Pretending to be a Harbourmaster

The Port of London Authority run a club for all recreational boaters – the Thames Tideway Navigators Club. It’s free to join. One of the many benefits is that you have the chance to take a ride on one of the PLA’s regular Harbour Service Launch patrols. Today I had the pleasure of joining Darren Knight (who organised the PLA’s part of the 2012 Diamond Jubilee Pageant) and his colleagues on a trip from Barrier Garden Pier in Woolwich up to Putney.

There were no great emergencies, and the flashing blue lights were not used. But I got to see a lot more of the river bed than is usually the case – we punched the last of the ebb all the way. The PLA aim to do regular patrols around low water if they can, to spot obstacles on the river bed, and over-enthusiastic mudlarkers. Darren drew our attention to a number of features and hazards, and gave us some tips for safe navigation.

Captions are above the photos to which they relate. Weather: overcast. Number of narrowboats spotted: nil.

The HSL heading downstream
I walked from North Greenwich tube station down to the  Barrier

Here and there the path diverts inland.
The bottom part of these gates work like lock gates – raising the flood
wall to the required height.

Woolwich barrier

Alpha span – never used for navigation

The PLA’s Barrier Garden pier

Bow Creek at low water – not much water!

Limehouse marina – the outer cill was visible, you can just see the water leaking underneath the gate

Coin street – the Corporation of London’s rubbish depot.
I was surprised how many of the rubbish barges (and indeed other boats) sit on the bottom at low water. Also, a good example of campshedding, and why you should keep away from it.

The tricky non-alignment of Southwark, Cannon St, and London Bridges

Some of the many boats working on the Tideway Tunnel project

Westminster Bridge.
A good illustration of why you should in general aim to go
through the middle of bridge arches
St Mary’s Church, Battersea.
I have it on good authority that there will be a new visitor’s mooring here soon 

Lifeboat on a shout at Wandsworth Bridge

The River Wandle. The Council are dismantling the semi-tidal weir here, so maybe narrowboats will be able to get up here again.

Darren explaining something.

Approaching Putney pier

The lifeboat returning to Chiswick

The view from the foreshore – not a lot of water at low tide

DRIFTWOOD arrives with the stakeboats for the University Boat race this weekend

All ready to rehearse the start.


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