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Boat Blog: The return journey

Posted by indigodream on 16 February, 2014

Rewind to Monday 13th January

The cable car looks great in the dark....

The cable car looks great in the dark….

Today would have counted as the most perfect cruising weather, if we hadn’t had even more perfect cruising conditions on the way down! It occurred to me that debating degrees of perfection was not a bad pursuit for a narrowboater in an otherwise rainy winter.

Richard had gone up to the boat on Sunday night but I stayed at home with the hounds. Ty’s been under the weather and on Friday afternoon, Ty’s vet prescribed him a fortnight at home with no stress to see if he would finally put on a bit of weight. Ty was delighted, though it did make our plans a bit complicated and we had to scurry to get a dog-sitter so that we could visit the boatshow and both do the return trip on Monday. Ollie stayed at home as well, he slipped on the boat floor on Friday and did a “starfish” – I had to help him up and the vet found that he’d pulled one of his tricep muscles – ouch!

We had a very civilised start time on Monday, which allowed our crew to assemble from all over Greater London – me from Surrey, Doug and James from nb Chance, moored in Paddington and Simon from nb Scholar Gypsy who travelled in from the North. But the prize goes to Paul Balmer from Waterway Routes, who made the epic trip down from Birmingham on Monday morning! We had a thoroughly satisfactory human crew but I’m afraid that Indigo Dream without greyhounds just isn’t right at all….

And we're off.....

And we’re off…..

We set off from our mooring at around 9.30am and soon joined a mixed convoy of vessels heading for the King George V lock (KGV) – this took a LONG time. London City airport wouldn’t let the tall boats pass the end of the runway while planes were landing – not because of the danger of a jet being impaled on a mast, but because of potential interference with their navigational instruments. However, they did let us past while planes were taking off, so got the closest view of a jet’s tail end that we’re ever likely to see!

On this occasion, we used the full lock – “where shall we go?” we asked the lock-keepers “wherever you like” they replied – the assorted tugs, narrowboats and Sunseekers barely displaced any water in the gargantuan lock.

We headed off upstream and enjoyed the trip, as always – it seemed to take no time to get to Bow Creek Mouth. We had a great treat in store – after carefully checking the water levels, Lenny the Lockie decided that we would just fit under the bridges between City Mills Locks and Three Mills Locks. I was excited to be using these locks – built for the Olympics, I believe that they’re a chronically underused resource. Compared to KGV, Three Mills lock is tiny, but still our three narrowboats fitted in with room to spare πŸ™‚

Many shapes and sizes leaving the docks....

Boats of many shapes and sizes leaving the docks….

Once we got through City Mills Lock, we said a fond farewell t0 the crew of nb Ketura – she was finally able to access her home moorings after months in dry dock for major repairs. Nb Ketura was badly damaged when she was run down by a CityCruiser last summer (on the final convoy of the season with ourselves and nb Doris Katia). Nb Ketura was completely exonerated in the subsequent investigation – you can read the Port of London Authority safety briefing here. We’ve heard a lot of speculation about the incident but let me, once and for all, repeat that there was nothing nb Ketura could have done to avoid the collision – she was entirely blameless and we can only be grateful that no-one was injured.

Our convoy was now down to two, and we were glad that Doris Katia were in the lead as we cruised under the two low bridges – well, they’re not that low under normal conditions, but when there’s a lot of fresh water coming down the River Lea they can render the navigation unnavigable. Today we had about half an inch to spare – you know it’s low when even I have to duck!

We continued on and sadly watched the “authorities” pull the boom across the access to the Bow Back Rivers behind us – I can’t wait for that stretch of water to be opened – it’s been closed for far too long. At this point, we said goodbye to nb Doris Katia – they turned right toward Old Ford Lock and the short cut up the Hertfordshire Union Canal towards St Pancras. We turned left toward Limehouse, dropping Simon off at Bow Wharf along the way – he had to go to work!

