Saturday 12 August 2023


Today's Navigations : Wey, Thames

A day of quite mixed weather, mostly dry but one or two sharp showers, but interspersed by very bright blue skies. Before setting off we set up the anchor which we forgot to do on our previous three days from Reading to Weybridge!

First came Town Lock, just below our overnight mooring. The lock itself is reasonably straightforward except the lack of top gate footboards means a lot more trips over the tedious steep footbridge.

The real challenge comes on exit where, as the photo tries to show, a very sharp turn indeed is needed to get around onto the lower lock landing. (Yes, that is the angle of the lock to the river, not poor steering!) Christine managed it although it felt a long, long (almost never ending) turn!

In the past, when most of the boats were man (probably)-handled and pulled on ropes around the corner, this turning post would have been essential.

On then to Thames Lock, the end of our Wey trip. The lock keeper on duty today turned out too be the boat resident in Godalming who helped us find our excellent overnight mooring. He also is a relief weir keeper.

Homes on the lock island. Inspired by a typical waterside warehouse?

We filled up with water below the lock in the extra pound used to create an extra level to help boats over the bottom cill in the lock. It seems that the construction of one of the Thames weirs dropped the typical level at Weybridge Junction.

And so back out onto the much wider waters of the Thames. We took the longer route along the original line of the river, mainly to check out the rather good moorings - just as well we did not aim there as they were full but for space for a little one.

Just as we approached the junction back with Desborough Cut (which saves going around a large set of loops in the river) a large Dutch barge emerged - fortunately just far enough ahead not to cause us a problem.

The first of the two Thames locks for us today - Sunbury - was unfortunately not manned and also quite busy. Evidently, some boaters are just not used to having to fend for themselves and we were here for over three quarters of an hour, Much of that time we had to keep station in the middle of the lock cut as the landing was already full. No lock keeper means that each turn is much less full than it could be. When we eventually made it in we were in a group of seven very assorted craft from a large cruiser, towering two stories above us, down to a tiny outboard boat, with room for two.

It was now 1 o'clock and with no obvious place to stop we had to have lunch 'on the go'. There are many varied boating, yachting, rowing, skiffing clubs along the river. As we passed Aquarius, the sky suddenly turned from grey (and rather wet) to glorious blue.

By contrast, Molesey Lock was manned, is very large and we were all on our own!

Through in a fraction of the time.

Hampton Court mooring was another possible stop that we have enjoyed in the past but just as well not planned for today.

Ravens Ait (a small island as the name ait means) has a conference and event venue/restaurant but it seemed rather forlorn as we passed by. Perhaps it has not recovered from its enforced Covid closure.

Cruising down the river today took a lot of concentration as there were numerous small crafty of every description not actually as we did not spot a pedalo!) Some do not know the correct side to be on, others changed direction just ahead of us, others came out from the side with no warning. We had not seen any sailing craft until just after Kingston. The wind had picked up and we were concerned to estimate the direction of one of the dinghies that was trying to catch every breath of the wind and sail on the edge of its gunnels. Alas, they over cooked it just ahead of us and tipped flat onto the water. We slowed down and kept well clear as it was taking very bit of their energy to right themselves which they did eventually.

As we neared Teddington (the lock is for tomorrow) a large trip boat came out at speed - not it is not a real paddle ship! We tied up on the long lock moorings. A little later, Christine went to buy a one day licence, an overnight mooring fee and check out our departure tomorrow. Actually, the timings are largely set by CaRT who operate Thames Lock at Brentford but the crucial factor is passing through Richmond when the tidal gates are open. It is possible to pass at any time, via the lock at one side, but that is a cost and needs to be organised.

12.9 Miles - 4 Locks (5 if you include the pound gate at the start of the Wey)

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