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Boat Blog: Tidal Adventures (1)

Posted by indigodream on 18 August, 2010

Saturday 14th August

Lou allowed Monty to share her sofa - she's such a tart!

I didn’t sleep very well, but the tide times meant that we needed to be up early. Just as well we had the consolation of Greygal and A’s company for the day. They turned up at 8.30am with Monty, the only one of their extended greyhound pack that we haven’t met. They felt that the presence of a large, timid boy might help to fill the gap for the day – they were right – he’s a sweet boy, though I’m not sure that he ever got used to the fact that humans come in Richard-size!

Mind you, there’s no use being sentimental – Blue, being an all-action dog, would have found the tideway boring, boring, boring…….unlike us – we knew were in for an enthralling weekend!

Today we were doing a circular cruise from Limehouse Basin, past the Thames Barrier, then back to Limehouse. We were ‘tail-end charlie’ again and shared our lock with nb Two Hoots and nb Ryeland. Judging from the way they expertly brested up to us (one on the way out and the way in) they know what they are doing but have never been on the tideway. They were delightful people and it’s easy to see the advantage of convoy cruising – it does encourage socialising at locks, you feel safer and in the bar afterwards, of course which is probably less safe!  The only downside is having to wait for the convoy to clear the lock – not so bad when waiting in the marina but a bit hairy on the busy tideway!

The tidal Thames is an adventure from start to finish – Limehouse Lock itself is awesome, especially when the gates open to let the water out – there are no paddles! Because we had crew on board, I got to sit at the front with Greygal and watch the lock gates open – the tide was going down at this point and there was quite a drop down to the tideway – it made an impressive cascade. Greygal had the Indigo Dream firmly held but we both had visions of surfing the wave onto the river!

Note: When locking through Limehouse, loop fore and aft ropes  through the ‘wires’ on the lock walls – take the rope back onto the boat and take a loop round your mooring cleat but do not tie – you may need to loosen slighty from time to time to allow the rope to move down the wire.

Uh, got a tight hold of that rope, Greygal? Water cascading out of the lock - look, no paddles!

As the water equalised, the great lock gates opened and there was the tideway in all its glory.

Note: When you turn  downstream from Limehouse Lock, stay on the port side until you can see round the blind bend – only cross the tideway when you have reasonable line of sight.

I’ll let the photos tell the story – we took over 250! However there are a few highlights to mention…..

  • The crab that we photographed in Limehouse Lock was probably a chinese mitten crab – an alien invader which is gradually creeping up the Thames…..
  • There was a bit of traffic on the water – a big barge tucked in behind us and we realised it was ‘Lennard’ – the fine barge that was the last part of the greyhound obstacle course in Barking Creek! I was amazed to see them – they were moored right on the quayside and blocked in by two other mega-barges – I have no idea how they got out, or how they intend to get back in! Greygal  relived her trip on the Calder and Hebble when we were overtaken by a big humber barge!
  • The river feels choppy to start with but it is surprising how well narrowboats handle this alien environment.
  • It is great circling round the big Canary Wharf buildings
  • As we rounded the Isle of Dogs, we experienced a thrill of fear when a large cruise liner came into view. Luckily she was moored up otherwise I think we’d be saying “this river ain’t big enough for both of us”!
  • Going downstream, as you come round the bend at the Isle of Dogs, there is a considerable current which pushed the boat to the right. Be aware of the drift and use a few revs to stay in the channel.
  • Going out through the Thames Barrier is always a thrill
  • We unintentionally upset London VTS by turning across the river a bit too close to the barrier – you have to ask permission for that, though you can turn further down at your leisure – oops! We’ll know next time.
  • We learnt that if London VTS call you on Channel 14 (the normal watch channel) then they’re just giving you firm advice; if they ask you to change to channel 22 then you’re in for a bollocking! Luckily our transgression didn’t merit channel 22…..

Journey's end - locking up to Limehouse Marina....

We turned with the tide and had to dawdle on the way back to allow enough water to come over the cill at Limehouse Lock – what a great chance to enjoy each and every sight on the river – you wouldn’t get that opportunity on a trip boat. Mind you, neither would a trip boat be rocking around in the wash from passing ferries and the rising breeze, prompting me to cling on to the front doors (I was lookout for the lock) and spontaneously start singing “eternal father strong to save”. It was with some relief that we turned into the lock cut – it was no less choppy there but it was reassuring to tie to the rocking pontoons within reach of shore! We locked back in Limehouse with little drama and our first tidal adventure was over.

We met up with our fellow boaters in the Grapes later on – the tide was very high indeed, with water lapping through the boards of the pub’s waterfront balcony. We enjoyed the sight of another enormous cruise liner travelling downriver, preceded by a huge tug which created a wash several feet high; the tug travelling behind the liner was a little more moderate. We supped our pints, immensely relieved that we were securely tied in the marina – I think that Indigo Dream would probably have fitted into this cruise liner’s swimming pool!

Photoblog:

If you were part of the convoy and would like the full versions of these photos please get in touch – we are happy to burn a disk but will probably give you everything so you must not be scared to use your delete button (extensively).

Assembling the convoy at Limehouse Lock....

Rafted up and waiting for Limehouse Lock...

You get all sorts of gongoozlers at Limehouse Lock....

Entering the tideway downstream of Limehouse - the clouds looked more menacing than they were....

Barge 'Lennard' on her way back to Barking Creek....

There's all sorts of stuff on the river.....

That's one brave rower - there's a lot of BIG traffic on this end of the river....

Greewich....

The convoy coming back upstream.....

Greygal and A at the Thames Barrier.....

Cut down to size - nb a new song (I think) dwarfed by the barrier and the Tate n' Lyle wharf....

nb Ryeland and nb Two Hoots coming through the barrier....

nb Felonious Mongoose approaching the barrier....

Monty at the Thames Barrier - he'd rather be in his bed!

That's better...

Lou on the Thames - the one and only time she came off her sofa!

Lynx at the O2

nb Two Hoots at the O2...

Doris Katia leading the convoy past Canary Wharf - difficult to get high rises and low narrowboats into the same shot!

Entrance to London Docklands - we were there a couple of years ago - I'd love another chance to explore....

Monty at the O2....

The convoy going upstream past Greenwich...

The convoy gliding past cruise liner 'Amadea' - I'm glad she's moored up!

Treasure hunters....

This made us laugh!

Waiting for the tide to rise.....

Good use of an old crane 'base' - lots of nautical/wharf architecture along this stretch...

Low tide - just downstream of Limehouse...

Another iconic view....

Having fun?

nb My Talitha...

nb Serena....

nb A new song....

nb Chiltern Rose and nb Felonious Mongoose....

Approaching the entrance to Limehouse Marina - we were all pointing downstream, into the rising tide, for a bit more control at the helm.

It got a bit choppy while we were waiting for Limehouse Lock....

But luckily we were safely in the lock cut by the time these jokers started doing handbrake turns.....

4 Responses to “Boat Blog: Tidal Adventures (1)”

  1. Adrian said

    Amazing pictures… I cannot wait until I join you for a similar adventure on Saturday…

  2. Neil Corbett said

    Wow, I’m really really REALLY envious

  3. indigodream said

    Come on down, Neil, I’m sure you’d fit in this weekend’s convoy!

  4. indigodream said

    Apologies Neil, just caught up with your blog – hadn’t realised that you’re not cruising at the moment. Hope Claire recovers soon so that you can get a bit of Autumn cruising under your keel!

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