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Tour 2001

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The January TNC / Cutweb Thames Tideway Trip

Friday 5th January - Neil had not bothered to ready Earnest the day before, so lost most of the morning! Neil, Peter and Wendy (This day was to be a Junior TNC members cruise) eventually arrived at the boatyard, with supposedly everything in the Passat. This included Linda's bike, all food and drink (a LOT due to the number of people coming on the Tideway day!), bed linen, clothes, Scsi the parrot in small cage, Mandy the Whippet, Laptop plus assorted stuff, TV, CD/radio + CD's, Camcorder + stuff and kids toys. In other words, a rather full Passat! On arrival Neil started filling water tank (always left empty if we know we are not going out for a while) This would take at least an hour! Upon managing to get everything in the boat, Neil found that the bloody boots were missing, so had to make another trip home. In the intervening 30 minutes the kids made a reasonable job of making the beds and stowing the stuff (They both have had a life time of boating, so should be able to do this with their eyes closed!) Neil arrived back to the inevitable bickering over some inane matter, Wendy had ended up with the wrong pillowcase on her pillow! Eventually we shoved off at 11.45. 
We always moor bow in to our spot and the easiest way to wind the boat is to reverse right back to the far corner of the marina an attempt a turn in one from here. This is usually a bowthruster job. With the new rudder and bigger prop Earnest came round easily - just as well, as Neil had forgotten to switch on the bowthruster battery isolator! This stayed off until Neil wanted to play the stereo that evening, as Earnest's rather over size car stereo power amp is powered by the bowthruster battery. Earnest had only been moved back from the slip with it's new rear end bits and this new manoeuvrability showed great promise (no more 5 out of 10 from Keadby locky, when we are able to come in, under flood and not glance the un-opened gate!) When out of the marina (sharp 180 degree turn - breasted pair of boats moored opposite, came round in one, shook them about a bit though!) Neil opened Earnest up on the Denham straight, for a quick test - rather impressive bow wave and clocked just under 6mph on the GPS! We soon settled down to our normal cruising revs, at this, the boat obviously went faster than normal, but with less wash, probably due to lass thrashing from the blade.
No one about at Denham Deep and Uxbridge Locks. Peter did Denham on his own (now, still gate paddle less, but somewhat faster due to new ground paddles and lower gate paddles and some attempt to stop leaky gates.) At Cowley Lock Neil dropped Peter off directly after Bridge No 188, only to find a nb waiting. The captain told Neil that he had been waiting for some 20 minutes, as a residential cruiser boat had gone into the chamber to get water! Neil went right up to the gates and after a brief glaring session the boat reversed out, still connected up to the hose! They could not be bothered to have stopped below the lock and reeled more out. The other waiting boat then asked Neil if it was OK to go in with us. Neil replied of course it was, as it was meant to be their lock! 
We followed the other boat out, but soon lost them as they were going down the Slough Arm (Earnest has yet to do this!) After Bulls Bridge we turned left onto the Paddington Arm. Neil finds this section the most inimitably boring bit of canal in the country, well as far as Harlesden.  Captain Pete took over for his longest steer ever (over an hour - maybe his concentration powers are increasing!) During this time Neil tidied up and cleared out the crap from the Anchor locker and attached the warp round the bow T stud. By about 16.30 it was getting dark and Peter was getting a bit cold so Neil went out and steered through to Little Venice, where we stopped at 17.40. We stopped at the end of the line of moored boats, which was three back from the Paddington Stop pub footbridge. There was still grass here for mooring pins, about another boat length back, the towpath is solid concrete, so no mooring here, unless you have the proposed TNC Hilti gun, "fit yourself a mooring ring" service! There was only one other 60ft spot found, under the footbridge, in front of Mr T's nb Idleness.
 Linda arrived at 18.20 and we ate soon after this. Julian T arrived not long after this and Neil and Julian arranged to go to the pub later. The Bridge House was the nearest chosen venue. The London Pride was suspect, along with the Bass! After Neil returned back to Earnest to get "permission", Neil went back to Idleness to sample Mt T's somewhat better bottled Pedigree! It was in passing through the engine room of Idleness, that it dawned upon Neil how bloody big a Lister JP3 is - size matters! Neil was unaware that Julian has a completely boat trained cat - Smudge, who came in to check out Neil! 

