Thursday, 31 May 2007

Abrupt halt.

3 Locks 4 Miles. Now moored at Culham.
Total of 337 locks, 464 miles, 16 Tunnels and 8 lift bridges since Nov 2006

This morning started out with light rain with conditions supposedly improving during the day. With this glimmer of hope we decided to go back up through Abingdon lock for water and a pump out. This we managed quite well considering the river was still flowing quite fast. The run back down the lock and beyond was a bit more interesting. After we had cleared the lock we had to negotiate the rapids from the weir and it was rougher than when we had passed through them earlier because we really got bounced around. It was just like being at sea.
Once we had cleared this obstacle we had to steer across the river into the left channel where the trip boats Goring and Reading had been moored. Luckily they were not present probably due to the inclement weather so that gave us a bit more river width to use. After this nothing phased us even going through eddies on the lower side of Abingdon bridge.
While we were watering up etc 3 young people came down river in a punt fully laden which we thought a bit fool hardy but the lock keeper let them through. About half an hour or so later we passed them again and it was 2 men and a young lady. One was doing the pole work while the other 2 were snuggled under covers trying to keep warm and dry.
We eventually reached Culham cut where we nearly ran over 3 men in an inflatable runabout as they appeared to be attempting a fish count or cull as they were trying to put out a large fine mesh net. Once in the cut the river was as calm as a canal. When we reached the lock all the wheels fell off so to speak as the warning board had changed to red and the lock keeper advised us to moor up below the lock and wait for conditions to improve.
This we have done along with 2 other boats who are heading in the same direction. What happened next has got us all flabbergasted. The 3 youngsters in the punt came through the Culham lock and punted their way down river through the weir rapids just below where we are moored. When we came through Culham lock the lock keeper gave us a Red Caution card stating that un-powered vessels are advised to moor up on a Yellow Caution and yet these guys were let through on a Red Caution, beats me. We have heard that there is a military exercise going on around here somewhere and perhaps they are military personnel.
Due to the enforced wait we decided to take a walk into the
village of Sutton Courtenay which is a quaint little village which you would never see by road as it is off the beaten track. This beautiful village boasts a 16th century pub ( as shown in photo below) and a 17th century manor house.

We have been told by the lock keeper that if there is no more heavy rain they will start closing the weirs tonight or tomorrow morning and we should be clear to proceed.

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