MY BROTHER and I took Terra Nova out for a last jaunt of the season on Saturday.
We decided to head downriver from Shepperton for a change and ended up cruising all the way down to the London Apprentice pub at Isleworth before we turned back and were whisked along on the flood tide back to Teddington Lock and the non-tidal river.
One thing that struck me as we wended our way along was the number of boats that look as though they have been abandoned. We must have passed dozens of craft of all shapes and sizes that presented a sorry spectacle.
Two or three had given up the ghost completely and had sunk at their moorings but many more – covered in black grime, streaked with mould and with canopies that had long since disintegrated – presented a sorry sight.
To a certain extent, I get it. Being a boat owner is an expensive and time-consuming hobby and clearly as family situations change, some folk find they just don’t have the time, the enthusiasm or the financial resources to maintain their craft – but that prompts the question: ‘Why not sell the boat, pass it on to someone who will make use of it and recoup some of your investment?’
One particularly sad case is an aged launch at Port Hampton, which is well beyond any repair.
She looks rather like an old steam launch, around 30-feet long with a proper doghouse cabin, a tall smoke stack with what looks like a dolphin emblem on it and may well have been sea-going at some point.
Now, though, she ’s been sitting on the bottom of the river full of water for at least five years. Twisted out of shape, with the seams of her wooden hull clearly open and with weeds growing all over her rotting carcass, she presents a sad spectacle.
An ignominious way for any boat to end its life.
SALLY Dick from Desborough Sailing Club has written to me to let me know that there is a petition circulating to get the name of the new Walton Bridge changed.
Sally says: “The bridge isn’t actually in Walton and we think it would be a wonderful idea to alter the name to Prince George Bridge.
“We have the Albert Bridge, Queen Elizabeth ll Bridge and various other bridges named with royal names. Surely our new bridge, which was opened on the day that Prince George was born, ought to recognise that fact.
“Maybe if we manage that, we might get a right Royal Opening to it, when all is finished. Now wouldn’t that be splendid?”
I gather from Sally that the petition has already gone up to Surrey County Council, but if you feel like supporting the campaign, drop a line to the council at Surrey County Council, County Hall, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2DN.
THE Thames 21 environmental charity is holding a couple of clean-up days locally and is looking for volunteers to lend a hand. The first is at Desborough Island this Sunday (October 13) when they will be cutting back vegetation and doing a litter pick. That takes place from 10am to 1pm and if you’d like to join in, meet at the bridge from the towpath to the island.
The following Saturday, October 19, they’ll be doing similar work at Sunbury Lock Ait, again from 10am-1pm.