Report (continued) by John Cheesbrough
West of Wandsworth Bridge the river becomes wider (and shallower!) with longer distances between bridges, giving the mistaken impression of reduced speed. At the entrance to Brent Creek a farewell message on the radio reminded those ahead that one of our boats, Joie de Vivre, had peeled off to enter the Grand Union at Brentford. A short time later the first boats arrived at the Half Tide Barrier (Kew Footbridge) to find that the lock bypassing the barrier was not in action.
Due to our earlier than normal time passing Limehouse, the barrier was, as expected, still closed. However, the delay was little more than twenty minutes and once the barrier had “rolled up”, disappearing into the bridge arches, we were on our way.
Teddington Lock turned out to be a much longer delay with insufficient water over the cills for the locks to open. This resulted in a large collection of boats, most of which had appeared from nowhere, circulating like stacked aircraft in the reach below the lock until the first lock was ready.
Once through the lock everyone took the opportunity to moor up and take stock. (Well, we had to stop anyway; to buy those expensive EA licences!)
Teddington marked the end of any organised convoy and the beginning of a more informal cruise towards Oxford and Lechlade. The weather held throughout the run (except for one Henley evening!), enabling much enjoyable sightseeing.
Crews met up at a various points along the way, particularly at Oxford where most stayed two nights and enjoyed a meal together in a nearby pub. Doinmein (Martin and Sue Turner) unfortunately had had to go on ahead earlier, and Aquarigo 2 (Peter and Lesley Taylor) needed to leave us after Oxford; but six boats finally made it to Lechlade, including to everyone’s surprise and delight Lucky B (Bruce and Margaret Paul) whose name had changed to Unlucky B whilst stuck for two days at Shillingford Bridge with a loose propeller. (Nothing to do with the Offley one!) Somehow they caught up.
Whilst in Lechlade a visit to Inglesham, to the end lock of the Cotswold Canals, was clearly mandatory. Several members made use of the CCT trip boat, but three of the narrowboats also ventured upriver to the lock. A historic picture was taken with two of the boats supposedly emerging from the lock; clearly a record of the first boats to have used the canal for some years. (Well, maybe.)
On Sunday 4th August, at the end of a memorable fortnight, the fleet departed individually, returning downriver to Oxford, the Oxford Canal and to next year’s cruising..
My own special memory – six crew members shivering under trees at Henley with umbrellas up to keep out the rain whilst insisting on upholding the club tradition: “Pimms O’clock at Six”.
Report by John Cheesbrough – “Time Out”
Participating boats & crews:
Limehouse – Thames Barrier – Lechlade:
Cormorant II : Bob & Lynn Hallam (Jan Thomas for Barrier)
Jigsaw : Ged & Marilyn Layfield
Lucky B: Bruce & Margaret Paul
Time Out: John & Angela Cheesbrough
Wildcat: David Beamont, Fran Pomerand (for Barrier)
Crew: Jan Thomas,
Crew Rob & Jackie Stammers
Crew Graham & Yvonne Hobbs.
Limehouse – Thames Barrier – Oxford:
Aquarigo 2: Peter & Lesley Taylor
Brentford – Oxford:
Doinmein: Martin & Sue Turner
Brentford – Lechlade:
Intrigue: Neil & Polly Fothergill