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?