Sydney Wharf Bridge 188 to Brunel Quay Visitor Moorings
First things first a newspaper! At the bridge behind us there was a Tesco so that was an easy find. Breakfasted and ready to go just gone 8:30am. We had quite a few hours cruising to do today, so no languishing in bed with the paper.
As we rolled back the covers a Sally Hire boat came past with a crew of far too many chaps to ignore. If we could share with them it should make our trip down to the river a lot easier. I checked they were happy to share and we pulled in alongside them.
We were joining a group of chaps from Margate Rotary Club who’d come out for the weekend. They had missed winding further back this morning and were in two minds as whether to carry on down the locks to the river or find a suitable place to wind. They had to do the first two locks no matter what. As we progressed down the locks more and more people kept coming out of their boat, just how many of them were there?! Eight and someone else was joining them today.
Following another hire boat down we all had to pause when it came to Bath Deep Lock. This is the second deepest lock on the network and has only a short pound above it. By now a couple of volunteer Lockies had arrived and with local knowledge they suggested that the boat in front of us should wait until the Deep Lock had finished filling before leaving the lock above, this would save them grounding.
I’ve been finding the low geared paddles a pain, so have started to stand in front of the gate to wind them away from myself, I find this a lot easier. The volunteer wasn’t happy with this and told me off. I understood his concerns that I might step back and off the side of the lock, but I was very much aware of this and was just avoiding giving myself numerous bruises.
A single hander was coming up, so the volunteer was kept busy. Locks were swapped, then we helped the single hander up the lock in front of us. A do-si-do of boats and we were in the lock waiting to go down, pausing whilst a boat came into the Deep Lock to come up, therefore they could use our water.
Another do-si-do and we were in the Deep Lock ready to go down. I know we are more than likely to come back up on our own so let the chaps from the hire boat do all the winding of the paddles followed by the winding of the bottom gates. Meanwhile I chatted with the Lockie to get tips on how to ascend the lock should there not be anyone around to assist. We’ll see if his method works when we come back.
120 turns of a windlass later the bottom gates were open and there was only one more lock. We said our goodbyes to the chaps as we’d be heading downstream, the chaps still had to make their minds up as to what they were doing. Hope the rest of their weekend was good and that they don’t get too wet tomorrow.
Down on the river, back in a wide watery world. Here boats were moored where ever they could cling to the bank. We still had several locks to pass through and quite a few miles to cover, so on we pressed. A little wooden boat with a one cylinder petrol engine joined us for a few locks. A hire boat with helpful crew wound the paddles up to empty the lock before even looking to see if the boats were ready. The helpful chap really wanted me to climb down the ladder to get back on board, but I don’t do ladders unless I really have to, due to my grip. He kept insisting, but he was never going to win, our boats could just swap over below the lock, far easier than fishing me out of the water.
Our tiny locking partners moored up by a pub they’d not tried before and left us on our own. The next lock Keynsham was being emptied by a group of lads, they were bringing two cruisers up. Blimey the lock took forever to fill, we seemed to be there for an absolute age before the top gates could be forced open.
A few more meanders and occasional views and we’d reached Lock 1 of the Kennet and Avon, Hanham Lock. Here you leave C&RT waters and enter Bristol City Docks water. The next stretch to Netham Lock is tidal water, but currently the tides are not high enough to come over the weir. Mick called ahead so that the Lockie at Netham knew we were on our way.
There is no mooring along this stretch, but plenty of people were out enjoying the water, paddle boarders and swimmers. We passed a slow widebeam as we gradually left the greenery behind and more urban surroundings took over.
At Netham Lock we pulled in, as instructed to do by the big sign, and walked to the office. Two nights please. We handed over our money and in return were handed a sticker for our window and given a map showing us where we could moor in the floating harbour.
A quick check of mileage today and as we came through Netham Lock, we had achieved our thousandth mile this year!
Forty Five more minutes of cruising to reach the harbour. Big boats, small boats, boats that might bite, boats with sails.
Bridges, winding, high and low.
People, loads and loads of people all out enjoying the sunshine, possibly the last we’ll see for a while.
Our first option to moor after Prince Street Bridge had space but the number of people sat on walls, dangling their feet in the water put us off. Here is known to be noisy on weekends so we pressed on to Brunel Quay. Here there is no security gate, but finger pontoons. The area was very busy still, but we decided to pull in and make use of the electric hook up and water point at each mooring.
Once tied up we checked the credit on the post 22p, 15p went on the first load of washing, good job we’d bought some more credit. We settled in, Tilly was shown that the outside was not for her, but she didn’t take ‘NO’ for an answer and tried to clamber out through the side hatch! There’s only so much sleeping a cat can do!
Mick popped to the nearby Tescos and spotted a sign saying that the bar we were moored in front of would be closing at 4pm for a wedding party. Maybe we’d made a mistake in our choice of mooring.
At around 6pm there was a lot of singing.. A LOT! A trip boat pulled in to the moorings close to us and the singing got even louder. This was the wedding party! Damn, we’d just added £5 to the electric post.
The singing stopped for about half an hour, then for the remainder of the evening a chap with a guitar led them all singing Britpop hits, maybe it was Noel Gallagher. We thought about going out to enjoy the warm evening and get away from the singing, but we were both a touch pooped after the last couple of days and a long day on the river. Noel turned his mic off shortly after 10:30 and the general party noise gradually subsided.
13 locks, 1 sailed straight through, 17.86 miles, 1002.83 miles so far this year, 8 extra crew, 0 darlings, 2 locking partners, 8 hours cruising, 1 canal finished, 2 loads washing, £5 to get through, 50 grams short, 2 nights, £59, 2 high for painting, 1990’s relived.