Before setting off we had to get all the rigging on, trying to make sure everything went on in the right place and the right order.
Having finished getting Daybreak rigged and with plenty of supplies stowed, Sally and I set off from Staines on Saturday 3rd August. Our departure was delayed slightly by discovering that the leeboard head chain was over the man rail and it took a while to get it all in the right place. The rest of the trip was uneventful, although we had to get used to going through the locks with the leeboards on again. We moored up above the lock at Teddington and continued our preparations before locking through onto the tidal Thames. As Daybreak is our home we always have to make sure everything is stowed securely down below and all the gear is lashed down on deck. Although we were not making a major sea passage, the tidal Thames can get very lively with the effect of ship wash on the shallow waters outside of the main shipping channel.
We had originally planned to stop at the draw dock at Isleworth to clean off the weed that was growing on the hull. However by the time we reached Teddington most of this weed had come off, so we decided to spend an extra day at Teddington. As it turned out there was plenty to do, deploying the anchor over the bow, installing our chart plotter and installing a new vhf radio. I also fitted the navigation lights in preparation for our early start the following day. On Sunday evening we were joined by Steve and Graham, our crew for the trip down river, and Miranda, Alex and David who joined us for a pub supper.
We locked through on to the tidal river at 0400 and made our way down to Richmond, where there is a tidal barrier that opens two hours either side of high water. As it turned out we had to hang around waiting for the barrier to go up and then pass under the raised barrier with the water still dripping off it.
One advantage of our early start was that there were no trip boats operating in central London, but the river was still busy with the high speed Thames Clippers carrying commuters and other commercial traffic. It was noticeable that the new Thames Tideway sewer project is generating lots of additional working craft movements.
Having had the benefit of the ebb tide for most of the trip we ended up punching the first of the flood tide to reach our chosen anchorage at Higham Bight, just below Gravesend. As we arrived we were greeted by a WWII spitfire flying overhead and doing a loop above us, before it continued on its way heading south. After lowering the anchor we checked the depth all round with the lead line and made sure we had enough chain out.
After lunch we raised the mast, then lowered it again to sort out the slabline, and then raised it again and checked everything was in the right place. After our early start and a long day we were all ready to turn in early, especially as we would be leaving at six the following morning.