Day 24: Money, money, money!

July 6th, 2010

This morning’s thesis progress was hamstrung by a lack of internet bandwidth – a combination of the webcam and Dropbox syncing my increasingly large documents had led to me using all of the allowance (3GB) for this month, and the next month’s allowance doesn’t start until the 19th. I called 3 and spoke to an upgrades man, who agreed to put me on a 5GB tariff from next month for the same price – result! Sadly, he was less helpful about my immediate internet shortage – he suggested getting a PAYG SIM card instead. I remembered that I had a Vodafone PAYG SIM card that I’d bought on eBay, which has the nice feature that any credit on it doesn’t expire – unlike other ones on the market. But it had no credit on it. Unlike 3 and O2, Vodafone’s network doesn’t let you connect to the internet to top up if you’re out of credit. Instead, I walked to the garage on the other side of Maidenhead Bridge and topped up the account using a cash machine. As I got back, a man from South Bucks Council came and relieved me of £8 in mooring fees. After he’d gone, much fiddling ensued as I tried to make the router talk to Vodafone instead of 3, but eventually it came good. By this point a good fraction of the morning had gone by, so I finished updating my CV and renewed Innocenti’s insurance rather than sit down to more thesis.

In the afternoon I cruised up past Cliveden, with its dramatic setting high above the river, and passed a group of little wooded islands where a number of boats had moored – very Swallows and Amazons!
At Marlow the water was suddenly covered in boats – kayaks, sailing dinghies, a gin palace and a dragonboat full of schoolkids who did a fair job of keeping up with me. They were from an activity centre just upstream. As I came around the corner to Marlow Lock, I became concerned about the groups of kids in kayaks rafted up in the navigation channel. They were with instructors, but the channel was narrow and there were boats queuing for the lock and others coming out. I went into the lock with a Dutch barge and another narrowboat. Marlow Lock is deep, so getting the ropes on was quite tricky and a bystander gave me a hand. Then the lock-keeper called “move up a bit, I want to get these canoes in behind you”. Sure enough, 30 kids and 2 instructors were in kayaks in the lock behind me, with another two instructors on the bank. I was not happy about this – the kids were between the two narrowboats and packed in between my stern and the bottom gate. I very nearly asked the lock-keeper if he thought this was safe, but held my tongue. As the lock filled (which admittedly the locky did very slowly) one of the instructors showed off, doing tricks in the gap between the big boats in his little whitewater kayak. I was most unimpressed – had anything happened and if either of the boats had got away from the lock wall, the kayaks would have been crushed between the boats and people might well have been injured. The locky passed comment on the instructors stunts, but no more.

My plan had been to carry on to Hambleden Lock for the night, as the guidebook showed a selection of mooring sites. Unfortunately, one turned out not to exist and the other looked shallow and awkward and charged £6. I went on into the lock just as the locky knocked off for the day, but fortunately it was simple enough to do it myself. I asked a lady coming downstream about moorings in this area. She said “well, I’d try Henley Town moorings, as everywhere else will be extortionate, but don’t pass up a good opportunity”. About a quarter of a mile beyond the lock I saw a nice bit of bank in a mooring field and moored up on it, a little bit of a struggle in the crosswind. Having just got everything tied up I went over and read the little sign – mooring £3 per metre per 24 hours! Innocenti is 18m long, so that’s £54! Ouch, no thanks! I took my business elsewhere.
As I rounded the bend onto the Regatta course (the Regatta was last week) there were workmen on the banks packing away marquees and grandstands, and a few scullers practicing on the long straight course. I came to a sign in a field “Mooring £50 per day”. I carried on. As you get into Henley the boats got more expensive and the grandstands got grander. At the end of the course is a large stage where the Henley Festival will be held this weekend – it starts tomorrow. I passed under the bridge and saw a line of moored boats, with tempting gaps between them. As I motored past, I saw a sign “Henley Town Council – mooring charges. Regatta and Festival Week, Mon/Thu £40. Fri/Sun £50. Full week £275”. Goodness me! Further along, one of the signs had had the Regatta and Festival week prices displayed below the normal ones, revealing that the normal price was £9. I pressed on, resolving that I could just about get to Reading by nightfall if I really had to!
At Marsh Lock the locky was still on duty, though he really seemed more interested in his gardening than in helping… I had to hold tightly to two ropes to keep Innocenti from colliding with an enormous gin palace moored alongside. I pressed on to Shiplake, where I eventually have found a spot on a free 24 hour mooring (yes, they do exist on the Thames!) and was helped to moor by another liveaboard narrowboater moored next door. A long day, but at least tomorrow will be shorter – only five miles to Reading.

Day 24: Maidenhead to Shiplake – 18 miles and 7 locks.
Total so far: 283 miles and 160 locks.

One Response to “Day 24: Money, money, money!”

  1. John Witts Says:

    Greetings, Brave Captain!!

    Never have I read a blog-post more likely to have me casting the breechings of the bow main armament and double shotting the guns for close action!

    HOW much per metre per night?!!!!!!

    Either you were being invited to share the freehold, or someone is involved in piracy……..or taking the piss.

    As far as kayaks and plastic detritus is concerned, remember the rules of the road on the River cam:

    Shoot first.

    If any questions arise, ask them a long time after the smoke from the final salvo has cleared……

    Cheers for now,


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