Sunday 23 July 2023

Frouds Bridge

Today's Canal - Kennet and Avon

A better day - weather-wise, with good sunny spells for much of the time and pleasantly warm, but not hot. (No El Nino here, please!)

We were much later than usual in setting off - leaving our mooring just below yesterday's last swing bridge.

We were very close also to our first lock of the day: Old Heale's. Although deeper than the average or the K and A, it was not difficult.

And then, by contrast. came the (in)famous Woolhampton Lock and Bridge. The lock itself is quite standard. although also deep.

Closely following is the mechanically operated road bridge. There is a space to stop in between but, under most conditions, this is  not safe to use. Hence boaters are advised to wait at the tail of the lock until they are sure that the bridge is open and clear. 

The problem is that the river, now quite fast flowing, even today, come in almost immediately below, at right angles to the direction of navigation. This means using high throttle to avoid being swept in to the moored boat on the opposite bank.

There is then a sharp S bend before the bridge with the confused water trying to push the boat into the side of the abutment, with the landing only just beyond. Once arrived at the landing, the steerer, or crew if you have any, must quickly make secoure, tying the stern rope first to avoid it being pulled out into the main stream. Then, someone has to go back to the lock and shut the gate!

The next river section has several tight bends with the navigation leaving the river just before the entrance to Frouds Bridge Marina, where we will be heading on Tuesday. in the photo, we came from the right, with the marina off top the left. We are now in the Aldermaston Wharf direction.

We moored for lunch in the place where we stopped overnight on the way up. We decided this would be a good place for tonight (and tomorrow's car shuffle day). But first we had to turn around and we also needed the services at Aldermaston Arm.

Only about ten minutes to Aldermaston Lock, just above the short arm where the services and winding hole are located. Going down and returning all got a bit busy at the photogenic times and so we have no more picture for today. a brief alarm - as the lock was nearly empty the boat started to heel over significantly. Mike realised what was happening and managed, luckily, to prise the boat away from whatever was catching it on the side. Despite looking very closely at the empty lock side, we could not see anything that would cause this! But we did drop abruptly!

Winding (turning around) is always a bit of a test but here there is the busy road lift bridge just beyond the space. After going into the arm and completing our service (except that the water tap was so slow that we abandoned that task once we had enough to last until Tuesday) we began to reverse out and make our turn back to the lock.

Before we had finished the move,  the bridge started to lift and then a long hire boat from the nearby base emerged without waiting to look if the hole was free. It was closely followed by another boat, ready to go up the lock. In addition, a boat coming down filled the lock (which we had left empty) We moved to the waiting area and Mike stepped ashore with the centre line to await the lock becoming ready. Alas, two things then happened: firstly, Mike knocked the throttle into gear as he got off which then pulled the stern right out into the winding hole. Fortunately, he secured the centre line before the boat escaped entirely but he could not pull it back in again. Then before he could sort this situation out, the boat coming down emptied the lock with full force, again pulling our boat back into the main channel! In the end all was sorted but we would rather not have provided entertainment for the inevitable onlookers. (No-one looks when you get it perfectly!)

We continued back to our lunch time mooring, close to Froudts (road) Bridge, ready for tomorrows travel which begins with a short walk up to the main road to catch the 1 Jetblack Bus into Reading.

3.8 Miles - 4 Locks 

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