For the trip to Chatham an old work colleague joined me for the ride.
High tide was at 5:38am and our lockout time was reportedly to be 6am. Knowing that time seems to accelerate at twice the speed when preparing for a lockout we awoke an hour before, and sure enough before we knew it we were ready to go. I honestly wouldn’t normally wake up at 5am for anything else but sailing!
I briefed my friend on how we would leave the berth and how we were going to tie up in the lock. I was told the day before that there would be 2 sailing barges and another boat and that we would go in after the first Thames barge.
We left the berth at 5:50 with no dramas which was a relief as I have quite a tight berth. In a relaxed state we started to follow the Thames barge at a distance into the lock, with a boats width coming through the first bridge into the central basin a Belgium boat raced past me, and then a second, straight into the lock against the wishes of the harbourmaster (sigh). After all the F1 antics were over, we eased into the lock and rafted up to Jenson Button (my new nickname for this guy) without any issues.
Rafted up to Mr Button, he was powerless to leave the lock until I had untied myself from his boat, so as he watched his friends power off, we waited patiently for the Thames barge to clear the lock. Once sufficient time had passed, we untied and hoped that some English patience had rubbed off on him, but I fear not 🙂 We departed St Katharine Docks at 7am. Considering our Belgium friends were bigger than us we actually kept them in sight for a good 4 hours.
The trip was pretty uneventful, the wind characteristically blowing from the wrong direction meant little sailing could be had. We chuckled at everyone going to work as we passed under the QE2 bridge with a cup of tea in hand, and chomping on Ben’s fruit bars left over from a previous trip.
I forgot to mention we had a third crew member courtesy of my friend Eliza called Guppy, who will be joining me for my little adventure. Guppy is learning fast and spent a bit of time at the helm, he seemed to be enjoying himself.
The sun eventually came out for a while and while not blazing hot, it was very welcoming as we closed in on Chatham.
We arrived in Chatham at 4pm and with the lock on free flow we were able to pass straight through the lock and with a minor bump, tied up by the lifting crane shortly after.
After 9 hours we were both knackered, so went for a quick meal at the Ship & Trades, a treat from my friend, after which he headed off and I went back to the boat.
When I got back to the boat I felt tired, shaky and my head was on fire! I passed out for a few hours, awoke in the middle of the night and downed some co-codamol which is the strongest drug I carry on the boat. The next morning my pillow was soaked. This is pretty nasty, but it transpired that my new scary sailor look had exposed my scalp to an aggressive tanning, thus burning those little follicles and the scalp so much so that my head now wept, or oozed some nasty transparent liquid. I’ve read that after a couple of days my head will stop weeping, nice!
So a word to your mother, its best to apply sunscreen whenever you go out sailing! or just don’t shave your head! So much for shaving off the corporate shackles!
[table] Trip Stats, Miles: ,50 Engine:, 9 hour Total Miles:, 50 Expenses, Lunch and snacks for trip, £12.00 Summer trip total expenditure, £130.65[/table]