Below is some information to hopefully help you decide to use Bygone Boating as your number one choice for a wonderful holiday on the River Thames, and the things you will need to know and take into account!
First of all, below is a review from a couple who hired Bernadette ll this year (2017) - may give you a few ideas, and a feel for what to expect:
"Arrived at Harleyford Estate security gate entrance in good time and were directed towards the new lagoon car park where we were met by Jeff & Sue. A baggage trolley was provided for access onto the pontoons which made life a lot easier transporting our gear to the boat. Bernadette was sitting in the sunshine on the end berth looking very grand and welcoming. Jeff assisted with baggage transfer then proceeded to provide us with a comprehensive handover detailing all relevant information that we would require while Sue pointed out all domestic arrangements. We were then given the opportunity to conduct a test drive under Jeff's instruction with the additional offer of transiting a Thames lock for the experience if required.
We were waved off on our weeks adventure heading up-steam towards Henley on Thames passing through several locks with lock keepers to assist and advise. We spent our first night on board berthed at Henley (£10 / night) within easy walking distance to the town centre. Bernadette was particularly well equipped with all the little extra's that made living on board very comfortable. Good fridge space to cool the wine, loads of storage for food, colour TV , central heating, shower and 4 berths, with all linen and bedding provided, the galley was particularly well stocked with condiments and spices for cooking if you so wish.
We somehow managed to trip the 13amp plug electrics but one phone call to Sue and the problem was rectified in the flick of a switch. We proceeded up stream stopping at Sonning using free berth just up stream of the lock, we also took fresh water at this point. The Coppa Club provided us with an excellent lunch, village church was worth a visit as was the local pub dating back to the early 1600's. We continued up stream to Pangbourne Meadow berthing on the river bank overnight using our berthing spikes for the first time.
Next morning we walked into the village and was presently surprised to find all amenities that one would require for topping up on board supplies, there is actually a launderette which is very handy if so required. We took the opportunity to visit the toll bridge in Pangbourne a novelty in this day and age.
It was decided that we should now make the effort to visit Windsor Castle so turned Bernadette down stream with a plan to either re visit our home marina berth which is available throughout our stay on the boat or push onto Marlow for the evening. The weather was kind and we arrived in Marlow late evening having operated several locks by ourselves this proving to be fairly straight forward and giving us a sense of achievement. Berthed at the park side (£12 / night but free use of local leisure centre and facilities included) very close to town centre which provided a tasty Indian take away from Malik's. Marlow town is full of eating establishments with a wide and varied choice.
We were starting to get into a routine in the mornings, pop engine on for 15 minutes to provide hot water certainly enough for two hot showers have breakfast taking in the vista either on the river or watching the many dog walkers antics in the park.
We sailed Marlow stopping at Bourne End Marina for fuel & fresh water and pushed on for approx 3 hours which found us in Windsor. Again we deployed our berthing spikes on the Eton side of the bank (£8 / night) visited the castle and completed the long walk being lucky enough to see some of the wild deer in the great park.
Thursday afternoon the week is going so quickly, we head back up stream stopping Boulters lock for a refreshment at the pub which has super berthing right outside.
Moving on up stream we berthed overnight at Cookham (£5 / night) no shops here, but loads of choice of eating out which we took the opportunity to do so.
Fridays forecast was always poor, heavy rain in the morning so took the opportunity to visit Cliveden house and Gardens (NT). The house is now an hotel so not open to the general public as such but enjoyed a stroll round the gardens and a very welcome coffee and scone at the tea room. The afternoon weather improved we stopped for fuel at Bourne End and briefly at Marlow then decided to spend our last night on board Bernadette on our Marina berth in the sunshine.
A wonderful week on the Thames on a lovely classic motor cruiser that drew many comments and favourable words from passers by and fellow boat users. Bernadette is a pleasure to handle, with the addition of a larger rudder and fitted bow thruster is very manoeuvrable.
We can not wait to book our next adventure on this lovely little lady, extending our cruising range further a field, we did enjoy the Thames it has loads to offer for all sorts of reasons.
Bernadette is a 4 berth boat but we feel it would be a tight squeeze for 4 adults but is certainly very comfy for a couple."
Sounds like they had a great time!! Hope you do too! This was written when we were at Harleyford - we are now at our lovely new Marina at Benson Waterfront.
Back to 'Your Cruise':
On board we will have left you a copy of the River Thames Book. This has all the information you could possibly need for your holiday afloat. In there are phone numbers, chart pages of individual sections of the Thames, moorings, lock information, points of interest, restaurants etc.
This great little book will also help you decide your route – though you will probably have done some reconnaissance work before you arrived!
We will also be sending you, and leaving one on board, a copy of the Boating Handbook – another excellent book for you to read before getting on board and refer to. It will be of great help – enabling you to get used to terminology, and the ‘code of the river’.We know you have experience, but always handy to have a quick 'refresh'.
The locks are manually operated by a Lock-keeper. However “out of hours” and during the “low season” you can operate the locks yourself. This great fun and easy to do once you get used to them.
Entry and position within the lock, is to the instructions of the Lock-keeper. You will be required to rope your boat bow and stern. Engines are required to be stopped for the duration of the filling or emptying of the lock. Exit is also to the directions of the Lock-keeper.”
We do ask that the 'skipper' has boat handling experience.
We will have gone through our handover, covering all areas of the boat, and we will also go through a lock with you before waving you off, answering any questions, but we are also on the end of the phone at any time during your time aboard. Do not hesitate to call us, however small (or large) the question is!
If you do have a problem, mechanically or electrically, and we can’t talk you through it over the phone, we will get someone with you as soon as possible. There are phone numbers on the boats to call the RCR (River Canal Rescue)- just state boat name.
A good website to keep your eye on if you are unfortunate enough to have some bad weather is:
http://riverconditions.environment-agency.gov.uk/ although we are always on hand with any information you require.
We will meet you on your arrival and we will have sent you the access code for the entrance gate.
We aim to have your boat ready to board from 12:30 or 2.30pm, you will be informed which! (subject to it being returned on time!). If you arrive earlier than the allotted time, just let us know. You can always visit the Waterfront Cafe for some refreshments and we can meet you there.
What To Bring?
Although we have tried to give you as much storage space as possible, a boat will not have as much room as your own home!
Ideally use holdalls for your luggage as they can be folded down and stored away easily. Try and be a bit conservative with the amount of clothing you bring too – not like me who always takes everything apart from the kitchen sink! A torch is handy for when returning to your boat in the dark, and also a first aid kit – just in case!
Deck shoes or trainers are advised – must be non slip footwear.
Food and Essentials
With regards to food – the same rule as with clothing really, so maybe just bring enough initially for a couple of days. Part of the fun of boating is exploring new towns and villages to get your daily supplies. There is a small fridge on board, that also has a freezer compartment – but again only small – either ice or peas – whatever your preference.
Electricity on Board
There is a lead supplied for connection to shore power when it’s available – nb: this will also charge the batteries.
The boats are fitted with 12v batteries for lighting, water pumps, fridge, phone chargers.
There is also a pure sign wave 1000w inverter fitted which allows the use of items such as the toaster and hair dryer.
Of course, this will considerably use more battery capacity, so running the engine will be necessary or the batteries may go flat.
The TV is also used through the inverter when no shore power, and the batteries should be ok for a couple of hours or so without running the engine.
If you have any questions at all, do not hesitate to contact us!
We would love to hear from you.
Sue & Jeff