Last night being Bank Holiday Monday the Rowbarge had a BBQ in the gardens and people had flocked to it to enjoy the food and late evening sunshine.
The gongoozlers were able to watch this wide beam negotiate the Woolampton Swing bridge and see as it tried to pick up its crew at the bridge mooring slew across the river into the path of the oncoming hire boat. The lesson from this is not to let your crew jump off with the centre line rather than the stern rope as the current just takes your stern straight out from the bank. Fortunately the hire boaters were capable people and did not panic but safely navigated their way around the wide beam. In fairness to the wide beam it was a tight fit going through the bridge hole and he did hit the side of the bridge with the tyres he had down the side of the boat.
Having watched this episode it was our turn the this morning when we decided to make an early start and enjoy the lovely sunny weather. We went down the lock and I waited in the lock exit for June to radio that the swing bridge had been opened and then entered the river with enough power to provide steerage to negotiate the bridge and once through immediately putting it in reverse so that I could bring the stern into the bridge landing and secure the stern line to await June closing the bridge and walking down to the boat. You will note that there are no pictures of this as I was too busy concentrating on steering the boat to take a photo. Fortunately all went without incident and we were off down the river towards Aldermaston where we filled with water just below the lock whilst we waited for 9.00 am to arrive so that we could raise the lift bridge on the main Basingstoke Road. The bridge will not operate between 8.00 and 9.00 am to ensure that the road traffic is not held up at rush hour. Also the bridge will not operate for 10 minutes after it was last operated again to ensure that traffic delays are not created.
Aldermaston Lock is another variation of locks on the K & A having scalloped sides, so watch how you walk down the lock as it is easy to slip down the holes.
We made good time to Tyle Mill lock and swing bridge and just when we were thinking things were going well the swing bridge failed to slew back correctly which meant we could not retrieve our operating key and had to ring C & RT to come and sort out the problem. We took it in turns to have our lunch whilst the other informed the drivers that they would have to find another route. It was amazing how they would just sit there if we had not told them and we had a real mixture reactions from the drivers. C & RT came out within 3/4 of an hour and we were on our way within the hour. Thanks to them for a great service.
We again thought how nice the river looked compared to when we came up with the trees bursting into green and the wild life enjoying the river and lakes alongside the banks.
Garston Lock just below Theale is the second Turf sided lock and here is a view of it taken from inside the lock so that you can see the 45 degree sloping sides where it is turfed. The iron railings help stop boats grounding on the turf.
As we reached Burghfield Bridge we thought we would stop if there was a suitable mooring and as we passed a moored boat the occupants waved and then waved frantically, I realised that it was Mike and Sally off Nb October House. We managed to find a nice mooring just down river from them and they came down for a chat whilst we moored. Later we had a great afternoon together aboard Autumn Myst. It was lovely to meet you both at last.
As we sat having dinner a beautiful Mandarin Duck paddled by going upstream. Mike had told us that he calculated the speed of the river flow to be just over 3mph.