gypsy on the thames
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At last she reaches St John’s Lock
Where eager schoolboys run amok

‘Take down that sail’ the lock man said
And mast as well – there’s a bridge ahead

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A path allowed the little boat
To be led through with me afloat

Another footbridge soon became plain
Down sail and mast, then up again

way, so I sailed straight in to the admiration of a group of school children out on a spree – only to be gently chided by the lock-keeper, who explained I should have lowered the sail before coming into the lock. This added to the difficulty of the trip, as there was all too rarely anywhere on each side of the lock where I could tie up head to wind. Down went the mast

for St John’s bridge just after the lock for a second bridge, and then I was off again alone. A lull in the wind just before a footbridge emboldened me to try dropping the mast with the sail still on it, which went very well. The sailing was great fun – despite the incredibly tall poplars, the boisterous wind made it very easy reaching, something I would rarely again