the voyage of friendship 10 – the river wey and an unexpected adventure

the voyage of friendship

part 10 - the river wey and an unexpected adventure

Hi family and friends,

After taking a week off from my adventures for an amazing holiday in Iceland, I've now returned to the river Wey where I left Therapy, my floating home. Ewan picked me up at the boat to go to the airport and brought me back here afterwards (so no cheating!) and now after nearly 3 months aboard she really does feel like home.

I had a day to restock and clean Therapy before my next friends, Philip and Caroline, my son in law's parents, arrived. We have grandchildren in common so there was lots of praise and photo sharing of our beautiful Mary and gorgeous George. Philip has been a ship's doctor and although a narrow boat is different, they both embraced learning the ropes and even started to think about getting one for themselves.

The weather was fine, if a bit cold, and we made good time up the river Wey to Guildford, where I changed crew. My friends had time to say hello to each other before I put Philip and Caroline on the train and took my Scottish friend Val back to the wharf where Therapy was moored. Despite being 72, Val eagerly took on lock duties, climbing up and down the ladders or jumping onto the boat roof.

We travelled on to Godalming where the limit of navigation is (canal speak for "boats can't go any further") and turned the boat, mooring up in a pleasant open meadow for the night leaving ourselves a couple of hours cruise back to Guildford.


Narrowboat in wide water

Poor Val drew a short straw in timing her visit, as next day was my 3 monthly check up with my oncologist in Swindon and we needed to be on the train by noon. We were up bright and early and did all our regular checks to the engine. When we moor up in the countryside where there are no mooring posts, we use big stakes, hammered into the ground to hold the mooring ropes.

Val worked at the front (bow) to pull out the stake and cast off while I did the back (the stern) and also pulled in the gangplank. I didn't pay any attention to poor Val's struggle with her peg, and jumped on with rope and plank to find the boat slowly drifting out at the back. I quickly threw the plank back into place but didn't have the courage to use it to get back ashore as it was now 2meters and increasing from the bank.

I had time to pick up the gangplank and take it aboard but in no time the current took the stern and whipped it out into the river. I immediately tried to drive back in but the current was way too strong and quickly reversed the direction of the silly boat- how did that happen???

We tried everything we could think of to turn Therapy back towards Guildford but she just didn't want to go. It was now about 10am and we had a train to catch to Swindon. Flustered, I started looking for turning points upstream but Val was calm and sensible and suggested walking the mile and a half into town.

narrowboat in lock

Two ladies beside boat

The day was fine, Bunty enjoyed her first train journey, Ewan met us as planned at Swindon station and all went well at hospital. We took takeaway Chinese food back to the boat for our supper and looked forward to another boating day tomorrow.

Val had a Scottish friend, Anne in Godalming who kindly invited us for supper and so next day we followed the boats nose back to the start of the navigable river. I quickly warmed to Anne and we enjoyed an evening of superb food and lively discussion about Scottish independence.

Val left from Godalming and I spent the next day taking Therapy back to Guildford. I now feel quite confident about taking her through locks by myself, something I thought I would never be able to do. A kind lady on the bridge at one lock even remarked that I made it look easy. The weather has suddenly improved, it's sunny and warm, the birds are singing and spring is in the air. The towpaths are now full of people jogging, strolling, riding bikes and walking dogs, and everyone is happy to say hello and remark on the warm weather. I see several other craft passing me as people bring their boats out of hibernation, and I begin to feel a sense of pride at having come through the winter.

I hope you're enjoying spring too,

Lots of love, Sally

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About Sally Kershaw

I’m Sally, a boater for the last 10 years, living aboard a narrowboat for the last 7. I also have a seahopper folding dinghy that I’m learning to sail and a 23ft Sailing boat that I’m “mending”. In no particular order, I love bothies and grandchildren and foraging wood for our stove.