Saturday 6th January - Neil got up late to the banging on the side hatch (7.40), from Andrew Hooke, who was coming for the two day version of the London Ring cruise. Andrew Hooke is the woodwork fitter that has his own company - Woodworks - who fits for R&D and fitted Earnest. Neil was poorly, with a hangover. It was one of those mornings, that you should have got up earlier to have a headache pill - the results of having it too late were inevitable! Julian T soon appeared, saying that as he was facing the wrong way he would reverse back to the Sanitary Station and Browning's Pool and wind there. Eventually at 9.00 we met up again and stated off. Another fine but coldish day. A free run down to Limehouse. Met breasted up working pair coming up Hawley Lock. During the final run down, Neil jumped ship and had a (very) brief session steering Idleness. He went away with the following impressions, how light the tiller was and the surging power of the JP3! We stopped on the towpath (13.00), to the left above Limehouse Lock and Julian T, then Neil went to chat to the Lockies in their turret office. They were complaining about the re-furbished Bow Lock (only one will now be operable). due to extra chamber work being necessary the project had gone way over budget and was still not finished. They also complained about how the locks were now not holding water and still caused the level in Limehouse basin to fluctuate. Julian had booked the lock from 7.00, the next day, but due to the daylight hours being a bit after this and the 7.30 - 7.45 arrival of Peter Wright and "The Beekies" we would not actually go out until around 8.00. Julian T also told Neil of his "cunning plan" to visit the River Wandle, just above Wandsworth Bridge and the waste transfer quay. The conditions would be perfect as it was only a neap tide and we would arrive there just before high water at this point (entry available 2 hours before and after high tide.) From past trips Neil can remember the entrance marked by a pair of  red or green light markers. Tina was faltering about giving Julian T permission, but Linda would not know! The River Wandle is just a short back water, that forks into two, after a railway bridge.
After a protracted chat with the Lockies, we decided to have a short trip up Limehouse Cut,  Julian T wanted to go shopping at the Three Mills Tesco and Neil wanted to look at the unfinished Bow Lock. We could not get away from the lockies, as there was much reminiscing on their behalf, about Limehouse, when still a working port, before the new smaller radial lock was constructed and even before Limehouse Cut actually connected with the Regent's Canal (Limehouse) basin- it used to exit though another lock and small basin only a couple of hundred yards away from Limehouse Basin. Another point of conversation, was the new development, to the back of the basin. Three new apartment blocks have been built over the cut and cover infill section at the back of the basin (the Limehouse link road tunnel is under here) These we decided were not too bad, though fairly adventurous, though not particularly "warehouse" style. The new block to the west of the Regent's Canal entrance to the basin was something else. The Lockies thought it was awful - looking somewhat like a large white jug kettle! Linda, being a Town Planner thought that they were all fine! It was also thought that the real reason for the re-building of Bow Locks, was to keep the level constant - and lower than a high Springs, so that the low land over the tunnel, could be built on - the now lack of tidal silting in Limehouse Cut and Bow Back Rivers was a side issue!
Andrew Hooke and
his mate who had put him up Friday night, went aboard Idleness and the girlfriend of said bloke came aboard Earnest - she got on with Linda - being another town Planner! We left Limehouse at 14.30 and was just about an hour trip to Three Mills, at the bottom of the River Lee. Everyone else went shopping, except Neil who walked back to Bow Locks, to view the conversion works. A concrete wall / covered with and earth bund in places separated the Lee from the navigation and this had been continued around Bow Locks. The abandoned of the two locks was still insitu, the seaward entrance blocked off by stop planks. New higher outer gates had been fitted at the bottom of the surviving lock, as well as another set of reversed gates to the top of the chamber, allowing the lock to be worked, when the level was a bit above the new constant Limehouse Cut / Basin level. 
At 16.00 we left to get back to Limehouse Basin and got there as light was fading, at around 17.00. Tina was unable to meet up with Julian T until later that evening due to looking after all our interests, at an IWA Council meeting. After dinner they came back to Earnest and we had an evening discussing Andrew Hooke's plans for his soon to be constructed 60ftish R&D shelled live aboard narrowboat. 

