Well we did it! We finally left Bristol, three months after we bought Bluey.
The bridge out of the harbour was booked to be opened at 10am so I stuck the L-plates on and we moved the 100 yards from our mooring to the bridge.
Just as we were waiting for them to open it Roger had a phone call from the Harbour Master's Office......"that'll be £27.90 please". I suppose in the scheme of things that's not too bad, considering that they had to stop the traffic, swing the bridge to let us into Cumberland Basin and then operate the lock just for us.
It wasn't butterflies fluttering in my stomach.....more like a herd of elephants having a disco! We've done scary things before but always in the company of other boats. This was different, we were all alone.
They opened the gates and let us out onto the River Avon
By the time I'd stowed the ropes the elephants had
buggered off disappeared and it was time to settle down and enjoy the journey.
The Clifton Suspension Bridge looked lovely as we passed underneath. While we've been in Bristol at least 2 people have jumped from it, one caught on the CCTV cameras stark naked! He/she must have been more concerned with ruining their clothes than ending their life.
This was the first time I've had a decent drive of Bluey and I LOVED it. It's very different to steering a narrowboat but I don't think it'll be long until I take the L-plates off.
We've got two steering positions, inside and out, but until we feel more confident we've decided to use the outside upper deck. After all, we've been used to steering the narrowboat from outside for the past 8 years. It was cold but we were well wrapped up so it wasn't too bad.
It was just before high tide when we set off from the lock and slack water as we cruised up the river which was like a mill pond. It was great to be mobile again and we saw lots of different birds, which made a great change from those awful seagulls that had pooped all over our roof while we were in the harbour. It's going to take me ages to clean their muck off the roof once we get onto the G&S canal.
It didn't take us long to get to the M5
Once we'd passed under that we had our first glimpse of the shipping channel. Roger used the VHF radio to contact the Bristol VTS office to make sure there wasn't any large ships in the vacinity
David and Bob, this photo is especially for you. We missed the green buoy by a long way this time (we'd hit it when we came up the river on Fizzi back in June)
The waters in the Severn Estuary were quite a bit rougher than our last trip, but Bluey coped admirably and we didn't rock and roll too badly.
Portishead soon came into view
Radioing ahead meant that the lock was set ready for us
and we were met by Kelly, one of the engineers who'd worked on the engine. He lives locally and came to make sure we'd had a safe passage.
They opened the gates and raised us up to the marina
where we're moored for the night
Providing there's no fog in the morning we're booked to go out of the lock on the morning tide, accompanied this time by one of the Gloucester pilots. If for any reason it's cancelled we'll have to wait here for the next available passage, and at £42 a night I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that it all goes to plan!
Please come back again soon and find out how we went on.
Bye for now.