Coming Apart at the Seams!

Long hot summers are not good for old wooden boats. Planks dry out and shrink and suddenly things aren't as watertight as they were.

Endeavour's trip to Windsor to join the little ships and the Windsor knights took place slap-bang in the middle of our hottest summer for years. Even a 2 a.m. start from Bell Wharf was warm and when the sun came up sitting on the hatches was an uncomfortable experience.

Paul Gilson was skipper with Alan Bartrum and Finlay Marshall as crew. Demands for refreshing tea increased throughout the day as the boat headed into London while the temperature went up and up.

By Teddington Lock, going below was unbearable and once the kettle boiled it was almost impossible. By the time Endeavour reached Walton Bridge lock it was time for ice cream.

It was here that we encountered the local youth, hooded and loud they strutted the towpath like landowners. One youth gazed at the boat as Paul eased into the bank.

“'Ere, how d'you steer that fing? Is it that lump of green wood?”
Paul replied, “It's called a tiller and that is how we steer.”
“So, there ain't a wheel... cool!!

His friend was even more impressed. “You look like pirates on there. Cool.”

Strangely, our friends in the ADLS have mentioned we look like pirates too.

Maybe because we don't wear blazers and ties all the time. For our next big trip we have ordered a “Jolly Roger” flag which we shall be delighted to fly at the masthead!

The boat reached our overnight stop at Staines about 5pm. Once moored the drew hit the hotel bar and promptly ordered six pints of water. We really were dehydrated.

The following day we headed for Windsor. Arriving at a lock we joined a queue of Dunkirk Little Ships unable to enter because there was no lock keeper on duty and other boats were queued too. After a talk with other skippers it was decided we would operate the gates.

Paul took over and after half an hour everyone was through. Endeavour was due to pick up an important cargo at Datchet. Guests for our friends were due to be collected too so we elected to run a ferry service to Windsor.

Awaiting us was Peter Dolby, our recently retired membership secretary and treasurer. With him was a cool box containing Leigh Cockles which were to be our contribution to the picnic being held at Home Park, Windsor. We already had fish in ice aboard which was still cold despite the searing temperature. Our guests, the Windsor Knights and their families tucked in to our offering.

Many had never tried cockles before. Osborne's had done us proud; they were pronounced “delicious”.

For the trip back down river Andy Wood, Chris Bailey and Peter Dolby were in charge as the others went home by train. All went well until the QE2 Bridge when the engine stopped.

There was a hasty dive into the hold to bring up the anchor as the boat was liable to drift into the shipping lanes. Safely secured Andy discovered blocked fuel filters.

Once cleaned the boat got under way again. After lying up to get some sleep Endeavour was back in the creek. New filter systems have been fitted since this incident which should stop problems in the future.

During the night run Andy spotted light coming through the sides of the engine room hatch. The sun had dried us out. When she comes ashore there will be a comprehensive check on the hull and re-caulking where required.

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