About Me

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After thirty years of hiring, I finally bought my own 50ft boat in 2005, which was built in 2001 by Andicraft at Debdale Wharf. I mostly cruise single handed and have no problem with that, although it does take a little longer than with a crew. My mooring is on the Wey Navigation, so I have a choice of routes on the Wey or the Thames.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Stronghold on Tour 3

Thames Barrier Cruise.

Saturday 7th May

Out of bed at 05.00 and setting up the VHF aerial at the last minute. Andrew was there doing the same, but no words were spoken for fear of waking anyone who required another ten minutes in bed.
06.30 Awaiting Action Stations in Limehouse basin.
Kenny appeared at 06.30 and came aboard. His presence would enable me to go below to make coffee etc. during the trip and would be welcome during a long day. Extra crew also made mooring and locking easier, to which I had given little thought.
At 06.30 engines were started and shuffling boats around enabled us to get in the correct order for locking out, with three boats in the lock together. Limehouse Lock has no paddles or sluices, so to empty it, the radial gates are cracked open very slightly, which appears to be standard procedure with modern sea locks. Loud and long horn blasts announced our intention of entering the Thames. Three other boats were to lock out directly after us and the vanguard would take it slowly for them to catch up at the bottom of the tide at Barking Creek.
The morning was chilly and slightly misty, but there was no wind, which was a precursor to a hot day ahead. This dead flat calm would suit us perfectly. We had to be aware of the mud flats on a bend, because once aground on a falling tide would be a tricky situation to be caught in. Andrew had previously warned of the large ‘magnetic’ mooring buoys and sure enough nb Second Time Around left it too late and caught it a glancing blow in the fast running tide. They are not really ‘magnetic’ of course, but boats seem to be mysteriously drawn towards them.
Although I had seen The Barrier many years ago from the land, there is nothing more impressive than to see it from a boat and realise the ingenuity of the engineering. Andrew was constantly in touch with London VTS (Vessel Traffic Service), advising them where we were and which zone we were about to enter or leave.
The twin towers of Barking Creek Tidal Barrier eventually came into view. This was built between 1979 and 1983, which is about the same time that the main Tidal Barrier was built, but it is always closed prior to the Main Barrier.
Awaiting the turning of the tide.
.We turned here to stem the still outgoing tide, which had reduced speed by now and awaited the other three boats. Once Andrew judged there to be slack water, we began our return journey, again at a leisurely pace, because we were due to be at Limehouse at 11.45 for the locking out of three more boats to join us up to Brentford or Teddington. After Tower Bridge the water became distinctly lumpy with so many other boats about and Clippers travelling at about 30 knots. I just had to make sure that I hit the wash about 45 degrees, so that Stronghold pitched rather than roll side to side. Sure enough, the remaining boats duly appeared behind the convoy from Limehouse and we steered through Tower Bridge and the awesome sights of London from the water. Andrew had booked passage through Thames Lock at Brentford for 14.15 and we arrived there promptly at the appointed time.

Back through the Barrier.

Just to prove that I had been there!

Now it was about to get lumpy.

It seemed strange to me to see all this familiar territory once again after only a week ago. The plan was to moor up at Hanwell Bottom Lock and go to The Fox for well earned drinks and food. What I had not appreciated was that it was Andrew’s wife Francis’s birthday and Andrew generously paid for drinks and food for the whole party. That was a very busy pub, but a table had been reserved for fourteen people, orders were taken and we all had a splendid and enjoyable time.

I was pleased to see Doug Williams and James Bowsher there.They are world travellers from nb Chance. We had met briefly at the 2014 Olympic Park Cruise, whilst waiting for Bow Locks to open and from then on I have read their blog. My mate Terry often comments on their whereabouts, because I tell him where they are in the world. It frequently goes like this:-
Terry: “Hi Ray. Where are James and Doug now then?”
Ray: “ Oh, they are in Hawaii right now.”

A week or so later:
Terry: “Hi Ray. What are Doug and James up to in Hawaii now?”
Ray: “Oh no Terry, James and Doug are now in New York.”

And so it goes on, always a change of venue in the world, which is a cause of great hilarity between the two of us and to Doug and James after I related this tale to them.

With Doug and James at The Fox Inn.

1 comment:

nb Chance said...

Great to meet you Ray and a wonderful evening, James & Doug