On Friday morning we launched the inflatable so that Kate, James, Steve and Sue could go ashore to look around Erith and pick up some supplies. While they were away Sally and I lowered the mast and stowed the rigging, in preparation for going up through London. We were just finishing this when the shore party arrived back. They had not been back on board long before we had a visit from a PLA (Port of London Authority) launch. They just wanted to know what we were doing and left quite happy when we explained. We just had time for a bite of lunch and then it was time to start the engine and continue up the river.
After passing through the Thames Barrier it was not long before we were entering central London with all its familiar landmarks. This was a first for Steve and Sue, who were thrilled with all the sights. I was concentrating on navigating through the bridges and keeping out of the way of the numerous other vessels using this stretch of the river. Many of these travel very quickly and cross back and forth across the river as they visit the various piers. It was not helped by the strong breeze that had got up and which made it difficult to hear the radio on the open deck.
I was relieved when we passed Chelsea and there was much less traffic on the river. The wind also died down a bit and we had a very pleasant cruise up through Chiswick. As we reached Kew I realised we were going to be too early for the half tide barrier at Richmond. We slowed right down, but were still going over 4 knots and the higher we got up the river the less water there was. I decided to tie up for an hour at Brentford.
Just as we were letting go a trip boat appeared round the bend. We needed to turn around but I did not want to cross in front of him, so I just held station while he passed. After passing us he called up on the radio. I thought this would be to complain about us being on the wrong side of the river. I was very pleasantly surprised when I found it was just to have a chat about Daybreak, which he remembered seeing up at Pangbourne some years ago.
From Brentford it was a short trip up to the half tide barrier, which was still dripping as we passed underneath. Richmond looked very jolly with throngs of people, music and lights. However I had to be careful not to get too distracted as the river is much smaller here, with lots of boats moored to buoys close to the channel. After passing through Twickenham we approached the lock at Teddington. As we did so there was an amazing firework display just above the lock, which seemed to have been laid on especially to celebrate Daybreak’s return.