Late June and it seems we have done lots of things since I last wrote – and we probably have!
We left Windsor – of course having wonderful views of the Castle, though Liz and Phil were not at home to wave.
How interesting our next mooring was at Runnymede, where after a wet night (again) we awoke to hear the result of the EU referendum.
While we were here, we once more climbed the hill to visit the Commonwealth Air Forces memorial. There, we again paid our respects to all those who died, especially Lynn’s Uncle, James Patterson Neville, who was lost aged 19 in 1943.
Now onto Weybridge, to join the Wey and Goldalming navigation for a week. We had to wait overnight, as the Wey was in flood. Next morning, all was well, so off we went. The charge for 7 days was £72.00, but the week we were there (apart from even more grim weather) we had a great time with Mo and Mike on The Great Escape. It’s interesting to note that the navigation is owned, run and maintained by The National Trust. I’m sure there are lessons here for CCT when our canals are finally opened to the public.
Then, slowly onwards to Hampton Court, our final nights before the Tidal Thames! In a few days, I’m due to help crew MicMac, Polly and Neil’s new Dutch Barge over the English Channel, so plans were carefully drawn up for the necessary movements of crew.
At Hampton Court, we were joined by our good mates Andy and Carole. He is my trusted Navigator and bridge checker. (More shortly).
So now time for a big event – the tidal Thames from Teddington to Limehouse. This is on a big Spring Tide – ebbing! Miss Limehouse and it would be “Hello Shoeburyness or Margate.” Not good with a 55ft NB!
Having checked several days ago with Limehouse Lock, we re-checked they were expecting us about 20:15, being about 3 1/2 hour trip. Next, inform London Vessel Transit Service (VTS) of impending departure. All checked, anchor ready to deploy, mobile to hand, life jackets on and we’re off.
The tide is very high, some parts of the towpath at Richmond were 18″ or more underwater. Engine wound up, Andy checked times bridge to bridge, we were within minutes of schedule. Speed increased to around 8mph
Towards the centre, the clipper boats (ferries), restaurant and trip boats are “interesting” to pass but we bounced merrily along. The sights from the river are spectacular, if you have time to see them! We saw most of them, but this was a rapid transit.
All too soon, we passed under our last bridge- Tower Bridge – it was looking quite resplendent. Now a call to Limehouse, we’ll be there in 15 minutes. No problem! So we look intently for the entrance from the other side of the river and cross over at the correct point after the correct sound signals, perform a neat “ferry glide” stem the tide and pop into the open lock.
After a suitable celebration and a quiet night , we were soon moored at Three Mills lock on the Lee and Stort Navigation. After another visit to the Theatre to see “Sweeney Todd,” we had a quiet day, then the great event.
Some 60 boats of all shapes and sizes were led around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Complications were cheerfully overcome, though a great disappointment was not going out into the lower part of the tidal Thames – it was too windy!
So, to complete our cruise plan, we bade farewell to Carole and Andy and set out with The Great Escape for Bishop’s Stortford. There are hundreds of permanently moored boats up the river, little or no room in many places to moor and facilities rare. However, as always, we were adaptable, including getting a water point at 07:30 one morning, while Mike and Mo were still in bed, both boats breasted up and manoeuvred across the navigation!
All too soon though, the two boats had to go separate ways, as the River Stort locks aren’t wide enough to take two boats. In addition, Bob had to hurry along a bit as he was to crew Polly and Neil’s new boat MicMac across the channel to France. More on that some other time.
So, the end of another wonderful cruise with great company, many tales to tell and eventually SUNSHINE.
Bob and Lynn Hallam. – NB Cormorant II (that’s 2 not eleven)