Sunday, 19 September 2010

Bray for the Day

Steve, our mechanic, reckoned if we set off early, we'd be able to get down to Windsor in a day. It was nice and sunny, so we took a leisurely cruise down to Bray lock, which we'd not attempted before. Going down through Cookham, Boulters and Bray locks all went fine.

Boulters LockBray LockThen tripboat 'Windsor Sovereign' came steaming very fast around a blind bend, on the wrong side of the river. We had plenty of room to pass on their starboard side, but their skipper wasn't having any of that. He sounded a fat blast on his horn, and headed straight for us. Which we took to mean, "Get out of my way, you idiots".

OMG!!I had to lean on the tiller, and managed to pass us port to port side without a collision. But it was a hairy few moments. We know that boats should usually pass port to port. But this was an unusual situation. He wasn't slowing down, and the safe thing to have done (i feel), would have been starboard to starboard. Oh well. Lessons learned. Look out for massive tripboats hogging the river on this stretch.

PARP!!Tucked us up nicely, opposite Royal Windsor racecourse, where we had a nice cup of tea. Then turned around, and made our way back to Bourne End. Going back through Bray, I bumped us into a wall, which was a little embarrassing. Don't know how it happened. Front end seemed to have a will of it's own. But the lock keeper had seen it all before, and was quite amused.

Anglers near WindsorAs it was after six in the evening, we had to operate Cookham lock ourselves. But it's a short rise, and everything went smoothly. So now we're confident that we can get down to Windsor in a day. We tackled three locks, in both directions. 'dogma' behaved really well. Nothing overheated, snapped, or went pop. And we didn't get rammed by the tripboat. A good day's boating.

Sumo Sniffs
Bray Lock wiki entry.


  1. One blast means he is going to pass you red to red, i.e. he is turning to his right.
    You will find that most comercial skippers will use sound signals to indicate their intentions. You really should get to know them if you are boating on the river

  2. Thanks for the comment, Brian. point taken onboard. and lesson learned. the next time we are on that part of the river, we will be extra vigilant for trip boats taking the bends wide, and then steaming straight for us at speed.

    Picture one shows that we could have easily passed green to green. with minimal course correction from either vessel. he could have had the middle he wanted, and we'd be tucked in on the left side.

    it's doubtful he'd have heard our "parp parp" car horn (turning to the left signal) at that distance. and to sound our horn, we have to
    stoop down out of visibility. Not a good thing to be doing with a big boat bearing down on you, i'm sure you'd agree.

    he left it very late to give that one blast. Shortly after picture two, when it is obvious
    that our bows are now facing right. and we are commited to passing (by the book) red to red.
    from his drift across the river, and his bows pointing straight at us, we'd already guessed
    he was going to turn right.

    but you're right. had we known that one blast was his intention, rather than a warning, our nerves would have been less jangled.