Sunday 22 November 2009

Thames Raid Day 1

The day dawned early, it being June and having ignored it as long as I could, I nipped out for an early morning wee, and found TOC sitting making a cup of tea when I got back. It was still O God O'clock but all around you could hear the gentle tinkle of billy cans being put on to boil. I had breakfast and walked into town for some supplies, and it was still only 8.00 when I got back.

The "plan" had been to leave around 10.00, but everyone was up and chomping at the bit, so we got loaded up.

This is my entire kit for the week, although the food was supplemented quite a bit. I managed to get it down to 42 lbs in the end, squeezing it into Pam didn't leave a lot of room for me.

However having squeezed it in, we were off. Chris P (S) got fed up waiting for everyone to get sorted so set off to find a tree to sleep under. Gradually we all got afloat and followed.

Here Paul H practices his look-no-hands steering technique while taking pictures, a new definition of Bum Steer.
It was only a mile or so to the first lock so we waited for the others to turn up. Chris had found his tree by then. Tim O' glides by.

Chris IV in Octavia doing his Jack Sparrow impersonation, this was how we were to see him all week, in front looking back at us, mind that tree Chris.

Chris P (S) cruising under one of the many footbridges which carry the Thames footpath.

This is the first day lunch stop. And very welcome it was too. Already we are beginning to look like a ramshackle tribe of Water Gypsies. Tony managed to find an attractive young(ish) social worker to chat to. She seemed happier to spend the afternoon chatting to us in the pub garden than go looking for her clients. Can't say I blame her.

Wayne had been having a bit of a problem with his auto-pilot. In a sensible attempt to save weight he left his centreboard and rudder behind, but unfortunately the flat bottomed Oystercatcher wouldn't keep a straight line so he waltzed down the river. Eventually Dave took pity and gave him a tow. Here's Wayne in the Beau Brummel outfit, with Dave the only man to look cool in a Breton Cap.
A quick call to Wayne's mum brought the rudder speeding to his aid.

When we were at Barton Turf in May Richard had problems with the foliage on several occasions to the point that he eventually fitted rear view mirrors to his boat, if you look closely you can just see them.

What you can't see in the Photo's is the wind. In a country with prevailing westerlies, how come the week we chose had strong east/north-easterlies veering and backing to make sure they were always on the nose. I honestly felt like I was paddling up hill, I stopped for a breather a few times, I nosed Pam into the reeds so the I didn't get blown backwards, there were loads of damsel flies which were almost exactly the same colour a Pam.

And loads of wild-fowl including this wee coot sitting on her nest.

There are restrictions on the number of tents allowed at some of the Locks which meant that we had to split up for the first night. Reasoning that a mile done today is a mile you don't have to do tomorrow I elected to go on ahead. By about 5.00 o'clock I was seriously beginning to regret it. Eventually the advance party made it to Shifford Lock. You can see the Solar Panels on Millibee's coach roof, which were to re-charge the battery for his electric outboard. They were also in much demand to re-charge peoples phones.

Chris IV enjoys a well earned tinny while
Chris P(S) contemplates the finer points of Pino Grigio from a plastic mug.
Tony introduces us to the squeekiest lilo pump on the planet.

Mary-Dog has had a tiring day.

And so by 9.30 or so with the light fading fast and not a pub for miles there was nothing else for it.

Night Night everyone sleep well...............

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