London Visitors

This month we have had an unusual number of fixed dates to work around.  All of the arrangements have been worth it, and everything went to plan.  The additional awkwardness of mooring in and around London has left me feeling like I am juggling arrangements more than I’d like.  As we headed south in to London last week, we were also getting warnings of heavy rain adding to the pressure.

We opted to make a rush for Three Mills on a day with occasional very heavy showers.  Driving in heavy showers is not much fun though.  I knew from previous experience that if the pram cover is up at the back, only the hand holding the tiller needs to get wet.  Unfortunately, the bridges on that section of the Lee were an inch or two too low for our cover.  The design has four parallel supports across the boat.  The middle pair are higher than the outer ones, so I experimented with undoing the fastenings and moving the supports outwards.  That lowered the canopy enough for most bridges, but tended to pool water – fine as long as I cleared it every so often.

The rain still seemed to come on mainly when we were at locks, but being able to retreat under cover in-between made the day much more pleasant.  We were almost at our destination for the day when we found a bridge that was a few inches lower.  An emergency stop (full reverse thrust) saved the cover, and we then lowered it out of harm’s way while we went under.  We arrived at Three Mills dry and undamaged.

Mill Building at Three Mills.  A four storey brick building with rows of white painted windows.  The slate roof forms two pyramids with white cones at their peaks and a clock tower alongside. A railing at separates the path we're standing on from the tidal river below.
Clock Mill at Three Mills

We found a slightly easier mooring than last time, but it was still at boat roof height.  My brother, Roy, joined us on board for the evening.  The weather forecast no longer threatened a wash-out the following day, and the moorings were officially for one day only, so we arranged for him to join us again when we moved back to Angel.

After we’d moored I’d experimented and discovered that by leaving one of the fastenings undone on the pram cover we could have the cover fully deployed, but be able to flatten it in about the time it takes to do an emergency stop.  There was still a threat of showers so we decided to set off under the cover.  Roy asked to drive and proceeded to show an annoyingly high level of skill as we headed off through his part of town.  He piloted us through Limehouse Basin and up through the first few locks on the Regent’s Canal.  By the time we reached Angel we’d put the cover down for the day.

Covered stern deck of a narrowboat.  A man dressed in dark clothes is standing just inside the cover holding the tiller behind him.  Sitting on the other side is a woman in a red coat.
Clare sitting and Roy driving Bartimaeus

At the moorings, there was a gap on the towpath that was not quite long enough for us.  By tying the stern rope tightly to one ring and the centre rope to another I was able to moor up, but at such a jaunty angle that even someone passing on the opposite bank commented on it.  I set the batteries charging – we had driven electric all afternoon so they were needing it.

The following day we were joined by Jenny and Tom and went for an all-electric round-trip through the Islington Tunnel and as far as the first of the Camden Locks.  When we returned some boats had moved, so we were able to moor at the same spot, but with a few extra feet allowing us to get a little closer to the bank.

We repeated the round-trip route the following day with Anne and Richard.  This time when we returned, our space was gone, so we buddied up with a boat that had previously been our neighbour.  This was our first night parallel to the bank, but now not adjacent to it.  These moorings are supposed to be pre-booked, and double mooring is “not permitted” between October and March – you couldn’t tell by observation.

Each time we were charging the batteries I was watching out for the behaviour of our carbon-monoxide (CO) alarm.  The conclusion is that we need to take it the far end of the boat from the batteries and keep the intervening doors closed.  This should avoid false alarms but keep us safe in bed when charging the batteries overnight.  That is an improvement on simply disabling the combined smoke and CO alarm which we used to have to do.

We set off out of central London yesterday, early enough to make sure we would reach somewhere we could get moored before sunset – before 6pm now.  I chose to work the Camden Locks as I had not done so yet.  I had taken a photograph of the interlocking arms and steps, but still nearly fell down the gap when mindlessly walking backwards to push the gate arm.

Lock arm viewed from the hinge. The arm is painted white for the last few feet and black elsewhere.  White paint also marks the edge of a set of steps sunk in to the wall beneath the arm.  The steps are not visible.  There is a platform at the edge of the canal six feet below.   A narrowboat is just visible under a bridge further down the canal.
Mind the Gap

As anticipated, we had to travel another few hours before we were able to find a mooring – near Wormwood Scrubs.

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