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.
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.”