Friday, 19 July 2013

Braving Tidal Waters

Phew!  We've been out on the tidal Thames this morning from Teddington downstream to Brentford.  Actually it all went pretty well with only the final turn onto the Grand Union at Brentford a bit hairy. By this point we were doing about 7 mph, mostly because of the ebbing tide and you have to time your turn to hit the fairly narrow creek that leads to Thames Lock.

On Thursday we left our nice mooring behind Desborough Island on the old course of the river and carried on downstream through Walton.

This is the new bridge at Walton which we had not seen before.  (In case you're wondering any stripyness in the sky is because I reduce the file size of the photos on this blog to ease the process of uploading them.)

Apart from the name of this narrowboat, 'Tardis Two' we also found it intriguing that it had 'L' plates - you can see one just to the right of the rear fender.  There was one on the bow too.  Not sure what the story behind this was.

After a stop at Molesey and a morning drink (non-alcoholic as the sun was still below the yard arm) with Helen's cousin, Nina, we carried on downstream to Kingston for an early stop as the temperature was once more in the thirties.

After Molesey Lock and Hampton Court Bridge we passed the famous palace itself.

Approaching Thames Ditton we passed this crane.  They were either trying to drive it onto two barges side by side or possibly to drive it off them back onto dry land.  We watched as we carried on downriver but it didn't fall in the water.

At Thames Ditton there are some strange craft including this unusual blue and yellow vessel called "Ark Nouveau".

And here we are moored just below Kingston Bridge. 

In the afternoon we cycled to the first house we had when we got married, which is on the edge of Kingston.  It looked rather sad and clearly needed some attention but at least it is still standing.  We found this strange art installation in the town made of phone boxes:

Today we set off to reach Teddington Lock around 11.30 to fit in with the high tide.  The idea is to lock down onto the tidal river just before high tide.  The five miles down to Brentford start off in slack water but by the time we made the turn off the river at Brentford our speed was 7 mph due to the tide.  (How do I know this?  I have an app on my phone which can tell me our speed by reference to satellites.)  Here are some pictures of our tidal excursion:

Here we are just leaving Teddington Lock onto the tidal river.  The boat in front is called 'Flying Kipper' which is a splendid name and beyond that is 'Kingfisher'.

This is a bit further downriver and please notice that we have overtaken the other boats - Leo was going splendidly.  She seems to like rivers.

 And we overtook this one too, having given the correct horn signal first - two long blasts followed by one short - which means "I wish to pass on your starboard side".  It seemed to work as they did move over.

Here is Richmond Bridge.

And here we are going through Twickenham Bridge.  You can see the Richmond Half Tide Lock and Weir beyond Twickenham Bridge.  The weir there is open fully for 2 hours either side of high water.  Otherwise you have to go through the lock beside the weir.  We cruised straight through.

And we met the lifeboat!  At first we thought they had spotted something dreadfully wrong with Leo, but then we saw that they were each carrying an ice cream. We think they'd just popped down to the lock to buy them.

Here we are about to go under the bridge which has the weirs lifted up into the structure to allow free passage.  The buildings to the right are around the lock.

Approaching Brentford it becomes apparent that the tide is going out - the levels here were a foot or more down on the high tide level.

Finally we spotted the entry into the Grand Union Canal at Brentford Creek.  You then have to turn across the fast flowing tide in good time to make sure that you drive the boat into the narrow entrance rather than getting swept on down under Kew Bridge.  Well it all worked fine and this is the welcome view that then greeted us:
Thames Lock at Brentford
Above this lock you are technically still on tidal water but only at high Spring Tides.  Through the winding creek and another lock - the Gauging Locks - and Leo was finally on non-tidal waters again.

Here we are coming up the first part of the Grand Union Canal which is really part of the River Brent.  Note the wearing of life jacket, a recommendation we follow on tidal waters.

This is Gallows Bridge (perhaps there was a gallows nearby).  It was forged in 1820 near Birmingham and was probably brought here by canal.

Tomorrow we plan to go up the Hanwell Locks (9 locks up to the top from where we are) and then turn right at Bulls Bridge on the Paddington Arm which leads to, you've guessed it - Paddington.  Little Venice, close to Paddington, provides the link to the Regents Canal and from there we are aiming to join the Lee Navigation going North from London.

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