So I’ve finally pulled the plug (literally) and left the marina. As soon as I hit the Thames I knew that it wasn’t going to be quite as stress-free as I had imagined. The current was indeed quite stong. There were warnings for the last few days about the flow, not to go out, etc. but as the levels had dropped back to normal I wanted to take a chance. So out I went. It was a very short distance to the mouth of the Kennet & Avon Navigation (not a canal yet!) so I started up.
My first lock went fine, an easy one. Here is Cool Change in that first ever (for me) lock.
Then there was some interesting messing about trying to hit a traffic signal button (stops traffic coming the other way for 12 minutes through the narrowest part of Reading) but finally a passerby pushed it for me. I threw them a Canada frisbee for their trouble.
Then the real fun started. The current (against me) was substantial and a small miscalculation on a tight bend put me into the weeds. And I don’t mean dandilions. These were full-grown trees, hanging over the river. I gave it full power and aimed the stern into the bushes in an effort to pull the bow out and through the eye of the current. Luckily it worked, and without catching anything in the prop. But it left a lot of evidence on the deck!
Needless to say, I paid better attention after that. Some pretty easy cruising for about another hour and a half and I came to Forbury Lock. The book warned about current on the lock landing (where you tie up while you go and prepare the lock). No kidding! A river running in from the left, the lock in the middle, and a waterfall hitting the starboard bow on the landing. And the lock is quite deep (or so it seemed to me, being my third single-handed one ever) but I took my time and all was well.
As I was waiting for it to fill, I talked with a family nearby. They warned me about the Caen Hill Flight (29 locks in one day) and offered to meet me there in a week or so and we’d go through together! Another frisbee offered and appreciated. I wish I had brought more of them.
My home for the night… My gawd this is awesome.