The return trip by St Pancras Cruising Club, from Queenborough to Bow. After several nervous days watching the weather forecast, which was quite changeable, we decided it was safe to go. Forecast wind speeds 10 mph from the NW in Sea Reach (Southend-on-Sea), gusting to 15. This was pretty much spot on.
Low water at Southend was at 0600, which meant we need to set off soon after 5. Click here to see:
- the outline passage plan, with projected and actual timings. Following a rather complicated discussion with CRT, en route we adjusted our arrival time at Bow to 1345, to lock in on a falling tide.
- the charts to show the waypoints in the plan, and the log recording where we actually went (for the less familiar part of the trip only).
- the detailed data from the log.
- real time photoblog from me
- .. and from Indigo Dream
- a lovely album taken at the Thames Barrier from @Thameswatch
- some excellent shots taken at North Woolwich by Andrew Christy – including us being buzzed by Pochahontas!
Most boats were stirring at 0430 – a very quiet night, with almost no wind. Four boats were swinging at a mooring, which was surprisingly pleasant.
Convoy leader Andy Spring, envying the stern navigation light on DORIS KATIA
And we’re off, at 0505. The ebb tide was very weak, so that we hoped that if we pottled along slowly then the other nine boats would be able to break away and join up in formation pretty swiftly. We had a contingency plan if this didn’t work (as exercised at Gravesend on the way down)
Boats forming up nicely – it’s almost as if there was a plan!
The buoy at NORE SWATCH had been replaced or repainted since our last visit. You can see quite a sizeable dent on the side – not caused by any of us! We turn 90 degrees to port here and head up river, bang on low water.
… which is MID BLYTH. London Gateway in the background, which now has more cranes since our last trip – weighing in at 2,000 tonnes each.
To see a description of how the cranes are offloaded from the ship that brought them all the way from China, see the video clips here and (warning, excessive superlatives!) here, and a Twitter feed here.
… and a very large container ship (282m, according to Indigo Dream) on their way to London Gateway.
Outgoing vessels were told to navigate to the south of the main buoy line, to give it room to turn. This made me a little twitchy, but VTS reassured me.
You can see the ship that delivered the cranes.
One was being offloaded at each high tide.
A bit of pitching for PANACEA and BLEASDALE, but their scuppers performed well.
You can just see the incoming ship being turned around by tugs, before being pulled backwards onto the jetty.
And here at MUCKING NO 5 we did a synchronised turn to starboard to get across to the north side of the river as quickly as possible. The detailed plan is set out here – it worked!
NORSKY (11,500 tonnes, 180 x 26m) getting ready to leave the lock at Tilbury. The skipper had been asked by VTS to wait for ten narrowboats, and fortunately he could count. We did think about nipping down the gap, and then turning at the other end, so we could tick this lock off our lists. But we decided that might not be appreciated.
Dartford Crossing. Just before this we had got mildly chastised by London VTS for cutting the corner a bit at Broadness. Detail here.
Passing the MV Balmoral – I plan to go on her to Lundy later in the year (see here)
Safely moored at Limehouse.
I packed up my various gadgets (an annotated version of this photograph is here!). Then after a snooze it was time for a pint in the Grapes and then a survivors’ supper in the very friendly Cruising Association
AND FINALLY …
ARTHUR DENT – with Andy and yours truly fighting over the tiller?
.and bringing up the rear, DORIS KATIA