[Better late than never] Half 6 now….
Final stage on the Thames, taking in such fine points of interest as Teddington Lock, Richmond Lock and Brentford Lock.
Goldilocks. And the three bears.
Well, 2 bears.
Out of the 3 lock-keepers that is.
When I arrived at 7.40am. 2 hours after high tide, the lock-keeper told me the tide was ‘out’.
Having checked the times of the tides that day, I knew they were not ‘out’ but on the way out.
He then went on to say there would not be enough water beyond Richmond lock for me to travel beyond.
He then asked whether I’d booked the Brentford Lock.
A bit of a lecture really….
He wasn’t going to let me through because of the ‘lack of water’ at Richmond.
‘All the pontoons are paid for, you can’t use them’. I said there was a specific area for those waiting to use the lock (Hunters Wood), and I’d use them if I had to.
After running through the reasons not to let me through. Of which none turned out to be true, he opened the locks and let me and Bonnie go.
I carried on down to.
Got to Richmond. Loads of water. Not a thing to worry about.
Richmond is a low water barrier; at low tide it acts to prevent low levels at the stretch between Teddington and Richmond sinking to non-navigable levels.
There are 4 sluices that regulate the water.
2 hours either side of High Tide, these barriers are lifted, and river traffic can pass beneath the bridge.
At other times, shipping has to use the Lock at the side of the channel.
As I was a little late for the tidal lifting, I paid £8 to use the lock.
As I entered the lock, I checked with the lock-keeper about the water levels beyond.
‘Plenty there for you’ he said with a smile on his face. A narrowboat has 2ft draft.
I explained that the EA lock keeper had told me it was just going to be a trickle! Little more than a puddle! And that there was no chance of getting through Brentford.
When I got through RIchmond at 3 hours past high tide mark, there was about 15ft of water.
Dash down to Brentford
Once through Richmond, took about 20 minutes or so to get to Brentford.
No time at all.
I knew if there was any drama to happen, it would be here.
I was not disappointed.
There was no-one there when I got there, so I rang to CRT and got through to a girl called Anna, who told me a boat was booked to come through at 6pm, so sit tight and someone would turn up later.
That I did.
Tied the boat to the mooring posts. These are like a 16ft pole mounted on the side of the lock approach.
You tie your boat to the pole with the rope sliding up or down and keeping the boat level with the water.
Once I was happy this was working correctly, I went off to Morrisons and got some shopping.
Went to Halfords Chiswick for some engine oil.
People travel free on London public transport on a Sunday!
Came back, lit the fire and sat and worked on a video.
The regional manager from CRT phoned me when I was on the bus. He told me there was no boat coming at 6pm, they’d gone through on Friday, and that I’d have to wait until Tuesday to go through.
He then went on to try and make me a booking, but said he couldn’t because I’d booked less than 48 hours in advance.
That was the upshot.
I was going to be sat at the locks indefinitely. Floating up and down….
At least the radio and broadband worked.
Still, not ideal.
Just preparing my tea, and imagine my surprise when a boat pulled alongside at roughly 10 past 6pm…..
Turned out the first lot of information I got was correct. There WAS a boat booked to come through.
They were a little shocked and disgusted when I told them the CRT regional manager had told me that they had come through on Friday.
They were clearly on the system, as they were receiving automated emails not to miss their booking! They’d even received two email reminders that day.
Whilst I went off to continue cooking my dinner for a second. They went and asked around the houses facing onto the lock and got some not very helpful responses. The Polish guy backing onto the lock gave the name and phone number of the scrap merchant located behind the locks!
I took pity on these guys. They clearly didn’t even have the number for CRT switchboard on their phones which is kind of essential contact number for anyone who lives on the canal, and boaters in general I would have thought. But they didn’t have it, and were reduced to knocking on local doors.
Luckily, when the RM rang me earlier on the bus, he rang through on his personal mobile number, not through CRT switchboard.
Phoning the number of this Regional Manager, Markus. I got through, explained that the boaters he told me had gone through on Friday had turned up and passed the phone over.
Went off to continue cooking dinner.
Dinner was finished and I was half way through eating it when an ‘Emergency Lock-keeper’ CRT guy turned up roughly an hour later, Markus said he’d be there in 1/2 hour.
And open they did.
As it stood, I passed through Brentford at 7.40pm. A little later than I would have liked.
The CRT emergency lock-keeper. Or lock-keeper on call; the guy in attendance who eventually let us through.
When questioned about why a booking had been lost, and these guys were sitting there not knowing what was going on, despite receiving reminders, he just said, ‘the system doesn’t work very well at weekends’.
What a load of horseshit.
It works well enough to fire off reminder emails, yet not well enough for you or someone else to come and do their job.
When asked why they don’t man the lock at high tide during working hours. He just replied there was not enough traffic.
Even when there is enough traffic CRT don’t turn up.
Had I not been there, the other guy would have been in trouble. CRT switchboard closes at 4pm on a Sunday, he would have been through to voicemail and waiting until Monday morning until he got to speak to a human.
All to cut a few corners on costs.
To add insult to injury, the emergency lock keeper said he didn’t want me to go any further at night! (haha)
Boating at night on the canal. Not a big thing. People do it, maybe not all the time. Happens. Not really frowned upon.
I’ve even met people that ONLY boat at night…
…..I guess it was just his last pointless thing to say for the day.
Moving on to….
London Playing Fields
I’ve moored up next to these playing fields which I assumed I’d be able to walk through to the tube station.
On some investigation last night it turns out that’s not going to be the case.
Today I continue on toward my original destination, Greenford area on the Paddington Arm.
Until now, that’s all.
Here’s some pictures from today.