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Kris Cruising On The Thames


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On Monday 13th June I started a long overdue Thames trip. We have a week aboard Lady Kristina from Kris Cruisers, 3 of us aboard being my Mum, Carol and my daughter Natalia. We also have our recently acquired rescue Shih Tzu, Suzie on her maiden boating voyage. I've been on the Thames quite a few times over the years but this is my first trip since 2016 (much longer for Mum and Natalia) and the first time with Kris Cruisers.

Living in South Wales the journey to the Thames seems like a pootle down the road compared to the distance to the Broads. Nevertheless it was a 6am alarm call as I was picking up Natalia from Bristol and Mum from Reading station. All went to plan and we were soon altogether and doing some food shopping. We had a brief refreshment break in Windsor sat by the river in the sunshine and then headed just down the road to Kris Cruisers at Datchet. Driving in to the boatyard there was a lovely customer service touch I've never experienced - a parking space reserved for us, labelled with our boat name. It was around 2pm and the boat was all ready for us. Lady Kristina is an Aquafibre 38, operated by Kris Cruisers since new in 1990. It's been very well maintained and updated over the years and overall condition and cleanliness was as spot on as you would expect. The only slight disappointment was there was no bow thruster (I had thought there was but to be fair there's none specified) so it's been back to good old fashioned throttle and rudder. We received a prompt and thorough show over and trial run and then we were off upstream. 

 

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Kris have always been "The go to" charter yard in that stretch of The Thames. Never at the budget end, but good.

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17 minutes ago, ChrisB said:

Kris have always been "The go to" charter yard in that stretch of The Thames. Never at the budget end, but good.

Yes they're a family business which has been around for over 50 years. Their prices compare well to the competition nowadays and I wish I'd hired from them years ago.

It was a short cruise alongside Windsor Great Park to our first lock, Romney. I did miss having thrusters coming in to the lock but we managed without issue and were soon on our way and passing through Windsor. Boveney lock soon arrived and then some beautiful properties around Bray and approaching Maidenhead. At Bray lock I received a minor ticking off from the lock keeper for switching the engine off before we'd secured the stern line. That was fair comment but I'd been thinking about past experiences of being ticked off for having the engine running. By the time we reached Maidenhead we'd have been ready to stop for the night but decided instead to carry on through Boulter's Lock so we could overnight at the scenically lovely Cliveden Reach. We found a lovely spot on the pay moorings on the right and enjoyed a very peaceful evening.

 

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Those Pearls handle nice, by the time you come back you’ll be wondering why you ever needed a bow thruster!

Looking forward to the rest of the tale.

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Tuesday 14th June

Somehow I've been very jammy with the weather on last year's boat trips and this and this week is continuing the trend. After some breakfast and a short walk with Suzie it was roof back and away in the warm sunshine. Cliveden Reach is possibly my favourite stretch of the whole Thames with its steep bank, trees and islands. We were soon in to Cookham lock and onwards past Bourne End. So far the Thames has proven to be quieter than I expected. There's plenty of boats around but largely it feels more like South Broads traffic than North, if that makes sense. We're yet to experience the weekend though so we'll see what happens then. At Marlow lock we had a short wait for the first time but probably only because its dimensions to allow many boats to fit in. We moored at Marlow then which has a lovely setting and enjoyed some relax time and a bit of shopping. Later we continued and through Temple lock and Hurley just after. Just after Hurley lock we made a stop for a water point that rivalled Womack Staithe for the slowest water pressure in the world. What with waiting for the hose to be free and the time it took us to fill we were there a full hour. It didn't matter much though and it gave Natalia the chance for a dip in the river to escape the heat. We decided to head for Henley-on-Thames overnight and passed the regatta course with preparations and rowing training in full swing. I've never been but judging by all the tents and paraphernalia it looks to be a huge event. We found a mooring spot some distance up from the bridge and enjoyed a meal out at The Angel by the bridge, sat on the terrace.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, kpnut said:

What a lovely river. I always think of the Thames as being the bit through London, how mistaken am I?

