Wednesday, 15 November 2006

We came, we saw, we conquered

Pyford Marina to Basingstoke Canal 0 locks and 2 ½ miles
On Wednesday 7th November we left the River Wey and at 9.30am entered the Basingstoke Canal. They would only issue a 3 day license as the canal is only open as far as lock 7. The ranger unlocked the padlock and opened lock 1 to let us in and will return on Friday morning to open lock 6 to let us out.
Traversing this canal has been a challenge not unlike when we traversed the Huddersfield narrow canal in March 2004. Low water levels, untold foreign objects, reeds and lilies were a constant problem which was a bit of a let down because the locks on the canal are probably some of the best kept and maintained in the country. We were told we could go as far as Arthur’s bridge which is where the last winding hole is situated. When we got there we found a huge “U” shaped winding hole with posh houses all around it. We then tried to turn around but got stuck in the mud in the winding hole (it needs dredging) which bought a couple of the householders to their windows as we made a lot of noise and stirring up the mud which let off a lot of smelly gas in our attempt to turn. Eventually we succeeded and then stern hauled the boat back up the canal to the Bridge Barn pub which was a couple of hundred metres further on from where we had winded. The canal had only recently been re-opened since August after the first serious rainfall in a very long time but is still blocked by a slip near Deep Cut locks.
The return journey was much the same except the ranger Andy, followed us down through the 6 locks to seal them up with a concoction not dis-similar to compost. It was very effective in sealing up the leaks. Just above lock 3 we had reported a bike in the water so Andy had a fish around with a long pole with hooks on the end to see if he could locate it. Well we all got a big surprise when he fished up a computer chair, a steel chair frame, a street name plate complete with mountings and concrete footings, a kids scooter, a barrel, two car tyres AND four bikes all within 50 yards. (See attached photo) He then had to call up for reinforcements to collect all the booty and take it away.

Apart from getting stuck numerous times and not being able to use some of the best moorings due to a large reed bed or deep mud we enjoyed ticking off another canal on our been there, done that list.

Basingstoke Canal 12 locks and 10 miles (There and back)
Its good news for the canal that the Surrey County Council have had a change of heart over the funding and running of the canal and it’s future looks brighter.
We are now back on the Wey moored just below the Pelican pub ready for our entry on to the Thames on Saturday and it is just starting to rain ever so lightly.

Woodham Junction to Thames Lock
After overnight rain, Saturday morning dawned overcast and mild when we set off for the Thames Lock. We were locked out onto the Thames in the company of another narrow boat called Indigo Blue with a Polish and Irish crew so it was a real league of nations between the 2 boats. As we were in no great hurry Indigo Blue soon left us in their wake. Our first priority was to prepare the boat for the Thames so we needed fuel, water and a pump out. We called in at Walton marine but they directed us to Shepperton marina directly opposite on the other side of the river. We carefully maneuvered our way into the marina and onto the water supply and pump out jetty, that was easy. After obtaining a token for a self pump out we were shown where to go to get diesel and this meant reversing onto another jetty in between all those very, very expensive plastic/fibreglass gin palaces. Nerve wracking is putting it mildly because a breeze had sprung up pushing us away from the jetty but Derek performed a perfect 4 point turn and got onto the fuel jetty without touching a thing.
On our arrival at Sunbury lock we found the lock keeper out to lunch. We could have locked ourselves through but as we needed to buy a Thames licence we stopped for lunch until the keeper arrived. With this legality taken care of we set of to find an overnight mooring and finished up mooring opposite Platts Eyot where we stayed until Monday morning so that we were handy to Otter Marine where we had arranged to get the Mikuni central heating looked at because of an exhaust leak.

Weybridge to Platts Eyot 1 lock and 4 miles
On Monday morning it only took 15 minutes to find Otter marine and another 45 minutes for Tony (alias the Otter) to run a few spanners over the machine and cure the problem and we were under way again. We are now moored at Kingston upon Thames where we found the local launderette and caught up with a weeks washing. Dot can’t wait to get a washing machine on board now we have the power to run it.

Platts Eyot to Kingston on Thames 1 lock and 4 miles
Plans for tomorrow are a train trip to Watford to register Gypsy Rover with British Waterways, check with Teddington lock to see what the locking times are for the next couple of days and a stop off at Wimbledon on the way back to Kingston to have dinner with Dot’s daughter Tracey.

The more observant of you will notice that I have changed the colour of the font back to black! This is because an avid follower wants to print it off for someone without a pc. Easier and cheaper to read and print in black.

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