A Boaters Smile. 8th August

Cliveden to above Sonning Lock

Wet already

Normally on a day such as today we’d sit out the rain, maybe let Tilly out for a while. But today we had no choice, it’s hard to get going knowing you’re going to get soaked before you even reach the first lock of the day. Even the winter waterproof trousers came out, initially a wise decision until we realised the rain running off our life jackets ends up going round the crutch straps!

Spring Cottage

Cookham Lock was our first and as it was only 8:30 it was on self service. Here panels were left open on the control pedestals and inside the door it gives you instructions on their use, including timings for the lock to empty and fill. 3mins 30 to empty and 4mins 15 to fill.

Round the big sweeping bend at Bourne End a familiar boat from our trip a couple of years ago Black Magic, wonder if they had anything to do with Rowntrees? A temple like structure has been built over the water, it could also have been a swimming pool, but then the chap walking around inside must have been walking on water if that was the case!

At Marlow Lock we waited for a Le Boat boat to come down, they were hunting round for a water point. Because it was raining so much I’d left my phone inside with my map so I couldn’t help pin point it for them. Looking now at Waterway Routes I notice that there isn’t a water point there, their next tap would be at the marina on Bourne End or at Cookham Lock.

Marlow Bridge

There was a space with our name on it at Marlow, we pulled in for me to hop off to top up on milk and bread from Sainsburys. The town was just waking up on a Sunday morning. A chap stood at the door of Sainsbury and said ‘There’s a bit of smoke in the shop so be careful going in and coming out’ ! Smoke!!! His tone suggested there was nothing to worry about and the aroma with the smoke was flavoured with hot cross buns, so obviously the bakery had had an incident this morning.

With cuppas in hand and a brownie each for elevenses we pushed off again shortly after a widebeam had pulled out also heading upstream. We started to follow them, but their pace was extremely slow, more suited to that of a shallow canal than the 8km you can do on the Thames. So Mick cranked Oleanna up to over take them at least we’d get to the lock sooner to be able to set it for both boats.

The lock was set against us and a boat approaching from above, I opened the gates and worked the lock for them, then waved Oleanna in expecting the widebeam to follow. Temple Lock is 41m long, we are under 18m so we were surprised that they didn’t come in behind us as they hadn’t looked longer than us as we’d passed.

They stood holding ropes at the back of the lock landing. I was asked would they fit? My reply was ‘I don’t know, I’m not a lock keeper’. They then brought their boat in to the mouth of the lock peered in but decided that they wouldn’t be able to fit alongside us so pulled back out. A chap on the bow suggested that we’d been going too fast as we’d passed them, he was quite disgruntled. Then he said they wouldn’t fit, it wasn’t anything to do with their length, but their width as they wouldn’t fit along side us. Thinking back on the incident they most probably thought we’d over taken them to beat them to the lock, which to a certain extent is true but we’d never imagined that they wouldn’t be able to fit in the lock as well. Each to their own and we left them sorting themselves out below the lock.

Waiting for the slow tap

Below Hurley Lock all the beautiful launches in the pool outside Peter Freebody and Co were tucked up under their covers, not much shiny woodwork on show today, not any photos as my camera was keeping dry inside. Here we had our first lock keeper of the day, we were soon up and on our way again, passing NB Zenith at the water point who were exclaiming at how slow the tap was!

The beautiful houses on the bend had caught a hire boats eye, they were doing circles infront of them. On round the bends and islands, now we needed to keep an eye open along the moorings at Medmenham.

There she was

A few boats on there she was No Problem XL. A paddle boarder and another boat meant we wouldn’t ‘bip’ our horn, so we slowed right down hoping to be spotted. We were. Sue came out to say hello, we’d been in contact to say we would passing. We trod water a social distance away from No Problem XL.


Sadly Sue lost Vic, her husband, a couple of months ago to Lung Cancer, which was diagnosed only a couple of weeks before he passed away in his sleep. 32 years of marriage, 22 of them living afloat. She also lost one of her dogs at the back end of last year, so life hasn’t been kind recently. But Sue is surrounded by a community of boaters who all look out for each other, she looked very well and it was so good to stop and have a short catch up. Hopefully next time we’re on the Thames we’ll be able to stop for longer and not get blown off course across the river.

A boaters smile

Below Hambledon Lock we nosed at the marina where Still Rockin used to winter. Wonder where she is now?

Look at those lovely buoys

Henley is ready, very ready for the regatta next week. The lock keeper told us to keep to the right when we reached Temple Island. No chance of getting things wrong here. Numerous red buoys mark your course. Don’t tell anyone but two years ago when we moored a short time after the regatta we were gifted one of the red buoys by the river god. It would be nice to have a second one. Mick wondered if they were held down by mud weights, he’d quite like one of those too. But we were good and carried on along the western bank of the river along the course.

A couple of sculls were making use of the course as were a couple of Dragon boats, all powering their way along as great speed. Stands and marquees filled the banks the closer we got to Henley. Have to say the white fabric around all the structures on the river would drive me mad, I’d have to go and reattach them all to make them look neater.

Beaten to Marsh Lock by a paddle steamer trip boat we waited our turn with several hire boats and canoeists. Nine swans also took advantage of a lift up the lock.

People were having parties in their gardens, the weather having improved greatly since this morning, the occasional shower still came past so our waterproofs were still worth having on.

Sonning Bridge

Up Shiplake and then Sonning Locks. The Lock Keeper making sure we knew about the Kennet and Avon Canal being shut at Southcote Lock. A new anchor block is needed and the lock gate has been removed by a crane. Stop planks have been installed for the lock to be dewatered. The time scale of the full stoppage hasn’t been issued yet. Thankfully we’re not heading that way.

Hollyhocks taken a bit of a battering in the weather

After admiring the Lock Keepers wife’s hollyhocks we pulled in just above finding a space alongside the busy towpath. Tilly eventually managed to find a gap big enough between woofers to get across the path and into the trees. Here she was kept busy finding friends, one of which she brought home, but I successfully managed to remove her and her small friend in one go. I suspect this mooring will get a stamp from our thug!

International Cat Thug Day

8 locks, 20.01 miles, 1 excessively wet morning, 1 slow boat to Temple, 1 No Problem XL, 1 smiling Sue, 1 regatta in waiting, 257 red buoys, 56793 bottles Moet Chandon on ice, 2 dragons, 1fake, 1 narrowboat 3 hire boats 4 canoes 9 swans in a lock, 2 friends, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp.


3 thoughts on “A Boaters Smile. 8th August

  1. Dave (Scouts)

    So sad to hear about Vic. Condolencses to Sue. I had wondered what had happened as no recent blog posts and used to enjoy her winter photo wassat

    1. Pip Post author

      As Sue hasn’t really been cruising she’s not had anything boat related to blog about, hence her silence.

  2. Anonymous

    Yes echo those sentiments above, I also noticed the posts had stopped Sue’s was the first blog I found that I then followed many moons ago. Great times reading of their travels with boaty folk like Geoff and Mags. She also posted a link to Tom & Jans plight at the time and there followed a great blog to follow.
    My condolences to Sue.

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