We were 15 minutes away from raising the Jolly Roger and boarding the nearest vessel in search of sustenance. We had ripped the captains hat from our stalwart leader sat mid-ship, sent our onboard (motorcycle) mechanic into the bowels of the engine to declare the boat a dead duck, pillaged the galley mess – only managing to round up a dozen bottles of water, one of the onboard damsels had rent her dress in distress (and thanks to an scurrilous bolt) and the shipmates were roaring in merriment.
Just “another” London weekend.
Having mentally prepared for a quiet Saturday on the outskirts of suburban London (the plan was to tick off one of our Pinterest board ‘London to-do’ items), a friend called pre-breakfast who had decided it was perfect weather for cruising along the Thames and embarking for a waterside pub grub lunch mid-journey. Luckily he wasn’t calling just to tease, and had reserved a couple of spare berths for us landlubbers on his seaworthy steed and would meet us at dockside in a couple of hours.
Casting off our plans for the day (and mentally preparing as many terrible puns as we could muster) we donned our Breton stripes and deck shoes – the token kiwi in florals and flats – and boarded just as the cloudy sky was clearing as promised.
As we drifted along the waters running alongside Runnymede (infamous for the signing of the Magna Carta), we passed a plethora of riverside mansions of all shapes and sizes; Canal boats adorned with rooftop gardens and snoozing cats, sprawling ancestral tudor manors, cut-glass modern houses, boxy apartment buildings and boats. So many beautiful boats of all shapes and sizes.
A couple of hours after disembarking, we picked our mid-way turn about point and decided to refuel at a local eating house.
We popped back into the Lock, calling out greetings to the volunteers who operate the gates (Locks allow for water level changes in canals and rivers) we rubbed our bellies with little disguised glee. Breakfast had been a long, long time ago…
The captain turned the key to restart the motor, but instead of the purr of an engine kicking into to touch all we got was a click. We were stranded in the middle of a busy passing shoulder of the river with no real alternatives to get home, or get our friends back to their car (and onwards to a soiree they had planned).
|A Lock in action… see how the river level drops about 6 feet – it only takes about 5 minutes too.|
Breaking out the oars (aka hand pulling the boat along the river by the mooring ropes) we walked the boat towards a better spot to sit and run through our options. 1) Abandon ship and let the boys sort it out 2) call River Rescue 3) hope to talk the local Hotel into giving us a lift. None of the above seemed like a great idea, but luckily just before we staged a mutiny – see the first paragraph – the captain managed to talk the kindly Albert, a fellow boater coming through the Lock, into giving us a lift all the way back to the base.
That man is such a legend.
ps. excuse the quality of some of these photos – we’re having wifi issues at the moment – the worst nightmare of a blogpost!