Sunday 7th January - The Beekies (Mr and Mrs, plus Jim the Cabin Boy) arrived at 7.35, after having taxied over from Ickenham, where they had stayed overnight in a somewhat confused guest house. Peter Wright arrived a few minutes late, at 7.50, due to being unable to find his way into the basin. Both narrowboats were soon in the waiting lock and the lady locky adopted the gentle approach of dropping the water from the radial gates. Being a neaps tide the drop was not that much and we were soon down. As the gates opened  a Cory tug with four large unladened rubbish barges shot past, probably better that we were a bit late! Passing through a fair bit of floating debris - mainly consisting of balloons and discarded Xmas trees! - we soon shot out into centre river. During this manoeuvre both Idleness and Earnest demonstrating their "big boys" Horns! 
It was a lovely dawn, it not a bit fresh. No other traffic until we met rowers, around Wandsworth. Much new development noticed since Neil passed through (this was last in 1996!) The Millennium Footbridge had a fair bit of  scaffolding underneath it, with straw hanging from it - some wag - probably Captain Beeky - said that due to disuse, birds had nested in it! (the wisps of straw is an old Thames bridge thingy, meaning reduced headroom.) Peter Wright and Captain Beeky did most of the steering - as usual Neil had his camcorder stuck to his head most of the time! Linda got over her "Tideway Tremors" by cooking lot's of bacon sarnies and plying the crew with numerous cups of tea - and stronger stuff!
Neil was aware of Julian T's possible intentions, re the River Wandle. Just upstream of the entrance Idleness did a sudden power turn, which as Neil was aware, was able to repeat, in front of the rapidly approaching rowing eight. When lined up with the entrance, Julian shouted out that it was an abort! as Tina had withdrawn permission at the last minute, due to the blinding sun right in our eyes, obscuring the passage! Idleness was not living up to its name and shot in front of the next approaching rowing eight. Neil punched the tide for a while to let this one pass, then did a good "draw opening" power turn to get back on course. The "Wandle Wiggle" was completed! This gave Earnest a chance to try out it's new found power and we were soon back to our fair distance following of Idleness. Fortunately there was no cup of tea transporting during this operation!
Many more rowers and support vessels now plied the river, all the way to Kew Bridge. Around Putney the flood was as good as counteracted by the amount of fresh coming down the Thames and it was a very sedate entrance to Brentford Gut (10.40). Thames Lock was a straight through affair, the top gates being used to pen us for licence inspection. At the Gauging Locks (11.00) Andrew Hooke said goodbye, as he had to get back to Brixton to pick up his van. Through the locks was easy work as we had a fair amount of crew off. Up Hanwell Flight Idleness and Earnest tried to do the paired entrance and exit routine, but were stopped by a few bottom gates that would not open completely and a badly placed workboat! No other boats about and a nice free run up to Uxbridge, where we both moored up on the 14 day VM, by the General Drinkalot (Elliot) pub. Julian and Tina went off to do a car shuffle and Linda had her bike assembled to go and fetch Mr Blobby. Linda appeared in an unfeasibly short time and dispatched the Beekies back to Ickenham to pick up the Beekymobile. Peter Wright walked into Uxbridge to get the tube home. After this Neil was relieved of command and we went home to have a bath and go out for a meal. This was in fact at the excellent, as ever Birothi, in Ickenham. We have subsequently been to the El Nomad Lebanese, in Ruislip, not all that and not anywhere as good as the excellent Cedar Lebanese in Teddington. After this Neil was dropped back at the boat, as he was to get it back to Harefield the next day. 

Monday 8th January- Neil eventually shoved off at 10.45, after a fair bit of clearing and packing up. There was some dispute about the "ownership" of Uxbridge Lock, but Neil relented after having the bottom gates shut on him. The other solo old dear coming down, somewhat apologised! Straight into Denham Deep lock and got back on the mooring at Harefield at 13.05. After a quick lunch the boat was emptied of all stuff and left with boiler on frost stat. The water has subsequently been dropped, an hour and a half job!


Johnson's Lock. Regent's Canal.

Commercial Road Lock, Limehouse basin beyond. Regent's Canal.

Entering Limehouse (Regent's Canal) Basin.

Linda's new boat? Limehouse (Regent's Canal) Basin.

Mt T take Andrew Hooke and his mate for a spin. Limehouse Cut.

Limehouse Cut.

Bow Locks lockies cottages. Limehouse Cut.

Bow Locks. River Lee Navigation.

And the same to you! River Lee Navigation.

Idleness at Three Mills. River Lee Navigation.

Three Mills. River Lee Navigation.

Three Mills. River Lee Navigation.

Three Mills. River Lee Navigation.

Bow Locks, the one that will be abandoned. River Lee Navigation.

This sluice will never work again! River Lee Navigation.

Bow Locks, the one that will eventually work! River Lee Navigation.

Tina ready for the off. Limehouse (Regent's Canal) Basin.

