You'll have to get up early though, as we had to be in the sea lock by 7.30. We left our moorings at 7.15 to get through the two bridges into Sharpness docks
We easily cruised under the first one, but the second had to be swung for us by prior arrangement
There were a couple of large commercial ships in. This one was having its paintwork tickled up by a man with a roller on a very long pole. He was quite surprised to see four narrowboats so early in the morning.
Although we had to be in the sea lock at 7.30 we didn't actually go out until after 9
as we had to wait for the tide to come in
It was one of the highest tides of the year. You can see how much further it needed to rise
The wait gave us plenty of time to get to know our pilots. Wye Knot 2 (David) and Vagabond (Bob & Nicola) were going out first and as David was on his own he got pilot Bill
Bob, David & Bill
We were taking up the rear of the convoy and pilot Tim was going with John & Angela on Time Out, basically because they had more room being a cruiser stern
Tim, John & Roger
Despite having a pilot on board, Angela was a bit apprehensive. We'd had lunch with someone on Sunday who'd done the trip previously and who seemed to take great pleasure in telling us lots of horror stories. In the event she had absolutely nothing to worry about as the weather was perfect for it with full sun and minimal breeze.
As soon as the tide reached it's highest point they let us out in pairs.
Goodbye Sharpness. We've had a really good time on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal and will definitely be back soon.
Once we'd cleared the pier we turned left towards the Severn Estuary and our destination for the day - Portishead Marina
The incoming tide had stirred up all the mud so the water was like milky coffee
As we left the sea lock Chico looked up as if to say "they're at it again!" and promptly curled up on his fleece and went to sleep
Anticipating rougher waters, we'd fastened all the planters together and put the other herb pots in the shower. I'd put all the ornaments onto the bed and taped up the glasses cupboard but to be honest it was so smooth a crossing that I needn't have bothered. Roger had taped up all the external vents too but there were no waves to splash water into the boat or engine. Better safe than sorry though.
My Smiley flag came out of storage but there was hardly enough wind for a flutter. The last time it saw daylight was when we crossed The Wash 2 years ago. Conditions were slightly more bumpy then!
Maintenance goes on continuously
Roger was tempted to shout "You missed a bit!" to the painters but they probably wouldn't have heard him
In between the two bridges the water became muddier
and a bit lumpier, but still not enough to make the boat rock and roll
This is the entrance to the River Wye
The breeze got up a but around the bridge towers and Smiley woke up for a few minutes
Angela took a break from making bacon butties for John and pilot Bill
and Chico woke up to move into the sun for a while. He's always fastened on when the boat's moving but doesn't like his life jacket very much so it was left handy "just in case"
This photo of John Angela and pilot Tim shows how relaxed everyone was
It didn't seem to take very long to make the trip to Portishead which you can see below. The sea lock is in the centre of the photo Two and a half hours goes very quickly when you're having fun.
By now the tide was going out rapidly and sand banks were appearing everywhere. This is just outside the lock
which is HUGE!
Luckily there are floating pontoons in the lock as there's no way our ropes would have reached.
It gave us quite a shock when they open the paddles to let the water in
but David was fine, once his heart rate had steadied that is ..............
Because of the pontoons we didn't need to stay on board so the debrief started early
Mooring positions were clearly shown while we were in the lock
and after a brief tour round the marina we moved in with the "posh plastic" - yogurt pots and sailing yachts surrounded us. You pay by the metre here so although the monetary value of those boats was a lot more that ours, because narrowboats are much longer we paid much more for our mooring than they would. It cost us £3 per metre (£54) which included use of the lock and one night's stay and we didn't begrudge them a penny. The marina is lovely and with such amazing weather we almost convinced ourselves that we were in the South of France...............dreaming, always dreaming.....
Once we'd got settled we adjourned to the nearest pub for a full debrief and refuel
By now the tide had gone out fully and the lock entrance had totally dried up
That was it......no boats in or out until the next high tide. It's strange for narrowboaters to have to think about tide times but more about that tomorrow when I tell you how we came into Bristol earlier today.
Bye for now, see you again soon
Thanks to John for some of the photos