Having considered all the pros and cons, I have decided to go to London via the 'pretty route' of the Grand Union rather than the 'motorway dash' down the Thames. The river locks are only manned 9 to 5 with an hour for lunch. Although boaters are allowed to use the locks outside these hours they are very heavy and power is not allowed because we might do quite a lot of damage if we opened all the paddles at once!
My other concern was the tidal passage. Altough re-assured by the lock-keeper at Teddington that if we arrived there at high tide (about 8am on Tuesday) we would be in Brentford lock 45 minutes later, there is a possibility that we would not be there in time and then we would have to go against the next tide 13 hours later to get through Brentford lock before it closes. I don't think my little 45 year old BMC would like that.
The Best Mate is happier because we think canals are safer than the river. They are not so deep and don't have a current to tow you down and drag you under if you fall in. They don't have big weirs to jump out and grab your boat either. Also, once started, the weather has to stay dry to ensure that the river levels remain steady. Otherwise I will be racing the flood behind me!
The GU means working a longer day but, then, what else have we to do?
I just hope that my crew agrees or I might start off with a mutiny on my hands.
We leave at 9am on Thursday, heading north (to go south!)
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