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Tours 2000, The Basingstoke Canal

3 - Odiham to Harefield Marina, via Basingstoke Canal, River Wey, River Thames and Grand Union Canal.

Thursday 20thApril we left at 9.35. We stopped on the good moorings above Reading Road Bridge to have lunch (We must be getting old, actually stopping for lunch, whatever next!). We shoved off again at 13.00 after a 50 minute stop in pouring rain. All low bridges passed with a bit more gusto. Came out of Ash Lock (still raining) at 14.50, past canal office at 16.00. The trip boat there "Merlin" appeared to be Phil Gardner's of Waterways Services, Nether Heyford old "Saucy Sue". Anybody out there confirm this? Arrived at the top of Deepcut at 16.50. We had found out that the Galleon Marine hire boat moored here was on long term hire since last April! 

Friday 21stApril we started down Deepcut breasted up with a Springer bug "Peg". We had got talking with the two blokes living aboard the hire boat, apparently their flat was flooded and the insurance company was paying for their boating! A couple of locks down we swapped "Peg" for a serious looking 58ft tug with no name. All it contained inside was ballast and a Gardner3LW! "Peg" stayed behind to lock down with 3 Wilderness boats. We got down Deepcut relatively efficiently until the last lock. Here they tug became somewhat out of control and smacked "Earnest" on the stern causing a slight dent to the top of the cant. What the poor unfortunates did not know was that this was right on the seam for the fuel filler cut out and "Earnest" now sports a new hole in the diesel tank! Yet more welding for Neil on a full tank of diesel! God knows why Ray does not make a false top to the tank, level with the stern deck and build the cants up on this. We came out of Deepcut bottom lock at12.15. We carried on until St John's Wharf, where we said goodbye to all the others who were going to the festival. This was at 16.50. That night we went to very excellent "Vojon" (NO not Vogon, all you Hitchhiker fans!) Indian restaurant. Peter had warned us that he had seen a notice saying that there was to be a Disco in the bar beside us until 2.00am, but this did not deter us from a night afloat. Actually the noise did not keep us awake and we did not have any trouble. 

The next day, Saturday 22nd April we shoved off at 10.35. We became wedged in the centre of the Woking Waterways Festival at Bridge Barn. Strange noises were heard from "Earnest's" bow again and Neil eventually to every ones delight, removed a large plastic sack from the Prop!
Sorry guys we would have loved to have stopped, but Neil could not stand another of Linda's sleepless nights waiting for raindrops! We booked our exit with the ranger on his secret mobile number (0850 751347) and exited Woodham at 14.00. You have probably guessed what Neil was trying to do that night!
Neil Phoned the Wey Thames Lock and yes!!! they had just opened the last river bit of the navigation. We got to Thames Lock at 15.30 and Neil sprung it on Linda, how about getting to Teddington tonight! Neil walked down to the Thames to find the level down from when we arrived. This was thought  to be a good time as we would be arriving at Teddington at High tide.
Neil has a theory (which seems to be proved correct) that EA hold back water in last few stretches, then let it go as tide goes out! We were locked out onto the Thames at 16.00. As we approached Shepperton weir whirlpool (It looked like one of those Sci Fi computer generated black holes!) Floored the throttle and though of Luke Skywalker. "Earnest" rolled both ways in a very controlled fashion (The extra 15 paving slabs I have "lost" in Earnest having sorted out the excessive roll it had to port). We missed the plastic boat (Whoops! I mean fibreglass cruiser) that was moored in a prone spot on the corner by a mile and shot of at almost cruiser speed down Desborough Cut (I did check the speed past the markers!) Got well over at Walton Bridge and did a very controlled passage through the innermost arch. Lock keeper at Sunbury and Molsey did not issue red cards and the narrowboat "Manitou" was still moored at the pub. Arrived at Teddington with NO pull from the weir (Level down 1ft from side weir!?) We were on the Thames for less than two hours at our normal sedate 2000revs.(Arrived at Teddington at 17.45) We did not meet a thing apart from one cruiser! Too late to negotiate out of hours working at Brentford we spent a night on VERY slack mooring lines in Teddington Lock cut going up and down all night. That night we went yet again to the VERY excellent Lebanese Restaurant in Teddington High St, the "Cedar". There are many other good and popular restaurants in Teddington.

We left Teddington Sunday 23rd April afternoon at 4.00pm AGAINST the tide (Wot tide?, Richmond Weir down even this early on, only felt tide after Isleworth) and arrived at Brentford in very controlled fashion at 5.00pm. The lock keeper slightly confused as he thought two narrowboats coming Earnest and BEATTY! (This time it was not Neil's mistake!) The water was just going over Thames lock weir so we got under Brentford High Street bridge with feet to spare (Ian Clarke could have even got Straight Across under it!) Spent night in lovely Brentford Basin, probably for the last time hearing the dulcet tones of Canada Geese echoing around of the old warehouses. I say the last time, as all the heavy demolition kit is on the island, poised to demolish all the old warehouse buildings that should have been preserved. Two other narrowboats had actually ventured this far from Harefield Marina. That night we ate in. 

Monday 24th April we left early this morning at 8.10 to make an early return to Harefield at 15.00. 

The Tour has ended

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