Removing a Leeboard

IMG_7172.JPGDaybreak’s leeboards are made of oak  and weigh around half a ton. Taking one off, and getting it into our garden,  proved to  be quite a challenge. We were lucky to have help  from Kate and James, who had come to see us over the weekend. We started by constructing a makeshift crane. Once we had a means of lifting it out of the river we lowered the outermost leeboard into the river and towed it round the bows to the bank. IMG_7176.JPG

Kate and James hauled the leeboard up with a block and tackle, while I controlled the angle of the  ‘crane’ using one of the two tack  rollers on the foredeck of Daybreak. Sally kept an eye on the security of the  strong point we had created in the lawn and took the photos. img_7175


We had one failed attempt when the rope on the block and  tackle snapped. We decided to make some adjustments to the position of the crane and then, after a lot of heaving and winding, we managed to haul the leeboard up the bank .


The next attempt worked and once the leeboard was up on the level we were able to move it around on rollers.IMG_7188.JPG

I can now see how much work I need to do to restore the board, which I built over 20 years ago.

Abingdon to Staines

img_7123We cruised back down river, passing this herd of cows who seemed unconcerned at a Humber Keel passing close by as they bathed in a narrow section of the river. We cruised as far as Walllingford, but had to stop a mile below the town as there were no moorings available.




After mooring up we noticed a plume of smoke and heard sirens. We  walked down the towpath to see where it was coming from. We didn’t have to walk far before we came across a burning haystack in the centre of a field. By the time the fire brigade had extinguished the fire there was not much left of the stack.



As we set off the following morning we passed a hot air balloon drifting low across the adjacent fields.




We stopped for lunch at Goring, where we renewed acquaintance with the owners of the very smart new build barge Joni.  We took the cog boat to explore some of the weir streams.


As we passed this fine wooden clad house, we spotted one of the few remaining paddle and rymer weirs. The owner of the house saw us photographing it and invited us to moor up and look at what the Environment Agency is doing to update the gear. He was angry about what he considered to be a complete  waste of money.



On the trip up river we had looked for the post box which used to be on Sonning bridge, but it had been removed.  We were pleased to see it has found a new, equally inaccessible home in the middle of a huge railway embankment wall just above Reading.


img_7151We moored up for the night just below Reading, again across the river from Laurel. Marcus came to tea and he said he would like to do a picture of Daybreak in the morning light. He was out early in the morning taking photos and when we went over later in the morning he had already started  painting. We are looking forward to seeing the finished artwork.



Later that day we saw friends Penny and Basil on board their barge in Henley and decided to stop to say hello and to have our  lunch. It proved to be an expensive lunch as we were charged for  a night’s  mooring, even though we were only stopping for an hour.





As it was now October there were fewer lock-keepers and we had to operate most of the locks ourselves. We moored overnight in Marlow again.


img_7156We had been  lucky to  have lots of sunshine and fine weather during our trip, but after leaving Marlow it continued fine, but increasingly windy. By the time we reached Bourne End, where there was a long, straight stretch in line with the wind, there were waves and white caps. We are used to these conditions on tidal waters, but it came as a bit of surprise on the upper river.


wp_20161005_15_55_00_proWe moored up at Cliveden for lunch and then continued down to Boulter’s Lock. As we motored into the lock we saw a pair of working narrowboats in the lock cut. We moved right down to ensure they could fit in the lock with us. As they got closer we saw it was the Narrowboat Trust, who deliver coal to riverside properties. As we hadn’t ordered any we asked if they could stop  at the Orchard.  They suggested that they could deliver to Daybreak  at the next lock.


wp_20161005_16_09_20_proWe let them into the small lock first, where they unloaded 20 bags onto the lock-side. We then took Daybreak into the lock and moored her alongside the coal. We then emptied the lock, so that the deck was almost level with the lock side, and the narrowboat crew then helped us to load it onto  Daybreak’s well  deck.

img_7158With our cargo of fuel on board we then carried on to a mooring above Boveney lock. As there was still  a couple of hours of daylight, we took the cog boat to explore another weir stream.





The next day was a short run back to Staines where we arrived in time for lunch. After I had unloaded the coal of course.














We spent a day exploring the town of Abingdon, wandering through streets full of historic buildings.






We were particularly taken with a beautiful garden that was run by volunteers as a place for quiet reflection.






The garden backed on to a backwater of the river, on which was moored a rowing skiff that was almost full of rainwater. We thought we should bale it out as a thank you for our visit, which we did later when we explored the backwaters in the cog boat.



In the evening we visited a pub we had spotted during the day. When we went in we met three men from a narrowboatthat we had seen a couple of times before on our trip up river. As we talked we found that they were all from Brixham, where we have a cottage, and one was actually the estate agent who sold us the property! The following morning they came to have a look round Daybreak.




They then carried on up the Thames, while we turned round and headed back down river.



Up the Thames to Abingdon

wp_20160923_19_02_28_proApart from a couple of short trips upriver we have not cruised Daybreak much this year, so we decided to take a longer trip up the Thames while the weather remained reasonably warm and sunny. Our first leg was a short one, up to Old Windsor to moor alongside our friends Caroline and Carl’s beautiful barge Spaarnestroom.


The next day we cruised up to Cliveden where we moored up to one of the islands. While there we met a group of young people who had arrived in canoes and were camping on the island for the weekend. They were really interested in Daybreak and we invited them aboard for a look around.



We spent the weekend at the island and then cruised up as far as Marlow. Whilst we were moored in Marlow, Joss and Dave,  neighbours from Church Island, arrived on their narrowboat, and moored alongside. We met up with them later in a local pub, along with Sally’s cousin Royston and his wife Evelyn. The next morning Sally’s brother Graham, who also lives in Marlow, visited.

We then cimg_7016ontinued up river as far as Shiplake, where we explored another series of islands and eventually found a suitable mooring for the night. The next day I ferried Sally ashore to go for a long walk, while I did some painting and made a start on scraping down the mast, which is in need of re-varnishing.



The following day we continued up river, stopping at Reading for lunch. We  moored opposite the beached remains of the wooden Humber Keel Laurel, which has been made into a riverside studio by the artist Mark Randall. He came over to join us for lunch and we went over to have a look at some of his work.



After lunch we motored on through Reading and past the keel Hope, which is being restored by our friend Matt Biss. He has done a lot more work since we last saw her. He has removed the large wheelhouse and restored the tiller steering, so she is looking much more like a working keel.



We moored for the night on the meadows at Pangbourne.






Above Reading the river meanders through miles of beautiful countryside. For some years now the Thames is  being used by fewer and fewer boats, so for much of our cruise we had the river totally to ourselves.img_7060



Some of the bridges on the upper Thames are a bit tight for a vessel the size of Daybreak. This is the bridge at Clifton Hamden with its distinctive pointed arches. After passing through the bridge we moored up in the reach below Culham Lock.



The following morning we passed through Culham Lock, which we had to operate ourselves and  took 20 minutes to fill. From here it was a short cruise into Abingdon, where we moored on one of the plentiful free moorings provided by the town. We moored right at the end so that we could tie to a substantial tree, rather than relying on mooring pins. We were then able to spend some time exploring the beautiful historic town of Abingdon.