It is lovely and yes, with enough time you can cruise all the way to Lechlade in Gloucestershire.

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50 minutes ago, kpnut said:

What a lovely river. I always think of the Thames as being the bit through London, how mistaken am I?

The closest you can get to London in a hire boat is Teddington lock, after this it becomes partially tidal.  I have done it a couple of times, incidentally in the boat Simon is on for a launch event at Chelsea Harbour.  Long time ago but pretty sure both Alexandra and Kristina went.

Im often surprised the Thames does not have more hire boats, it’s a fantastic river with so much to see and do.

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5 minutes ago, NeilB said:

Im often surprised the Thames does not have more hire boats, it’s a fantastic river with so much to see and do.

Me too. Time was when there were many more hire boats of course but it seems the industry has shrunk in the same way the Broads one has.

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6 hours ago, Broads01 said:

Me too. Time was when there were many more hire boats of course but it seems the industry has shrunk in the same way the Broads one has.

But on the Thames, the reason is different - shoreside property prices.  You just cannot afford to run a boatyard on such hugely expensive land.  In Kris Cruisers' case, you can't do much else with that particular plot, so they have managed to survive.

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I vaguely remember doing one holiday on the Thames. Unfortunately dad doesnt have any photos of it. All I know is we picked up the boat from Reading but no clue who the hire company would have been. I do remember getting fish and chips while we were waiting to take the boat over and Rasputin by Boney M playing on the radio which would be around 1978. Funny what you remember as a kid of 9 ! 

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The bit I know best:- From Staines to Henley certainly has "Style" lacked by other waterways. 100% Vaughan is correct. Money keeps it pristine. Big Money.

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I am old enough to remember when the above reaches were the playground of the rich and famous. Visiting The Complete Angler, Marlow, Ye Olde Bell, Hurley etc their preferred mode of transport being immaculate Bates Starcraft.

I noticed the last time I crossed Marlow Bridge, Chris Evans had a beautiful Starcraft on his mooring. Where the old J G Meakes yard and chandlery once stood.

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6 minutes ago, ChrisB said:

their preferred mode of transport being immaculate Bates Starcraft.

And Andrews slipper stern launches.

Andrews yard at Bourne End had sheds big enough for all customers who had bought their launches, to have them stored under cover and maintained in winter.  In the end, one Andrews generation passed on and the next generation had no choice but to sell.  You would not possibly recognise the site now unless you knew exactly where it was.  Rows and rows of bijou executive apartments.

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There is one yard that carries on the tradition. Specialising in Slippers and Rivas.

Peter Freebody and Co at Hurley.

Peter Died much too early a few years back but his son and daughter carry on the tradition

peter_freebody_video_home.jpg.6dcd7414d1713bf5de4f8cb19a854ea7.jpgpeter_freebody_winter_storage01.jpg.3f0d61726c8e463763c2f22b1609d3d8.jpg1406623488.jpg.f54a0b9043be111640a2ccc2e47eb562.jpg 

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10 hours ago, NeilB said:

The closest you can get to London in a hire boat is Teddington lock,

Unless you have a narrowboat, in which case you can do the tidal passage to Brentford and then get into Central London via the canals. Although I think I'd stick to the non tidal upper river.

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4 hours ago, Vaughan said:

But on the Thames, the reason is different - shoreside property prices.  You just cannot afford to run a boatyard on such hugely expensive land.  In Kris Cruisers' case, you can't do much else with that particular plot, so they have managed to survive.

I believe the land from which Kris Cruisers operate is owned by the elderly lady who lives on the opposite bank.

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1 hour ago, RS2021 said:

I believe the land from which Kris Cruisers operate is owned by the elderly lady who lives on the opposite bank.

That would be the elderly lady that lives in the house on the top of the hill and who keeps, or did keep a blooming big cannon trained on the dividing bridge that Broads01 went under shortly after collecting their boat.

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