It was pouring with rain this morning so we donned our wet weather gear for the very short journey from Woolhampton to the marina – 1 lock, 1 swing bridge and 1 mile. The whole journey only took us 0.7 hours and half of that was spent working the lock. The River Kennet was flowing quite fast as it entered below the lock and was likely to take us the 100 yards towards the road bridge pretty swiftly. The bridge must be swung before you leave the lock as the river makes it impossible to stop – and if you can’t stop the bridge will peel the roof off the boat as easy as opening a tin of sardines! James got ‘Chance’ positioned at the mouth of the lock and Doug went to swing the road bridge - then phoned James to give him the all clear.
‘Chance’ at the starting gate. This manoeuvre is a local spectator sport and, even though it was chucking it down with rain, there were people waiting and watching for a possible “miscalculation”.
Half way through the 100 yards and successfully past the river entry (notice the boat opposite the river with all the tyres protecting it). At this point ‘'Chance’ has achieved a nought to eight mph in about 10 seconds and luckily kept to the correct side ready for the approach to the road bridge (which is typically at an awkward angle to the line of the river).
Full power – like a cork out of bottle! A bit of a broadside but at least we’re through. The green floating fenders are positioned to stop boats going head first into the bridge supports as it’s quite a sharp left turn to get lined up with the bridge. This is the point where the onlookers expect to be entertained! Luckily they were disappointed on this occasion.
Excitement over and into calmer waters. The only snag at this stage being that James couldn’t stop the boat on the other side of the bridge to pick Doug up and, because there was nowhere along the bank to pull in, he had to walk the half mile to the marina.
James about to guide ‘Chance’ into the marina entrance. Luckily the entrance is quite wide and the speed of the water is not such a problem at this point. (All photos courtesy of Doug who was standing on the bank watching!)
In the marina James was met by manager, Mick, who showed him to our pontoon. Luckily there was no real wind to speak of so reversing into the space was an easy job with Doug arriving on foot before James had time to properly tie up. We’re in the new part of the marina (which was being dug out when we were here with our last boat for the winter of 2007/8) where the berths have two boats on each side and, as we use the rear deck for general access, reversing in gives us less pontoon to walk along with Oscar.
We had time to get cleaned down, hooked up to the shore power and a cup of tea (plus James was able to meet some of the neighbours with a nice but chilly chat with Bill and Cathy on nb ‘Wysiwyg’ – the very shiny green boat at the far right of the photo). At 3 o’clock one of James’ past work colleagues, who lives quite close, came with her son to see us for a couple of hours.
Doug with Neil and Thelma having one of those all important catch up chats over tea and cake. It was lovely to see them again.
This evening we’re being treated to a firework display a short distance away from the marina (as we were at Woolhampton last night). Lucky lucky!