Wednesday, 1 October 2008

30th Sept - Maidenhead to Sunbury

A call to Teddington lock confirmed what I thought I'd worked out from the internet - that the high tides weren't ideally placed for a daytime passage up to Brentford. My best bet was to aim for weds 1630, getting into Brentford just before six - after that the tides get too late and yet the early one is still too early for a few days. So dawdling was put off - I can live without seeing Maidenhead one more time - so after waking up to rain, I set off in moderate drizzle...

At Bray lock a few lock keepers were gathering, including the guy I'd been chatting to at Boulter's lock the previous night - sadly, they were all gathered for a funeral, the lockkeeper's wife who also acted as a relief lock keepers up & down the system over the years. Lock keepers on the Thames may have an apparently idyllic job, but they don't even get paid breaks - they aren't actually paid from 1700-1730, but are then expected to work until six before going home (although of course from October they're on shorter hours anyway). Add to that the EA selling off the lock cottages, the homes of the lock keepers in some cases, the relatively low pay in the first place, and you feel that they're being taken advantage of a bit. I used to be told I could earn more, but I have the privilege of working for the BBC - I think it must bit a bit the same for them. That. and they can't stay in their nice little offices in the rain, as boats keep on coming along and disturbing them.

Topped up with diesel at Datchet - 22l (86p/l), which is reasonable for three days coming down from Oxford. I wasn't sure how much faster I was running the engine that normal, and even started getting paranoid the fuel gauge was stuck, but whatever, it's good to know I've plenty of fuel.

At Sunbury lock I asked about the moorings shown in the guide book on the south side, and he said 'ah, you've got a Nicholson then - it lies'. He did however direct me to the backwater behind the lock, where there was a nice spot to moor up by a bit of a park, close to the 'village' part of Sunbury, which did nicely.

For the last mile or two I'd be aware of something on the prop - once moored, I got the hatch up to find various bits of plastic cable & carrier bag. I did, however, note how clear the water was, and once I'd removed the unwanted additions was able to have a good look at the prop - it was fairly visible from the bank, too.

I'd missed looking out for Chris' old dutch barge 'Gertrude' above the lock, and his house alongside the river, but he was dragged down to the Pheonix after putting his children to bed for a few drinks. We'd shared a relatively close to the wire techincial hitch on the first day of the new show, but putting that behind us we chatted about all sorts of marvellous things. He's missing living on a boat, or even being able to travel a little on the river, and is looking out for a smallish canal/working boat to fit on his 40' frontage. He'll find something lovely, I'm sure.

So - plentyt of time to get to Teddington today (famous last words), but its actually sunny (if a little windy) to time to get my shit together and head off...

22 miles, 6 flg and 8 locks

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