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Boat Blog: Barking Creek 2

Posted by indigodream on 8 September, 2012

Rewind to 28th/29th July…

Whoops this post is so far behind the pace – this is Richard’s account of the convoy to Barking Creek – undertaken while I was off being an unwanted Olympic volunteer at the Rower’s village!

That is a big beast to bring up the Thames

Once a year the St Pancras Cruising Club organise a little jaunt to Barking Creek.

Now this involves a few things that those of sound mind would not consider, starting with taking a flat bottomed, shallow draughted boat onto a tidal river, then going through the extremely bumpy waters round the Isle of Dogs, past the Millennium Dome, through the Thames Barrier, doing a quick dance with the Woolwich Ferry, past the entrance to the Royal Docks before turning across what, by now, is a 1/2 mile wide river to go into Barking Creek.

Then you get to do it all over again on the way back on Sunday.

Needless to say you are only allowed to go on these trips once you have satisfied the SPCC that the National Health Service is aware of your poor mental state and will do something about it. Obviously a fine line required there as it so hard to steer wearing a straitjacket.
So why on earth do it? It is an absolutely fantastic trip, it is organised by the SPCC so you know you will only sink once and when you get to Barking the good people and the mighty impressive Bill, who owns the boatyard/moorings, serve up a fantastic barbecue – the social event of the year. Additionally, this year it seemed more important then ever to keep navigation going – thanks to the “Powers That Be” who have exhibited an impressive degree of incompetence, it has been hard to navigate round London. A simple thing like getting a convoy of boats down to Limehouse and out onto the tideway almost defeated the finest minds in CRT.

Nevertheless Andrew Phasey persevered and explained to anyone that would listen that tide times meant that the convoy could only take place on the opening weekend of the Olympics. He flashed an impressive looking tide table at them, there are lots of numbers there and hey, permission was given, but sadly out through Limehouse rather than Three Mills Lock

We wondered would they notice if we sneaked up and undid a few links …

Now, you may recall that I worked the Opening Ceremony as a Volunteer so got back to the boat 2 hours or so before we had to get up and head out through the lock. Sue unfortunately could not come, her Doctor had declined to declare her insane so she had work to do and had the dogs to look after.

I toyed with the idea of going solo, after all they say Belgium was meant to have good weather that weekend; but Sue applied an insanity test and put out an appeal for volunteers. On the way out I was ably assisted by the Lucky Ducks Amy & James, Ian of nb Water Witch and Dave & Wendy who have had boat withdrawal symptoms whilst there boat is being sorted up at Leighton Buzzard. For the way back the Lucky Ducks fled, Dave and Wendy drank loads of alcohol as preparation, Ian bought Jackie along and an impressively fit Roger cycled across London to join us in Barking.

How did we get on? Well there were a total of 7 boats going out in 2 lockings, with us fortunately in the second lock so that gave me 15% more sleeping time. The crew turned up early, well the Lucky Ducks had stayed on board, so they had the important job of throwing a bucket of cold water over me first thing. Locking was smooth enough considering the early hour, the tideway was reasonably gentle and with such able crew I handed over the tiller and brewed gallons of coffee, breakfast figured somewhere and at some time.

In the past we have gone down through Greenwich on a dropping tide and that is always fun -as you pass the cruise ship mooring, the tide tries very hard to push you into the mooring buoys. This time there was no cruise ship but a big grey thing with helicopters and guns rather than fenders so we all stayed clear! HMS Ocean is vast, a very impressive sight

Moorings at Barking Creek

The cruise down to the Barking is a real treat, there is so much to see. Greenwich is great from the water on one side whilst on the other you have the ever changing vista of Canary Wharf. We got to see the cable car working, James took us through the Thames Barrier and then dodged the Woolwich Ferry before going past London City Airport and the entrance to the Royal Docks. The turn into Barking Creek was awesome as ever, Sue has written about the barrage before and it is a mighty impressive sight.

Now the moorings at Barking Creek look like something out of a Mad Max film but instead of chants like “7 boats enter, one boat leaves”, you get to meet Bill and the crowd of boaters up there. They are extremely welcoming and a great bunch of people. We are always recommending that people go on a SPCC Cruise, if you can only go on one then make the Barking Creek cruise a priority if only to go to the Barbecue!

Sunday’s start was far more reasonable, Dave & Wendy had stayed the night and had heroically helped to clear the debris left over from Saturday night’s barbecue before I came into the land of the living!

I will let the photos describe the way back, this time it was Wendy who joined the elite group who have driven a narrowboat through the Thames Barrier before we encountered the usual choppy waters round the Isle of Dogs. The journey back seemed a bit slow and by the time we locked in the tide was running out at pace, particularly for the boats in the second locking. Not wanting to hang around I took us into Limehouse Lock at pace, just as the wash from a City Cruiser hit us – it was an interesting turn but nicely central. Behind us, nb Peace of Pearce had to do a bit of manoeuvering, whilst the last boat had a close encounter of the wall thanks to ‘nasty Eddie’.

A great weekend cruising, my thanks to all who turned up to help me!

Photoblog:

Don’t look so worried folks …..

I am sure James knows where he is going

What do you mean “it’s behind me”?

Ah you were not joking!

You get some serious stuff coming in at high tide

and the the river gets seriously wide, just about enough room to wind

The Barrage is such an impressive sight, to get a sense of scale if you click on this photo get a bigger version you can just about see nb Doris Katia going through.

Ah Sunday morning now and waving goodbye to the good people at Barking

Flood gates open and we are off!

Barrage again!

Serious guillotine gate

Heading upstream through the Thames Barrier

Looking confident …

because Wendy is taking us through the Barrier

Another one in the it’s behind you series!

Tax disk and insurance check

This in the alternative “ah it’s in front of you..” series …

But no worries, the boys in black are around offering navigational guidance

Choppy Waters I

Choppy Waters II

Choppy Waters III

Almost …..

Watching the last boat bump in

Now that looks like a man who has enjoyed his morning bobble on the Thames.

but what happened to the mobile phone?

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