Sancerre: Canal Boat on the Thames

It was less than an hour from London to near Marlow that we received the orientation and checkout for the canal boat that was our home for five days. Part of the orientation was going through a lock. Normally there is a lockmaster available to help. It worked out well that the lockmaster was not there. David, the owner of the boat showed me which buttons to push to raise and lower the sluice, and to open and close the gates. The Sancerre weighs 30 tons and is 60 ft long and 11 ft wide.  The boat was surprisingly challenging to drive.  It was like driving a truck without power steering.  A lot of vibration came through the tiller. I expected it to easy.  No way.  It took some muscle to Negotiating 180 turns on a river, dogging scullers rowing with their backs to their forward motion, and trying to figure out which channel to take for the lock were what complicated the being at the helm of the canal boat.

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The bow of the long canal boat.

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IMG_2314During our first full day, we travelled from Bisham Abbey to Windsor. We were headed down stream and managed to successfully pass five locks. Two of the locks were unstaffed, so I had the opportunity to try my hand at operating locks. It was comforting that David said the controls were set up so you could not make a mistake. Nevertheless it was a relief when everything worked as designed. The bow thruster made steering the 60 ft boat into the lock easier. The hard part was controlling the stern. During orientation when I was entering the lock the stern scraped the side of the lock. My comfort level increased as we passed each lock. By the next day it was relatively easy to enter the lock straight and stop where directed by the lockmaster.

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Rachel on the walkie talkie.  Marcia was at the bow which is just under 60 ft in front Rachel.  The walkie talkies were needed to communicate.

David had mentioned that the locks were designed two centuries ago when the pace of life was much slower. The canal boat travelled a hair faster than a person could walk. This allowed us to attend to the rural nature of the countryside. There were pastures and forests abound.

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Windsor Castle
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A church along the banks of the Thames.
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A view of the Thames from the bow.
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The boat on the left was interesting. The stern slopes to the waterline. 
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A view of Windsor Castle on the way to docking on the Eton side of the Thames.
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Off in the distance I’m bent over driving a stake that we will be used to the tie the bow docking line.  Rachel is working the stern line.  We are anchored on the Eton side of the Thames.  Marcia, Rachel, and I walked into Eton and crossed the bridge to Windsor. 
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In Windsor, they apparently drive a Ferrari to the ubiquitous Scottish restaurant.  
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After fish and chips in Windsor, Rachel and I feed the swans.  They were highly competitive and aggressive with each other.
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In a lock as it fills up.
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In a crowded lock.

 

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In a different lock next to another long canal boat. Our boat is the one on the right.

 

 

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At the end of the last day on river, Marcia and I headed to the Bizzy Wash to do laundry.
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We arrived back at the boat to catch the sunset. Marcia took this photo on our last night on the Thames.  A lovely sunset to end our river trip.

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