Tuesday 31st August 2010
The IWA Festival is over, but there's still a festival spirit on the morning after. A misty start gave the opportunity for some foggy photos. Here are fuel boats Archimedes and Ara ministering to the needs of boaters, delivering diesel and coal.
And then I spotted something which was rather familiar from our experiences of the previous week. Just discernible on the far side of the river were two boats, one almost in the trees, and one coming alongside.
It soon became clear that the first boat was in difficulties, and was being breasted up to another to pull it out of trouble.
And then I saw that the stricken boat was Ein Cariad, the very boat which had rescued us at Bablock Hythe when our first propeller fell off. I was there to take a rope as the boats came alongside Chris Colborne's (?) boat, assisting in the rescue of our rescuer. I know boaters help each other, but I wasn't expecting to be able to repay (in a very small way) the kindness shown to us so directly and so soon!
Like what happened to us, Ein Cariad had no drive, but it wasn't through losing its prop. A lot of smoke was reported to be coming from the gearbox. A check revealed that there was hardly any oil in it, but there was no evident reason for its loss. The boat was under way again later after a topup.
We had a booked slot at the next lock downstream, Whitchurch Lock, at 1420, so we left our mooring at 1350 so as to be in good time. The sun had burned off the fog quickly, and it was a lovely warm day. Above Sonning Lock we saw somewhere to tie up for the night where there was still some sunshine. Good, we'll have a barbecue, I thought, and turned Willow to face upstream and brought it in to the bank. Slight problem: awkwardly positioned trees and brambles, and, worse, some submerged branches preventing the bow getting where I wanted it.
With someone from Dizzy Duck holding a rope I stepped into the bow with the long boat hook and started fending off from the trees. To give myself space, and something to push against, I must have stood on the gunwale furthest from the bank. And pushed. Too hard. I started losing my balance. Uh oh ... I'm going in ... and SPLOSH! Still holding the boat hook I was in the Thames for the third time in a week. Oh well, now that I was in, I might as well clear the underwater obstruction, so I pulled the submerged branches out of the way.
It was easy to stand up and put the boat hook on board, but not so simple to get out myself. I had a go at getting onto the bow, but the overhang and lack of footholds made that impossible. The bank was steep and covered in brambles, so that was going to be pretty difficult too. Then our Dizzy Duck helper said she had a ladder, and went to get a short aluminium ladder. This was the perfect thing. With the ladder against the brambles, and its feet on the river bed it was just long enough for me to be able to climb out. Had the ladder not been available I suppose I would have had to wade along to an easier bit of bank, or go to the back of the boat and climb onto the counter.
On this particular underwater excursion (my hat got wet) I had the usual complement of things in my pockets, including two mobile phones and my wallet. Oops! I opened up the phones and shook the water out. My "work" phone had water between the screen and the LCD display, but this dried out successfully and still works. My "personal" phone, on the other hand (in the other pocket) hasn't fared so well. Most of the time it thinks there's no signal, and therefore won't connect. I was worried that all the postage stamps in my wallet might have stuck together, but they peeled apart and seem to be all right after drying out. I filled a large part of the floor with drying receipts, cards, stamps, twenty pound notes, BW cycling permit ... I hadn't realised my wallet contained so much stuff!
In the next post: Boat capsizes!
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