Monday 17th October.
Although cold, it was a lovely windless day with sun rising and a light mist over the water. We were away by 9am heading for Marsh Lock at Henley, which was manned. Very few boats were moored on the expensive Henley moorings, which may be a sign of contempt for their prices. Strangely, most of the locks were manned today, which saved a lot of walking. Sally steered most of the way and did the necessary at the locks, being a God send to me, who could put his feet up most of the time. We had a close shave at the entrance to the lock cut at Cookham, when she steered towards the weir by mistake; an easy mistake to make as there are five directions to go at that point. Trying to steer away from it, the boat was caught by the current and about to be broadsided by the bow of a large cruiser, but the application of maximum power enabled us to get around it and into the lock cut.
Sally in charge.
Arriving at Baths Island Windsor, we were greeted by my two lovely grand-daughters and driven to their house for a delightful chicken curry and welcome vino.
As soon as we got back to the boat, the bailiff was there with mooring tickets in hand and wanting his £8. He must have been hiding in the bushes for quite a while to collect his dues. This is the first time in ten years that I have ever paid there.
Tuesday 18th October.
A late start heading for Staines and The Swan Hotel. Surprisingly, all three locks were manned, so the trip was a speedy one. Sure enough there was space on the jetty at The Swan with the Anna, a large centre cockpit cruiser with a banner and empty beer casks on the top. The banner was advertising The Thames Side Brewery, which I discovered later was based at Tims Wharf just a short distance down river. The pub was chock-a-block, which was unusual for a Tuesday evening. I discovered later that it was the official launch of the brewery – see Facebook – Thames Side Brewery. The sad part is that I did not have any of their beer, drinking Fuller’s Red Fox instead, which was a very good pint.
The Swan, Staines. A very well kept pub and hotel.
Wednesday 19th October.
I let go rather earlier this morning, with a view to getting either to my home mooring or to Thames court pub, just above Shepperton Lock, but shortly after letting go from The Swan, I came upon nb Merchant, the fuel boat, moored up at Tims Yard. I stopped off when I saw Chris Iddon look over his gunnel and waving me in. We had a good catch up chat for a while about each others progress during the last two years, when we last met up. Had I need for diesel, now was the time to fill up, but my tanks were full.
Autumn colours on the Thames.
Penton Hook Lock was manned, but Chertsey was not, so with no other boat in sight, it was all down to me. It took me nearly an hour to get through, hobbling from one end of the lock to the other, but by mooring on the right side, I didn’t need to walk all around the lock.
Getting within sight of Thames Court pub, I could see Still Rockin’ moored up outside, so that made up my mind about stopping there. I arranged to meet up with George in the pub later and we had very good craic over a pint.
Thursday 20th October.
Still Rockin' leaves Shepperton to go upstream.
Not far to go now to my Wey mooring, but it took me three hours to do it. Shepperton Lock was unmanned, so as there was a Land and Water tug moored up close, I asked the driver if he would do the lock for me, which he very kindly did, seeing me out the other end.
Getting into Thames Lock on The Wey, I was met by an unknown lock keeper called Dave, who was on relief for Tracy. I mentioned my fuel supply that had been dropped off a couple of weeks before by the Trust boats, which he was aware of and offered to load them on the bow for me, for which I was most grateful. He has a boat moored above Pyrford Lock, so I will almost certainly see him again.
Town Lock was next and not a boat in sight, so it was all up to me. With three crossings of the lower footbridge to be done to open the bottom gates, I decided to try and fill the lock from one paddle once the boat was in the lock. Sure enough, it did the trick and I could now open both gates by crossing on the boat instead of using the bridge twice more. At last, a waterway where I did not have to close the gates behind me.
Trying to get into my home mooring was not easy either, as it had silted up in the six months of no use. However, once tied up, I used the engine in reverse gear to try and dredge it out. Having been successful, I could now tie up tight to the finger jetty as before.
So that was the end of my marathon cruise, but not quite, as I intend summing up with a count of miles and number of locks done in those six months in the final episode.