The rest of us continued on the Limehouse and our annual pilgrimage to the Royal Docks was over. The trip back had taken an age – mainly because of delays around the airport, but luckily I’d made arrangements for a friend to call in to see the hounds. Nonetheless, I wanted to make a quick getaway home, and travelled into central London with Paul, Doug and James. I was particularly sad to say goodbye to Doug and James, they’ve been fine cruising companions over the last year πŸ™‚

Richard stayed on board to do some boat maintenance – our boat safety inspection was due on Thursday – that’s come round quickly! After a glance in the weedhatch, he also found out why our reversing on the way back had been so bad!

Photoblog:

A nod to the Docks industrial past...

A smoky nod to the Docks industrial past…

Swinging the bridge - there's a serious fee for stopping the traffic there...

Swinging the bridge – there’s a serious fee for stopping the traffic hereabouts…

A sunseeker and a jet - this would be a great place to keep your toys - if you can ignroe the fact that it's surrounded by industrial East London!

A sunseeker and a jet – this would be a great place to keep your toys – if you can ignore the fact that it’s surrounded by industrial East London!

Another fine morning...

Another fine morning…

Lowering the bridge - we don't really need the extra headroom :-)

Lowering the bridge – we don’t really need the extra headroom πŸ™‚

This lock is so huge you'd hardly know it was one...

This lock is so huge you’d hardly know it was one…

The happy crew of nb Ketura - this was a big trip for them....

The happy crew of nb Ketura – this was a big trip for them….

Our happy crew...

Our happy crew…

On our way back...

On our way back…

Need a reason to smile - come on a convoy cruise along the tideway :-)

Need a reason to smile – come on a convoy cruise along the tideway πŸ™‚

The cable car towers are so photogenic...

The cable car towers are so photogenic…

The familiar lightship at Bow Creek Mouth...

The familiar lightship at Bow Creek Mouth…

Bow Creek has it all really...

Bow Creek has it all really…

It's always fun to cruise upstream of Bow Locks - here we're looking over to the moored boats on the canalised section at Three Mills...

It’s always fun to cruise upstream of Bow Locks – here we’re looking over to the moored boats on the canalised section at Three Mills…

Love this view of Three Mills - not far off high tide here...

Love this view of Three Mills – not far off high tide here…

Turning into Three Mills Lock...

Turning into Three Mills Lock…

It's tiny compared to KGV lock but Three Mills lock is hardly cramped :-)

It’s tiny compared to KGV lock but Three Mills lock is hardly cramped πŸ™‚

We though this bridge was a bit low....

We though this bridge was a bit low….

..until we got to this one! These bridges are the main barrier to using this nvaigation - any "fresh" coming down the Lea soon makes them unpassable....

..until we got to this one!
These bridges are the main barrier to using this navigation – any “fresh” coming down the Lea soon makes them impassable….

Turning towards City Mills lock - the water levels were just right for us just to be waved through...

Turning towards City Mills lock – the water levels were just right for us just to be waved through…

So sad to see this navigation being blocked - can't wait for the Bow Back rivers to be opened again.- it's been a long time...

So sad to see this navigation being blocked – can’t wait for the Bow Back rivers to be opened again – it’s been a long time…

A "canalside" view of Three Mills :-)

A “canalside” view of Three Mills πŸ™‚

4 Responses to “Boat Blog: The return journey”

  1. We would never have got MR under either of those bridges with all our ‘stuff’ on the roof. Forgive my ignorance but why are the Bow back rivers closed? Hope Ty is feeling better.

  2. indigodream said

    Well part were physically blocked with a pedestrian walkway for Sports Day then Cross Rail had a coffer dam near the same spot so the loop had to be closed. It is hard to see any reason why the section to City Mill Lock has not re-opened. Ty is better with bits of stray bone removed, just ran up the stairs for the first time in a week but still a bit to go

  3. Thanks again for having me on board.

    I am now planning my next tideway trip – with luck (and some planning) Denver to the new pontoons at Kings Lynn.

  4. indigodream said

    Hi Simon, you’re always welcome on board – looking forward to hearing about your planned tidal adventures – sounds great πŸ™‚

    Jill, it’s one way to clear any unwanted clutter from the roof! πŸ˜€

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