Thursday, 26 March 2020

Covid-19 on Environment Agency Waters ... and a birthday ...

which of course includes the River Thames ...

We had prior notice (unofficial) a few days ago via Simon the resident lock keeper here at Hambleden when he said that there would be no assisted passage through locks ... 

We could do with more diesel so rang Chris (fuel boat Merchant) to ask if he's currently still able to deliver to boats.  He said that he was and had already been out delivering but when he arrived at Chertsey Lock he was turned back because he'd been told by the lockie that the lock was in shut down with no power ... although he had discussion with the lock keeper about his right to maintain essential supplies he was not allowed through.

We decided to contact Simon to find out and he explained that to prevent (or perhaps delay/deter) boaters cruising the Thames all power had been switched off ostensibly to stop the virus from spreading via the buttons on the control centres.  It would be possible however to operate the locks manually - ie., wind the handle a million times to open the gates!

late yesterday afternoon it was confirmed ...


The announcement states ... "we have taken the difficult decision to introduce limits to the use of our waterways to stop all non-essential travel." 

This means ...
  • We are asking the owners of all boats kept or used on our managed waterways not to make any journeys on their boats, other than to access essential services and facilities.
  • We will not provide ‘assisted passage’ (staff to operate locks) at any of our lock sites but locks will remain open for self-service use where possible. This will allow those living aboard their boats to reach essential services if they need to.  
  • At the few locks where self-service is not possible, our local teams will put special temporary operating arrangements in place to allow boats to return to their home moorings.   
  • We will lift time restrictions on the short stay moorings we own or manage, to assist those who live aboard their boats so they can access essential services.
  • We will do the very best we can to keep open the essential facilities we provide (e.g. water supply, sewage pump-out and chemical toilet disposal), for those who need them. However our staff will not be able to offer the sale of keys, cards or tokens. These essential services will not include the provision of shower and toilet facilities.     
  • We advise our customers to stay at home rather than self-isolating aboard, unless your boat is your primary residence. This is so you do not put yourself at increased risk or place additional burden upon our facilities.
  • The river conditions on our waterways are starting to improve and in some places our Strong Stream Advice will be updated in the coming days. However, any travel on our waterways should still be minimised to the essential movement outlined above.  
We will keep these restrictions under constant review in the light of the developing situation and advice from Government, but we expect them to be in place until at least 14 April 2020. 

To read the announcement in its entirety click on the link here
Several reaches both above and below Hambleden are still on red boards but even when the water reduces Hambleden Lock will still be closed as the maintenance work on the lower lock landing was stopped back at the beginning of November due to rising water levels and need to be completed before the lock is open again.

We are due to leave the marina on 13th April ... we shall just have to wait and see what transpires.
In the meantime on Still Rockin' we've not been idle ...





We love watching the birds on and around the feeders and this little moorhen was really funny!  He would wait directly under whichever bird was on the feeders waiting for scraps to fall ... every now and then he would look up with obvious impatience for his/her next morsel!
We've had quite a few very cold mornings with temperature below freezing followed by gloriously sunny days ... this one on Monday morning (27th March).

Since the new battery bank was fitted we have been decorating the inside of Still Rockin' in very similar colour tones to what we had before.  The whole job has taken just over a week, taking down pictures etc., filling and sanding in the holes and washing down the walls and ceiling before starting with undercoat and two top coats on all the surfaces ... it was all worth it as the whole interior now looks so much fresher.

After the decorating it was straight on to cleaning and waterproofing the canopies ... a long and tiring processes ... but at least the sun was shining as George jet washed and scrubbed them on the pontoon (sorry too busy to take pictures).

Bikini weather yesterday (25th) ... this is my weather station which I sat on the roof of Still Rockin' in the sunshine while I was cleaning the deck cushions in short sleeves!  It was almost too warm!

This is today's photo of another overnight ground frost and another warm day ahead is forecast.

Today is George's birthday and we're taking a day off ... no meal out this year but I've got a leg of lamb to roast and still have some fresh veg to go with it ... we'll open a bottle of wine and celebrate how lucky we are just now to be safe and well.

Tomorrow the work will start again ... we managed to get the pram hood on yesterday afternoon ... that was fun ... NOT ... getting soaking wet as we both stood underneath the dripping canvas fastening it to each of the supporting bars, holding each up in turn as the other struggled with the studs and other fastenings ... lots of fairly heated discussion going on too as you can imagine!  So ... tomorrow we (George that is) will waterproof all the canvases.

Although we cannot/will not invite anyone into our home for viewings, Still Rockin' is still up for sale, hopefully someone some where will see the adverts on Apollo Duck and on several other boat sale sites, and be ready and able to purchase as soon as this awful time of all our lives is over and done with.

Please, all of you, stay safe to stay well.

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