Thursday, 27 June 2013

I've looked at the photo's of the Force 4 'wind-over-tide' against us, and they don't spell Panic at all.  Some of the videos give a clue, but when it was worst, you couldn't hold a camera, it was all we could do to hang on.  So feeble I hear you say.  Well, here's the first lock we entered, in Dunkirk, in our bid to escape:

Yes, this is for the big boats, there's lots of room behind too.  No bollards, just some manky wire or rope, hard to tell which really.  You wait here for a long, long, long, long, long time, much longer than the publised times, so you wonder if you'll ever leave.  This is Trystram Lock.  No-one talks to you.  They're busy with the Big Boys.  It took us a good part of a  day to work our way out of Dunkirk.  After this was Darse 1 lock.  Nobody else was going our way.  Felt kindof lonely.  Then the first canal lock left us all feeling a bit exhausted:

This was us mooring up because the lock keeper told us to go buy your licence.  I told him the office there would only take cash, about £600 of it.  Nonsense, they take plastic he insists.  This fiasco passed about 2 hours to & fro, a visit to Aldi and lunch too of course!  Some locks look pretty normal, large, but normal, but not all:

It looks like a giant guillotine doesn't it.  Well, it's a close description.  It's called the cathedral lock, colloquially, and with good reason.  Then something emerges:

That's a big boat, and we go in next!  Inside it looks like this:

Well, thank goodness that big steel plate didn't drop on us, it did drip on us tho'.  Then the trip boat, sightseeing the lock only (!), shouts at you to come forwards, those doors behind are not decorative, and we were alongside them!  So:
That is daunting.  The lock itself has huge geysers that bubble up all over, but is actually very calm and stable, keeps you in your place, so to speak.  After all this excitement we just made it to Watten, a nice little town with a windmill and a ruined abbey, and three boulanger/patisseries, and two butchers.  They know how to live.  Here's a belfrey, more on that later.
Getting late, bye for now, tell you where this is next time.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

I bet you think I plan these?  No?  Oh well.  So this time I have, a bit, by taking some pix I think look good and preparing them for upload, so here goes:

Phew!  That was close.  At least I didn't do a Timothy Spall and actually hit it, I just aimed for it and got a bit enthusiastic.  And for any smart alec who says I should have passed it on the other side, well yest I should, but it marks the Shipping Lane, the very bit we want to avoid 'cos it has Ships in it!  That was on the Sunday, our crossing, and so was this:

What the...  Who's that with Nicola?  Oh, it's our lovely pilot.  Want a better view?

You can see how much Nik wanted to see these, for simply ages, and it's not exactly en route but our pilot was very resourceful, another?

Aren't they wonderful, and truly awesome?  What, 70 odd years old?  Concrete legs, called Red Sands, and there are loads of such, the next one we could see is Shivering Sands, and you do, shiver...
Then adjacent to this, I drove us right thru' the middle of this...

Well yes, you're right, I can't be taking this picture (I did) and steer at the same time, this is as we were leaving, and the little sticks on the right are the other Forts, Shivering Sands that I mentioned.
Then there was the little matter of crossing the shipping channel proper, at right angles, and timing it...

It's actually very hard to know if you'll get there first or them, not in this case of course, but with two others I'd have thought they would get there first but in fact we beat them both, by putting on a bit of a spurt at the end just in case!!  Let me show you a buoy:

Another one we missed, just, and that's a North Cardian Buoy, meaning we must go North of it.  I can't quite remember what the thing that looks like a shark diving with an endangered species placard actually is.  Nothing important, providing you miss it.   Just to go back a bit, our Saturday night gave us a very picturesque view from Stangate Creek of the Kingsnorth Coal Power Station (now shut down):

Isolated?  Well there were 3 other boats, sailing vessels, moored not that far away.  It's the only time we've used our anchor;  very peaceful if a little exposed.  I had loads of pictures of bridges on the Thames, and us, but they seem rather pointless now.  Oh well, here's one we nearly hit:

That's me preparing to do my Jesus act (the mast like a cross over my shoulder) which I do, while pilot Mark tests the height with his head!  I can't show you us crashing thru the waves because we were too busy hanging on, also you need a movie which takes ages (and lots of precious MBytes) to up and then download.  I don't even have a picture of Archangel here in Dunkirk, next time, for now here's a sunset here, or two:

That's all the salt spray on the windows, oh yes we had plenty on the windows, and had to use the wipers, a lot!  Then another with cleaned windows - bye for now.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Wow, crumbs, lots have happened since the last entry.  To cut to the chase, we're in Dunkirk/Dunkerque after a 3 day trip from Teddington, but I'm skipping an awful lot.  Way, way back in Windsor, when we tried to leave to go downstream for a possible crossing, we confirmed that Archangel was solidly aground!

Woops, what was that?  I think we all know...  You can see it in London, if you are on a boat that is.  So anyway, after walking/talking to the local lock keeper who showed us how their (EA) excessive water level changes had let us wander onto higher ground,  an EA boat whooshes upstream so after 15 minutes of my two motors working and his then we were free!  Next step was Teddington lock, in the hippy community. 
Hey, another picture, quite clearly not Windsor Castle.  Bit of a dull day. So we met the pilot aboard, and decided to leave there a day earlier, making us rush to meet Nik's uncle in Kew for dinner - so nice.  We moved down on Friday to moor outside our pilot Mark's tug, on Eel Pie Island, Twickenham.  He came aboard at 7am Saturday 1st June, taking advantage of tides and that day, well, as you can see, we went down to London.  Where we saw:
The part with all the monuments goes very fast!  We were doing about 10 knots, due to the good tide.

I know that!  HMS Belfast of course.  We felt kind of small.  By the way, they didn't open the bridge for us.
Look at these:

Yes, that's a bit upstream, but interesting form of new dwelling don't you think.  Pretty impractical as a boat, but London is a strange place when it comes to accommodation.  I've lots more, but I must publish soon as I have to go back to Dunkirk - oh, didn't I mention that?  Well, more on that next time.  Where is this?