We're now safely ensconced in our winter mooring at Hambleden Marina ... phew!
Wednesday (30th October) was the day we had hoped to make the journey downstream to the marina from but all the reaches between here at Reading to beyond Hambleden Lock were back on red boards ... no go areas.
We walked down to Caversham Lock to take a look at the flow from the weir stream, and because we'd not done it before ...
walked over the weir to View Island where we could see that the water from the open sluices was ferocious.
through the woodland paths ...
View Island is a joint venture between Reading District Council and the Environment Agency for the conservation of wildlife and for the pleasure of local inhabitants.
This tree carving saw us leave the island and walk back to Still Rockin' discussing what we'll do for the remainder of the day. A decision was made to go into Reading as there was a couple of items we needed to source. The day was successful and we had lunch out at Bills to save me having to cook at home ... brill!
Nothing had changed on Thursday either and we took another bus trip into Reading via Hambleden to look at the flow there ... it didn't look too bad, we've certainly seen it worse than this.
We had lunch out again too, this time at Burgers in Marlow on the way home as we had some post to collect. Another day not having to cook!
Friday ... we've had a few dry days and when we checked the EA's listing found that all but one of the reaches we needed to cruise were on stream decreasing boards; we rang Sonning Lock Keeper who informed us that the reach below was no longer on red ... we can go ...
There were about five young adolescent swans looking for food at 9:20 as we got ready to cast off.
We took down the pram hood over the stern deck ... one less thing to worry about should we get pushed/pulled into any tree branches or, heaven forbid, get too close to Sonning Bridge supports ... let's hope not!
Leaving our mooring by the park and winding to face downstream ...
as the cygnets took to the air and we descended Cavendish Lock an fought our way through the extremely strong weir stream
Looking back as we pass Tesco and the entrance to the Kennet and Avon
and continue in the sunshine although the breeze had a bite to it.
Sonning Lock next where we pulled in on the lock landing and George walked down to the bridge to see what the flow was like. When he returned and said he felt that it would be fine so I walked down to the lock as it was on self service. The lock keeper appeared and said that he'd see us through and we got chatting whilst George brought Still Rockin' in. I mentioned to the lockie that my worst nightmare would be if we met another boat coming through the bridge as it's on a very awkward bend in the river. The lockie hesitated for a moment and said that there are two boats coming upstream but that Shiplake is quite a distance away and that we would be ok and I relayed that information to George ...
so out we go ... I was more than a bit anxious
Saying cheerio to the lovely lock keeper who is waiting to move with his family into the lock house behind him which is currently undergoing some renovation work
It's not far from the lock to the bridge and after a few minutes we heard a long toot from a horn ... boat or car? We sounded our horn and slowed down a little ...
and there was dutch barge Elsie coming through ... I went inside ... I didn't want to interfere with how George would handle this manoeuvre ...
we passed a bit close as this picture shows through the nets of the kitchen window
and through the cratch (at the bow) I could see that Still Rockin' was now being lined up for the largest arch ...
straight through the middle ... easy, peasy!
There was a bit of a flow from the weir as we past ... all good.
Looks like a mill pond
Apart from motoring through that weir stream all was good
Early in the afternoon the sun broke through and took the chill from the air
We can see a hire cruiser moored slap bang in the middle of the landing at Marsh Lock (Henley) and there's also a small motor boat heading that way too. There is no-one on the hire boat, so we'll share the lock with the small boat.
Whilst I set the lock George goes to the tail gate to look at the weir stream. The motor boat comes in first and I asked him to go to the end and tie up on the right as George prefers to line up in a lock on the left because that's where the steering wheel is. Unfortunately as George brought Still Rockin' round the hire boat the strength of the weir dragged the bow over and there was a glancing blow on the lock's leading wall ... only paint, no real damage done.
The weir stream at the tail of the lock doesn't look too bad from here but it was deceiving ... it took George a lot of revs both in reverse and forward to get Still Rockin's stern close to the landing to allow me to reboard.
in actual fact it was really rough ...
but lots of revs got us safely through
to the last lock of the day ... Hambleden
I had to smile while waiting for the lock to fill, at this pair of Mallards eating an apple. The apple eventually got close to the edge of the lock and dropped in ... it was quite funny to watch them both standing there looking for it. They both dropped into the water and were still there when we left
Waiting for the lock to empty
That's Hambleden Marina as we leave the lock and there's a motor boat coming upstream preventing us from turning left into the mill stream ...
so we continue downstream ...
until we could wind (turn around) ...
we need to turn right now immediately past the bush down this side of the two cruisers
a tight squeeze but at least the river is high as we're usually dragging the hull along the bottom when we arrive here!
bend round to the left now ...
and we can see our pontoon
Five and a half hours after setting off from Reading ...
this is home for the next five months.
What else would make our home-coming better?
The local kingfisher came to say welcome!