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The 1994 Cruises

The tidal River Avon and Severn Estuary

This is part of the 1994 Tour

19/7/94 We arrived in the Floating Harbour in Bristol and went straight up St Augustine's Reach to "pole" position mooring (15.30) just below the ferry stop. Neil went to pay 9 mooring fee for the night and confirm departure as the pilot had just given us the go ahead! Of course the Harbour Master moaned about where we were moored, by said it was alright as we were leaving early. That night went to a splendid Italian Restaurant, recommended by Julian's wife Jackie.

20/7/94 Left moorings at 4.30! We were soon followed by another pair of narrowboats who shouted out that they were doing the passage as well, but sharing one pilot. (One of these boats was "Emperor", Small & Co from the River Wey I think). Left entrance lock at 5.30, brilliant sunshine was soon burning off the mist, we knew we were in for a good passage! John Fleming had slight miss reading of buoy at entrance to River Avon! Avonmouth Signal station's serious Tannoy put us right from a mile away! Arrived at Portishead pool at 7.00, the sea like a mill pond (member's of the MPBC please note!) We had the normal fun time of using anchor for first time. As is normally the case we did not think that it was holding on the first attempt, but it was! We moored exactly where Ken had told us to about 200ft from lock gates and 50ft from breakwater. As well as us three narrowboats, there was a cruiser heading back to Cardiff. As we landed on mud at 10.20 we used the barge pole stuck in the mud to position the stern, so we were pointing the right way.
At 13.20 in blazing sun we re floated. At 14.45 the two pilots waved at us from the rickety old breakwater. We tied the anchor warp and chain as tight as we could, Neil then ran over it and going at it a bit. It came out of the horrible mud first time. 
At 15.00 precisely we picked up Ken, the pilot. He was a cheerful, if not slightly camera shy bloke. He soon put us at rest by offering to steer and throwing his lifejacket and radio inside! For our 90 he thought he should steer and give us a guided tour. We settled down to listen of his horror stories of the estuary!
Neil was told to steer into port. This he found was "interesting"! We had got slightly ahead of our timings, by Ken taking a slightly different route than he would with a ship! The Severn still had not come of flood as we crabbed into the out stretched arms of Sharpness breakwaters. Ken told Neil to aim for the Grain silo down stream! Soon the breakwaters became solid and the final approach to the tidal basin was almost a mill pond. Although the passage was perfect, you got the feeling from the way that the tiller felt and the way that the boat moved that there was an almost unseen unstoppable force under you!
We were tied up on the Inner Basin at 16.50, soon the two trad narrowboats arrived and rafted up with us. "Eurolady" then immediately departed and Ken shot off up the ladder, saying that he was taking out "Shetland Trader, a kelp carrier, that was waiting in the emptying lock. Soon Ken was waving goodbye and we headed off for the entrance lock. At 17.24 we were leaving the lock. We passed the Bath Stone Companies working narrowboat, "Elaine" (I think it was called "Dory"?) taking stone to repair Windsor Castle via the estuary and the K&A. That night we went to the visitor moorings at Purton and went to the "Berkley Arms". This amazing pub is only open some of the time, it is more like a farmhouse than a pub. It is on and has superb views over the Severn. On the way to the pub we did the classic walk by all the old beached barges, these were put there to shore up the banks. It was a hot and sultry night, although we had started early we all stayed at the pub until we were chucked out!


Early Morning start from St Augustine's Reach. Yes, that really is the time! Bristol Floating Harbour.

Tidal entrance lock to Bristol Floating Harbour. We have a surprise pair following us. Bristol Floating Harbour.

Next stop New York! Tidal River Avon.

Clifton Suspension Bridge. Tidal River Avon.

Coming out of the Clifton Gorge. Tidal River Avon.

Glorious morning as sun burns off mist. Amazingly this a totally untouched image! Tidal River Avon.

M5 Bridge. Tidal River Avon.

Avonmouth Docks Signal station that have a really serious Tannoy system! Severn Estuary.

After heading for Wales we swing back to Portishead to anchor / beach boat. He were we waited for the last few hours of flood, when we pick up the pilot. Severn Estuary.

Anchored in exact spot recommended by pilot. Portishead. Severn Estuary.

The other pair of narrowboats have not been so lucky with their landing. Severn Estuary.

Portishead. Severn Estuary.

The entrance to the disused Portishead Dock. Severn Estuary.

Telephoto shot of something a tad larger than a narrowboat. Japanese Car delivery ship. Severn Estuary.

We eventually manage to free Beatty's anchor from the 4ft of horrible mud. Severn Estuary.

Sidling up to old breakwater to pick up our pilot. Severn Estuary.

Ken the pilot arrives and jumps onto roof! Severn Estuary.

Rather alarmingly, Ken, who steered all the way, heads out towards Denny Island! (This was to miss the car carrier boat that was still fiddling about some hour after arriving!) Severn Estuary.

We pass the car carrier with the tugs still playing with it! Severn Estuary.

The Severn Second Crossing was well under way. Ken said the pilots were glad of all the extra work created by this. Severn Estuary.

"The Shoots" SSC now behind.  Severn Estuary.

"The Shoots" Severn Estuary.

The Severn Suspension Bridge.  Severn Estuary.

Approaches to Severn Suspension Bridge. Oldbury Nuclear Power Station in distance. Severn Estuary.

Severn Suspension Bridge. Severn Estuary.

Severn Suspension Bridge. Severn Estuary.

Oldbury Nuclear Power Station. Severn Estuary.

At this point we head straight for the Welsh side. Severn Estuary.

We get surprisingly near the Welsh side at Sedbury. Severn Estuary.

First Telephoto shot of Sharpness. Severn Estuary.

Berkley Nuclear Power Station Severn Estuary.

Sharpness Breakwaters. At this point Ken insists the captain takes the boat into port. Severn Estuary.

At this point we are nearly going flat out, crabbing along. Ken the pilot casually tells Neil to point towards a downstream grain silo. Sharpness. Severn Estuary.

Just about to fly round the corner. Sharpness. Severn Estuary.

Safe at last. Sharpness.

Entrance to the tidal basin. Sharpness.

The tidal mooring dolphins you have to wait on for the lock. Down stream traffic now leaves to get all of the ebb. Sharpness.

All three narrowboats rafted up. Sharpness.

The "Eurolady" in the tidal basin leaves Sharpness.

Ken, now aboard the "Shetland Trader" a kelp carrier leaves from the dock lock. Sharpness.

We all enter the Dock Lock. Sharpness.

Dock Lock filling. Sharpness.

The Bath Stone Companies "Elaine" / ex "Dory" motor. Obviously happy with the Weather. A  little low in the freeboard for our tastes! Sharpness.

Leaving Sharpness Docks. Only one Bridge has to be swung for us! Sharpness.

looking up the old lock arm - Sharpness Visitor moorings where you can wait for the weather / tide for going the other way. This is free, whereas Bristol was 9 per night! Gloucester and Sharpness Canal.

The old beached barges at Purton.

The Visitor moorings at Purton. We retired to the "Berkley Arms" a magical pub on the river bank. Fortunately it was open that night. Gloucester and Sharpness Canal.

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