Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The Biggest Hobo

(Sorry this post has taken so long to put up, we're having endless nightmares with the internet. Normal service will hopefully be resumed shortly...)

"There's a voice, that keeps on calling me. Down the river, is where i'll always be..."

So, we did it! We finally moved from our temporary home up the Thames near Staines to our long hoped for dream location jut downstream from Tower Bridge. Ever since we bought the boat, nearly a year ago, we’ve been waiting for a spot here, and so when it finally came up we couldn’t wait to cast off the lines and set sail.

First of all there were preparations to be made. We tidied the wheelhouse and engine room up, which easily become dumping grounds for clutter.

Filled up the diesel tank and tested the engine

And prepared some tire fenders, putting lengths of hose through the holes drilled in tires so that the steel mesh inside didn’t shred the ropes.

Then, surprisingly soon, it was time to go. It was strange to leave our berth, from which we hadn’t moved since last year, but great to be moving, to feel the ‘boatiness’ of our home which had sometimes felt just like a flat, so calm was the water where we were.

The first hurdle, and the thing we had been warned about with grisly relish by several people, was Chertsey Bridge. It is tricky to get through with a large barge as you have to exit the lock just upstream and then quickly cut across the current in order to line up with the low and narrow arch of the bridge, without getting pushed over sideways by the current and ending up pinned sideways against the bridge.

It was a nerve wracking few minutes, but Stefan our skipper handled it with ease and soon we were through and making stately progress down the Thames.

Our friend Steve had come down for the ride and did a great job on tea and biscuits duty

And we made our way through several locks and round the winding bends of the river as the sun slowly set behind us.

Eventually, just as darkness fell, we got to Hampton Court and moored up, and Steve and Stefan went home for the night

but Lorna arrived, having been at work all day and missed the adventure. In order to save the batteries we lit dozens of candles and had a fun night camping out, ready for the second leg the next day.

In the morning I had a new shipmate, Matt, who got up unfeasibly early in order to join us at 7am, and Lorna abandoned ship once again, to go to work.

With Matt aboard we set off down towards the tidal Thames, which is everything below Teddington lock.

Driving the boat through central London was great fun,

and in no time we were down past Tower Bridge and in sight of our new home.

We had to moor up in a temporary spot on the edge of the mooring and wait for high tide in order to get onto our spot, so with some nifty manouvering in windy conditions Stefan brought us in and we moored up.

Once high tide came we then came round to the downstream end of the mooring and with lots of effort, ropes, shouted instructions and no time to take pictures we shouldered our way into a space between two other boats, dropped lots of fenders down, took a deep breath, and relaxed.

So, we are now in our new, VERY central spot, with Tower Bridge in front of us,

and Canary Wharf behind,

and the boat snug between one of the collar barges that form the mooring, and a huge Spitz very similar to the one we were moored next to on our old mooring.

It’s been a long time coming, but we’re very happy to be here.