Tuesday 3rd to Monday 9th May 2011.

A cruise to the Thames Barrier followed by the Thames to Teddington (organised by the St Pancras Cruising Club).

But first, back to Tues’ 3rd.
It’s our last day at Waltham Abbey so we paid our respects to the Lee Valley White Water Centre by taking coffee on their roof and watching a lone canoeist do his stuff in the rapids.

But my mind was on the weekend ahead with our plan to cruise the Thames, hopefully without white knuckle rides.

Our first stop on the way to Limehouse was an overnighter at Tottenham. A quiet enough spot if you don’t count towpath cyclists practising for the Olympics and our first serious encounter with this year’s underwater tumbleweed. One minute you can see the river bed, the next it’s completely obscured by rolling carpets of stranded green weeds that reach upwards to passing propellers.

Above water are the twin menaces of sticky leaf sap and towpath dust that strips gloss paint of its shine and if untreated provides an anchorage for airborne tree fluff and dandelion seeds.

At the turn of a corner one encounters the solitary angler, ignoring or flouting the close season rules. He pretends he doesn’t know so I pretend I can’t see and we plough straight through his line, neither acknowledging the other’s existence. C’est la vie.

An umbrella morning with brighter prospects is how I’d record the weather.
At the Olympic Stadium I took a chance by disregarding the closed signs (yes, even I can do it) and cruised on to Old Ford Lock hoping they’d let me take the short cut to Limehouse. But I’m ‘convinced’ by the workers who explained that there’s a barrier below the lock that I can’t pass and so I return the way I came.
Meanwhile V is standing in the cabin with that embarrassing told-you-so-look, reminding me I’ve wasted 10 minutes worth of diesel by not following the signs.

Back onto the HUC (Hertford Union Canal or Duckett’s Cut) we climb three locks, turn left onto Regents Canal and descend four to Limehouse Basin.
Looking back at the HUC I wonder how many thousands of working boats have been under this old iron bridge since Geo Duckett, sorry, Sir George Duckett, had it built in 1830.

We were stopped for a few minutes by a ‘lady’ with a very loud voice and an intoxicated interest in boats. I could hear her before I could see her, asking questions like “Is it cold in winter?” “Do you have a bathroom and a washing machine?”
Her partner arrived and was passed the information whereupon they both decided they’ll take a late honeymoon on a narrowboat. Taking our leave and the next lock her voice continues to drift down to us on the wind as they walk to Mile End loudly exclaiming the virtues of narrowboating.

At Limehouse we did the customary tour of the boat basin, pretending we knew what we were doing, and after finding all the dead ends we eventually finished up mooring near old friends No Problem (Sue and Vic) and new friends Rock n Roll (George and Carol).

V and I thought we’d take a reassuring look at the river before discussing Thames Barrier cruise plans but the waves were daunting in both size and colour and the wash that hit the walls below us splashed ten feet high or more.

It’s alright, I told V, SPCC know what they’re doing. This was the day before the organiser announced that if the weather didn’t behave then they wouldn’t hesitate to cancel the cruise.

Sorry, it’s half past five, the sun is out and the BBQ is calling, more later…..