Its been years since I went down the thames, past parliament and under tower bridge, 12 years in fact.
So I was happy to help a friend who wanted an extra pair of hands due to a slightly incapacitated crew member. (the very same person who fell in the lock and is now nursing broken ribs and a snapped knee)
The cruise was lovely, turning left out of Brentford and heading to Limehouse. The tide was still on its way in, but being a neap was not very powerful. We punched the tide for a while before it turned and swept us a long at a decent 8mph pace. There was some nice swells from the other river craft, nothing went in through the front cratch though, thankfully for the broken crew member as she would have got a bit wet and those pots get a bit heavy when dunked in water.
The exciting part was the entry to Limehouse. this was the bit Ive been curious about. Ive never seen a narrowboat turn into the small inlet, Ive only heard stories.
Particularly stories about the northern wall being a bit of an unintended buffer for a lot of boats.
So the captain/skipper/owner was handed the tiller well before we needed to turn and I just stood on the back, gripping the roof and watching with delight and some small amounts of concern as we turned, started wallowing around in the turbulence, the flow took as sideways as planned but not quite enough so a bit of adjustment ( reversing) to avoid the eddy in the entrance and some large amounts of welly again and she just turned in time to avoid the notorious wall and enter the lock nicely.
except a tupperware boat had bombed up ahead of us thinking they were beating us to the lock... not a good move when you think about it. they were waiting in the lock... for a 60ft metal torpeado everso slightly going fast and everso slightly crab wise.
I know if it had been my tupperware boat I would have said, "no after you sir" let the metal boat go in first then popped myself in when I was sure it was well secured inside the lock.
So with me not knowing the boat and its foibles, getting out of the cratch, climbing over the broken crew member and trying to get the front rope in time to grab the lock sliding cable was a bit of a failure. I got out alright but not before the boat had slewed across the lock and was threatening to crush said tupperware.
not the best of manouvers on my behalf but the lock keeper threw me a wee line to pull mine up with and we were sorted.
Those limehouse lockies are nice chaps.
The fun continued when trying to leave the lock the engine wouldnt start, due to a blocked fuel filter from all the turbulence on the way down.
So my final parting gesture before leaving them to go to work, was man hauling the boat out of the lock to tie up in the basin.
It seems that part of the canal system is intent on seeing me bow haul narrowboats nearly every time I visit it!
So, what a cracking cruise, great fun but Im not in a hurry to do the same with my own boat. I quite like the idea of taking my time through london on the canals. Narrowboats, choppy water and narrow lock entrances are only for those braver than me I think.