Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Captain's Log - Tuesday 5th October

A bit of trepidation today as we set off down the Thames, not really knowing what to expect. We went through the last British Waterways Canal Lock - Isis Lock at just after 7am, with just a little daylight and a bit of rain.
Isis Lock Bridge

Sharp right turn onto the Thames
We decided to work the first Thames Lock ourselves which means just pushing some buttons, there was a strong weir pulling us one one side, but eventually we did get through and then waited for the lock keeper to arrive at 9am. Some racing boats with crews of 8 went through the lock in the meantime. I had also been attempting to make bread during this time, it ended up proving an hour too long, I then put it in the unregulated heat oven, eventually it came out a bit flat but ok. The lock keeper was sick for the day, so we we planned to buy our licence at the next lock, that however had no credit card facilities so we eventually bought at the third for £93.

We moved onto the main river, which seemed calm with very little current and made good progress. The scenery was again fairly wild with little sign of man, much of the Thames lined with woods and grazing pastures. We made good progress with a speed of 5 mph, virtually all the way.

Breakfast was taken on the run being just a bacon sandwich which was fine.
Ducks living in a nice house
A boat owning Heron

It was great to see the geese flying at speed in formation at low level along the Thames, also there are many heron, we probably saw around 15 during the day, many of them on the Thames just ignored us as we passed.

The journey proved uneventful, through Abingdon, past Didcot power station and down to Wallingford. I noticed that we were only passing a boat going in the other direction about once per mile, with few going our way too. The weather was steadily getting warmer and brighter all the time and even on the open water only a light fleece was required to keep warm.

Each lock has an associated weir to keep the river levels moderated, mostly the river splits in one direction for the weir and the other direction for the lock, the weirs are well fenced off to stop boats inadvertently going into them.

Thames Weir
This really is a great time of the year to do the trip, due to the lack of other boats, mostly we were the only boat in view, also the fabulous autumn weather and the lovely light in the later afternoons which makes for lovely warm coloured photographs.

Lunch was Spaghetti, with pork sausages again made by our excellent chef Heinz, with my home made bread and a stout like beer. We took this at Cleeve Lock, where the lock keeper was just starting his one hour lunch break. We then realised that a lock keepers task consists of safely keeping boats moving through the locks and tending the lock gardens, an interesting combination.

Cleeve Lock

Combining lock keeping with gardening -an agapanthus and lifebuoy
At the next lock we saw a police helicopter hovering overhead for several minutes, it eventually landed in the next field.

Police Helicopter
As the afternoon wore on again the weather was getting better and the sun was now out again, the made good progress towards Pangbourne. Passing through some lovely meadows full of wild birds, we eventually arrived at Pangbourne at around 5.45pm.

More ducks on water and a nosy swan

Girl walking with ducks

Entering Pangbourne early evening
Whitchurch Lock - Pangbourne

Wild Sorrel at Whitchurch
The unexpected bonus of the trip so far is that we do not have to queue at locks, there are very few other boats around at this time of the year. In fact we found that locks keeper's were phoning ahead with the next lock tending to be ready for us when we arrived. Because of the we made up nearly three hours on the day, and were able to spend the night moored up at Pangbourne Common, rather than Wallingford.

We ate at riverside pub near the weir at Pangbourne "The Swan", the evening was so warm and calm we sat outside right on the river. We both had steak and ale pie and chips and beer. Another greatly satisfying day, left us feeling much happier about continuing down the Thames. 


  1. Good to see you're making progress.
    We've had the Captain's log, blog & slog - am worried what the entry for the Captain's Flog might be?

  2. Thank you Simon all going very well so far.

  3. Oh, just though of another..."Captain's Bog".. careful with that home cooking guys !!!