Teddington to Brentford
After a pretty poor night’s sleep we were ready to leave Kingston and make our way to Teddington for the final part of our journey on the Thames. The regatta was already underway when we pulled our pins out and then gingerly passed along Kingston Riverside. It took us less than an hour to reach the lock mooring at Teddington where we tied up and began our wait for the high tide at 16:10. We had lunch on board and then walked back into Teddington’s main street where we had wandered the day before. Killing time was akin to waiting for a flight at the end of a foreign holiday. It’s fair to say that we were both a little bit unsure as to what our trip on the tidal section of the river would be like so we were reassured after talking to the crew on a boat also making the trip and who had done so a number of times before.
At 3.30pm we made our way into Teddington lock and were joined by three more narrowboats and three widebeam boats. The tide had raised the river level considerably and as a result our drop was only about two feet. The gates opened, the engines started and we were off! Non boaters won’t realise that it is impossible to know the speed at which a narrowboat is travelling. Normally on a canal, Caxton’s engine is run at about 1500rpm when conditions permit and that seems to propel us at a reasonable speed. On the Thames we have been running at 1500 to 1700 rpm and we still have made little wash in the deeper, wider water. We decided that we should travel at a speed consistent with the other boats that were travelling with us and this turned out to be between 1900 and 2000 rpm. With the flow of the river and the receding tide we still don’t know what our speed was but we made rapid progress and one hour later we reached the turn at Brentford. This turn involves going hard to port through about 120 degrees but with the warning that the corner can’t be cut otherwise there is the risk of grounding and there will always be the pull of the tide to drag the boat off course. We made the turn without incident but in the few moments when we were at right angles to the river flow and just before we became sheltered by the lock entrance, it was a strange sensation to watch Caxton moving forwards and still be pushed sidewards downstream.
A few moments later and we were in the right hand Thames lock which seemed very short after a month using the long locks of the Thames. We passed through very quickly, assisted by the lock keeper and then found ourselves back on what seemed like familiar waters. This was still a river, The Brent, but resembled a canal with its narrow, windy nature. We crawled past a number of houseboats and then reached Brentford gauging locks where again we were helped through by CaRT lock keepers. Shortly after we found a space on the visitor moorings in Brentford dock where we tied up for the night.