1st day on the Thames.
Snuck on last night and overnighted at the moorings at Kings Lock.
The rain started just after I left Decathlon last night. By the time I cycled back to the boat, I was soaked, so another night drying my clothes out on the fire.
So what…. The boat felt really snug in the rain.
Had a shower with all the hot water, and went to bed.
Woke up around 5.
EA River Cruising Licence
Got things rolling about 9. By about half past, I was looking at setting off.
Just as I popped out to set the locks, the lock keeper arrived,
When you move from the canals onto the rivers in the UK, you move within a different jurisdiction. All powered vessels have to register with the EA (environment agency).
This isn’t a long process. I did it with my lock-keeper this morning. Took about 10 mins.
You just need to give some details of the
- Length of vessel
- Home address
- Phone number
- Number of nights staying on the Thames
For this and the fee, they issue you with a little sticker which you can put in your window. It’s got the expiry date and the number of nights you’re valid on the Thames for.
If you don’t get this, it’s likely you’ll make it to the next manned lock before you’ll have to get one.
Like the buoyancy aid, it’s one of the requirements of navigating on the Thames.
They also issue you with a paper licence, like the one below.
On ‘yer way
All set. Ready for the 1st day of river navigation. Conditions remained fine.
Stopped for some lunch just the other side of Oxford.
Then later in the day at Abingdon, for a cup of tea.
Otherwise that was it pretty much. All day cruising.
All locks on the Thames, Osney and below, are mechanically operated.
Maybe 3 of them were without lock keepers, and I had to operate them myself.
It’s not a difficult process, and often, the machinery won’t let you make mistakes, like leave the paddles up, open the gates too soon due to it’s automated nature.
Takes the fun out of it doesn’t it?
I managed to lynch a a passer by in Oxford to close the locks for me so I didn’t have disembark the boat to close them, as it’s a long walk back along a number of jetties.
I asked him if he’d ever operated the locks before and how many times he’d walked past them.
He said he’d not used them before, and he walked past them daily! (opportunity) I asked if he’d like to help me and explained that I’d have to stop, get off the boat and walk all the way back up to close the gates and he said it wouldn’t be a problem.
I invited him over the fence with the ‘prohibited, no un-authorised access’, over to the machine console, and explained the controls which consists of four or five buttons which have to be pressed in sequence.
When we were ready to exit the lock, the electricity went off and the blue ‘power available’ light on the above diagram went off…….
When that happens you have to use a giant steering wheel with a nob on it to crank the gates open.
There’s a lever below to switch between opening the sluice and opening and closing the gates.
I then used this big wheel and assigned the lever to ‘gates’ and cranked it a few times with the nob. Hey presto the gates opened! It was quite heavy, and I could feel my lower back and legs complaining.
Once the gates were open, I was free to jump on and left my volunteer, Michael to close them up. Shook his hand and was on my way…
Alice in Wonderland
Was envisaged here by Lewis Carol whilst taking his nieces Alice, Edith and Lorina Liddell on a boating trip on the stretch of Thames I sailed down today.
I’ve marked the spot where he hired the boat and some of the places he visited, and some other spots of interest on my map below along with some photos.
Tomorrow, I’m going to start having to get a shift on.
Today it read 85 miles to Teddington locks at Abingdon (which you can see on the map).
I did 20 miles today and it’s Wednesday.
Not only do I need to get to Teddington, I need to catch the tide, get to Brentford and navigate up the Grand Union.
Tomorrow, I’ll get set early, and see exactly how far a FULL day will take me.
Some pictures from today.