Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The maelstrom

The rain arrived on cue and we left the Wey at 9am this morning full of trepidation about having to cross the maelstrom that is Shepperton weir pool. Last evening we walked over to survey it and it looked a bit scary. A lot of the sluices were open to get rid of all the water coming down the Thames after recent rains and there was a really strong torrent flowing right across the pool and then into a big back eddy.

I asked the Wey lock keeper what would be the best technique to cross the pool and he said “ Aim at the eye of it and give the boat full welly”. So that’s what we did. We pushed the engine up to 2200 revs (our normal cruising maximum is about 1800) and went for it. Herbie rocked as the torrent slammed into her side and then again as it hit the stern. We held straight and in a few seconds we were through. All rather exciting really, but soon over. A good job we weren’t two minutes later, because a little tug type boat pushing a bit flat pallet carrying big bags of sand (I think) came across the other way. Avoiding a collision might have been nigh on impossible.

After that it was all plain sailing, well cruising anyway. Very few boats were moving on the Thames, not surprising since the rain was increasing. We ploughed on past Hampton Court where long queues of punters under umbrellas were filing into the garden festival. Lots of boats were busy earning a crust by ferrying people to and from the site.

We reached Teddington at midday, very wet and glad to be moored up before the heavier rain hit although very big boats keep going past us too fast and their wash slams Herbie against the quayside. We go down on the tide at 08.30 tomorrow.

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