improvement from the pitiful 22kg that she weighed when she was first rescued. But since then she’s had a setback with some sort of intestinal bug so she’s now back to 25.2kg – this is a worry but she’s being treated, tested and is very cheerful in herself. Ooh another update – Poppy is much better – she’s on a course of special antibiotics for gut bugs and she’s gained the kilo back and is now 26.2kg. It’s a novelty watching her weight in the hope that she’s gained – that’s a first in this household 🙂

In the meantime, Lou’s injured foot is still not healing- she now has such a big bandage that her leg looks like a juggler’s club – she is not impressed. For completeness, Jellyboy Ty is fine and lovely – he is still the wussiest, cuddliest greyhound ever, but he seems to be gaining confidence from being part of a bigger pack!


The tub....

The shard - one day we must do a montage of all our photos to track the changes - it's been built at a phenomenal rate....

Tower Bridge - it will be opened for the pageant - it's surely every boater's fantasy to go cruise under the open bridge 🙂

It's behind you......

I'm always amazed that these duck boats stay afloat!

This rib caused the most troublesome wash of the day - the clippers were moving very slowly today...

Now there's an interesting board - the clearance under Hammersmith Bridge can be pretty tight when there's a high spring tide... Is it new? We can remember a gauge on the left but not one on the right?

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