Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Making a decision ...

 Monday (28th) at 6:20 ...
 to a hard frost ...
 and mist rising from the river.

We spent a quiet morning.  I did some washing which I dried inside against the fire as the murk didn't really clear much all day whilst George topped up the batteries with distilled water and did other 'engine related tasks'.
We could hear the chug of an old engine long before we saw nb Bournemouth in the mist coming upstream on red boards although here at Beale Park the river looks fairly calm at the moment.

This wasn't the only boat out and about on this reach ... Whitchurch lock must be on self service as I'm sure that if that were not the case the lockie would not allow them through ... but could he actually prevent them from traveling?
Over on the other side of the Thames I glimpsed these riders on what appears to be donkeys??

George and I discussed the matter endlessly ... weighing up all the pros and cons ...
  • If we went, would we be able to stop Still Rockin' downstream at the top of Whitchurch Lock? (The reach below is still not on red boards at the moment so we could continue our journey).   
  • If we didn't go and the reach below goes onto red boards we would have to stop for at least a couple more days waiting for the river to go down.  

As I've mentioned in previous posts, we need to be in Hambleden no later than Sunday because Hambleden Lock closes on the 4th November until mid-December.  It's a real dilemma.
2pm and we made the decision ... let's go ... and at 2:20 we were away
Although the flow is 'fresh' it was manageable
A hire boat coming upstream ... I wonder if the hirer knows anything about 'red boards'?

Approaching Whitchurch Lock ... getting a bit anxious now.
 Good fortune though, the lock gates were already open ... phew!

We continued to Mapledurham Lock, the weir is ahead and the lock is the other side of the moored boats and although the signage informed that the lock was on self service, there was a lock keeper on duty and a boat coming up the lock (another hire boat).

I had a word with the lockie about the river conditions.  He told me that all the reaches above Whitchurch were now on red but so far the reach below was still on stream increasing and that he was okay with us continuing but we must stop at Caversham (Reading) as the following reach was on red.  He warned that there would be a 'kick from the weir from our left as we left the lock so take that into consideration'.
Leaving Whitchurch lock ... George has a few revs going!
the flow from the weirs was fierce!...
and the tail lock landing was already flooded.

George expertly steered through the weir water and we were on our way ...

Coming into Reading and Caversham Bridge.

We need coal and diesel but would need to turn Still Rockin' to enable us to pull into the wharf of Cavendish Boats facing upstream, so we went round the island and pulled in.  Once the tank was full and with three bags of coal in bow, we again went round the island, winded again to moor alongside the park just after 5pm!

Of course this could have all gone wrong ... we shouldn't have been cruising on red boards ... but we'd thought about if carefully beforehand ... and this time it was alright ... we were lucky.
The pedestrian and cyclist bridge over the Thames
and the riverside offices of Reading.

We are hoping that there will be a lull on the river in a day or so to enable us to continue ... there is more rain forecast at the weekend.

What on earth will we do if we can't get to our winter mooring?

Sunday, 27 October 2019

I don't believe it! ....

Awake much as usual this morning (Sunday 27th) at, what would yesterday have been 6:20 but was actually 5:20 with the clocks falling back and we have 0° temperatures ... a tad chilly!
  and at 7:20 there was steam rising from the Thames which was like a mill pond.

Later in the morning we went for a walk via Lower Basildon 

The River Thames runs between the two lines of trees 

Walking towards Beale Park ...

in the surprisingly warm sunshine 

Through the gate to walk round the lake ...

we saw several adolescent cygnets

 It'a very nearly leaf kicking time!
 Some nice boats moored on the lake today
 Blackberry lane, but no blackberries now
 back onboard watching the world go by ... these paddle boarders rippling the still water

 while George cooks dinner ... will this be the last one this year?  I do hope not!
 An unusual boat going downstream on the wrong side of the river!
and sundown at just 5:20

While I'm typing up this post George has had a look at the River Thames conditions which was updated at noon today ...
and we really can't believe it ... this reach is back on red boards ... and downstream of here the stream is increasing ... and through Reading its decreasing!

I wish it would make up its mind.  We were going to travel though Reading tomorrow and to Hambleden by Wednesday, but not sure now what we'll do.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Oh to be free ... at last!

We have been moored here in Goring now for nine days, all but three of them on red boards (for which we paid the mooring fees) until the flow decreased some more ...

 Today (Saturday 26th) we finally untied the ropes at 9:55.
 George applied big revs in forward gear to the engine and the bow thruster button was actioned to turn us around and Still Rockin' was still going backwards with the flow ... broadside!

 Not touching the trees on the other side of the Thames ...

 we continue to wind with the bow thruster doing its job ...

 and we're round ... full steam ahead now but with a lot less revs!
 Sorry, a terrible picture, but this is Ann-Marie and Dave whose blog I read last night and hoped we might be able to wave to this morning as we knew they were on their way from the K&A today.

 Looking over the meadow as we approach Gatehampton Bridge we can see rowers and coming round the corner is another lot with a coach boat ...

 both safely past.
Apart from the coach and the two coxswains none of the rowers were wearing life jackets ... in the strong stream, wind and rain I thought that this was foolhardy to say the least.
 I think the rowing boats must belong to Goring Gap Boat Club with its new building shown above.
 Through the railway bridge
 Have I ever mentioned ...
 that I just love this reach? ...
 Even on a dull, drizzly autumn day!
 Canoeists sneaking round the corner.
 That's where we want to be.  
When we left Beale Park ten days ago when the river went onto red boards, we'd needed to think carefully about which order we would remove our mooring ropes and pins.  If we got it wrong we'd have problems ... big ones!  

We decided to put in an old mooring pin (no longer used because the ring had snapped off) at the bow and loosen the bow rope so that it could be looped over the old pin. George then removed the main pin and I held Still Rockin' as close to the bank as I could while George untied the stern rope and quickly removed that pin and came back on board.  So with the engine going full tilt I pulled in the bow rope leaving the pin in situ ... we wondered if it would still be there when we returned.
 Broadside once again as we winded to face back upstream I noticed that the pin was indeed still there and was retrieved and put back into store!

 This will do nicely for the weekend.
Autumn colour is more apparent now.