Peter Wright, jumps aboard as we are casting off! Limehouse (Regent's Canal) Basin.

Limehouse Lock. Limehouse (Regent's Canal) Basin.

Limehouse Lock. Limehouse (Regent's Canal) Basin.

Looking back at Limehouse Lock. There is now much more development around the entrance. Tidal River Thames.

The rubbish barges that fortunately passed in front of us. Tidal River Thames.

Just got into centre channel. Tidal River Thames.

Looking back at Canary Wharf. Tidal River Thames.

The Prospect of Whitby, a famous London pub. Tidal River Thames.

Wapping police boat station. Tidal River Thames.

Tower Bridge. Tidal River Thames.
Click on image for larger view.

Tidal River Thames.

HMS Belfast, still in Atlantic convoy camouflage colours. Tidal River Thames.

Looking back at dawn over Tower Bridge. Tidal River Thames.

Passing under London Bridge. Cannon Street Rail bridge and Station ahead. Tidal River Thames.

Idleness just passing under Cannon St Rail Bridge. Tidal River Thames.

The replica Golden Hind. Tidal River Thames.

Southwark Bridge. Tidal River Thames.

The Tate Modern at the old Bankside Power station. Tidal River Thames.

The wibbley wobbly Millennium Footbridge. Tidal River Thames.

The Blackfriars Bridges. Tidal River Thames.
Click on picture for larger view.

Sea Containers House and the old OXO building. Tidal River Thames.

Waterloo Bridge. London Eye beyond. Tidal River Thames.

Hungerford Rail bridge from Waterloo Bridge. Tidal River Thames.

Royal Festival Hall. Tidal River Thames.

Idleness going under Hungerford Rail bridge. Tidal River Thames.

Piers being constructed for the new Hungerford footbridge. Tidal River Thames.

Westminster Bridge and the Houses of Parliament. Tidal River Thames.
Click on picture for larger view.

London Eye. Tidal River Thames.

County Hall, Ken's old place! Tidal River Thames.

Time check anyone? Tidal River Thames.

Julian hopefully taking a picture of Earnest! Tidal River Thames.

Looking back at Westminster Bridge. Tidal River Thames.

The HP, we passed this while having our HP soaked bacon sarnies! Tidal River Thames.

Battersea Power Station. Tidal River Thames.

Grosvenor Rail and Chelsea Bridges. Tidal River Thames.

Albert Bridge. Tidal River Thames.

Albert Bridge. Tidal River Thames.

Battersea Bridge. Tidal River Thames.

Lots Road, the Underground power station. Tidal River Thames.

Chelsea Harbour. Tidal River Thames.

Eurostar going over Battersea Railway Bridge - going from North Pole depot to waterloo. Tidal River Thames.

Looking back downstream from Chelsea. Tidal River Thames.

Wandsworth Bridge. Tidal River Thames.

the Wandsworth Waste transfer quay. Tidal River Thames.

The entrance to the River Wandle - Wandle wiggle anyone? Tidal River Thames.

The River Cafe - a regular TNC meeting spot! (well once anyway!) Tidal River Thames.

The H A Rodds suppository. Tidal River Thames.

Hammersmith Bridge. Tidal River Thames.

Idleness passing Hammersmith Pier. Tidal River Thames.

The Blue Anchor pub at Chiswick. Tidal River Thames.

Fullers Griffin Brewery, hiding behind Chiswick Ait. Tidal River Thames.

Fullers Griffin Brewery. Tidal River Thames.

Chiswick Pier. Tidal River Thames.

Leaving Barnes Railway Bridge. Tidal River Thames.

The Watneys Stag Brewery at Mortlake, now the "home" of Budweiser! Tidal River Thames.

Chiswick Quay Marina. Tidal River Thames.

Kew Railway Bridge. Tidal River Thames.

The City Barge pub at Strand on the Green, once one of our regular TNC haunts, when Julian E lived in Turnham Green. Tidal River Thames.

Kew Bridge and water pressure tower. Tidal River Thames.

Idleness heads up Brentford Gut. Tidal River Thames.

Finally, new development in Brentford, just before the Gut. Tidal River Thames.

The old barge building sheds on Brentford Ait. Tidal River Thames.

Going up Brentford Gut, GU Thames locks in the distance. Tidal River Thames.

Captain Beeky, wearing the distinctive Beeky Hat, as immortalised by "Old Uncle Beeky". Brentford Gut. Tidal River Thames.


The photo everyone has to get! (photo - Julian Tether)

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