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Archive for July, 2013

Boat Blog: A little meander round the Thames Barrier…

Posted by indigodream on 31 July, 2013

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” – Samuel Johnson

We’re not tired of either, but I can understand why blog readers might yawn at yet another tideway trip!

The crew of Indigo Dream looking unusually smart - though Liam on the helm has let the side down by taking his tie off!

The crew of Indigo Dream looking unusually smart – though Liam on the helm has let the side down by taking his tie off!

Rewind to Thursday 11th July

Richard took the boat to a posh corporate do at Foreman’s this evening to celebrate the launch of the Design Council’s Beyond 2012 initiative. While other people slogged there by train, tube and cab, Richard turned up grandly on Indigo Dream and moored up right outside! . He had a fine time, managed to tell off a top Planner for not mentioning boats when she talked about the waterways and returned to Limehouse by boat at the end of the event – making it sensible for him to stay the night on board.

In the meantime I was at home with the hounds, feeling rather uncomfortable after receiving a threatening call from a “have you had an accident in the last 3 years” type call centre (probably in Mumbai) – I pointed out that we were registered with the Telephone Preference Service and the heavily accented man on the phone went ballistic – told me my address and said he’d be round in 15 minutes! I told him I’d ring the police and put the phone down. I rang the police – I knew there was nothing they could do, but I just wanted to flag the incident with them. They were certain that it was a crank call and that nothing would come of it, though they did stay on the line past the 15 minutes just in case. I could feel the truth of what the police said, but I still came down with a stress migraine and, after battening down the hatches against intruders, had a restless night’s sleep. In case you were wondering, Richard did offer to come home but that would have been silly. The police thought it was nothing and so it’s proved….

The very gorgeous Sharron Davies MBE

The gorgeous Sharron Davies MBE

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Bunch of reprobates, who let them in there

Never let Engineers near a free bar

Never let Engineers near a free bar

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Beautiful evening for a cruise

Friday 12th July

We had the usual Indigo Dream logistics to contend with – Richard and I met up at Limehouse with the intention that he would check the engine and top up the tank with two jerrycans of diesel, I would attend the briefing then he would go home to the hounds and I would cruise the weekend with faithful crew Sarah, Andy and lots of hounds. I should explain that the vet/physio have advised that Ty and Ollie shouldn’t go boating for another few weeks hence the division of our labours. However, it was never going to be that simple!

I went to the briefing (as planned) andย  was delighted to see that there were 17 boats taking part in this weekend’s convoy. Limehouse lock can fit three narrowboats (abreast) – sometimes four if there are two short boats that can fit in the length. If there are enough experienced people available, the SPCC aim to group two less experienced boats with an experienced lead boat. It was gratifying to see so many old friends at the briefing, but it was even more exciting to meet boats that hadn’t cruise the tideway before. We were scheduled to lead nb Teezy to the barrier on Saturday then nb Liberty Bell and nb The Lady C to Brentford on Sunday.

nb Wiaterlily showing the proper technique for passing by the "magnetic" buoys - the tide will push you onto them if you're not vigilant!

nb Wiaterlily showing the proper technique for passing by the “magnetic” buoys – the tide will push you onto them if you’re not vigilant!

Although the formal briefing is informative, the best bit of the evening is the dinner afterwards. It gave us a chance to catch up with Doug and James – they were having another attempt at taking nb Chance through the Thames Barrier; their last attempt having been scuppered by the wind a few weeks ago. It also gave us an opportunity to talk to our locking companions and make individual arrangements for the cruise. By this time, though, I was being overcome by last night’s lurking migraine so we had the first change in plan – Richard would go cruising and I would go home to the hounds.

Saturday 13th July

Sarah and Andy turned up in the wee small hours with six hounds!

Andrew Phasey’s favourite phrase is “flexible is too rigid a concept” when planning these convoys, and so it turned out. The second change in plan involved a boat dropping out of the convoy in the morning and a change in the locking order – this meant that Indigo Dream would be locking out about half an hour earlier than expected and with different companions. From a tidal access point of view this was good news – the convoy was travelling to the Barrier then down to Margaret Ness on an ebbing tide; this gives a small locking “window” before the water drops too low over the cill at Limehouse. However Sarah and Andy had some chores to do in the morning so it all became a bit frantic.

A beached Clipper - we don't need to worry about her wash then :-)

A beached Clipper – we don’t need to worry about her wash then ๐Ÿ™‚

I gather that the river was mirror still and that the convoy had a great transit – what a contrast to the convoy a few weeks ago, when we sat shivering on the balcony at the Grapes, watching the river being whipped by the gusty wind!

By the time the convoy came back, conditions at Limehouse were brutal – the relentless sun radiated heatย  from the water, the buildings and the surrounding steel boats – it was too much for the hounds. Everyone piled into the cars and came back to the house.

There was more shade in leafy Surrey and we were able to set up a paddling pool for the hounds – they weren’t impressed as Richard picked up each of them in turn and tipped them into the water! After watching the first three hounds go in, the others soon scarpered before being dragged out for a ducking. However, they got their revenge by running into the house and shaking water all over the floor. The kitchen was soon awash, making the paddling pool quite redundant ๐Ÿ™‚

We were very worried about Big Sid – it took an age to cool him down, but eventually all the hounds stopped panting and we had a lovely evening talking cruising and hounds over a large chinese takeaway and several beers. We were sad to miss the opportunity to mingle with the convoy at the Grapes, but it was much more comfortable at home and I so enjoyed seeing the eight black hounds taking their ease around the garden….

Photoblog:

As always, I’ve put a large number of photos into a public Facebook Album – maybe we should take fewer than 400 photos a day, but the tideway is so beguiling!

There are some iconic images to be had - even away from the main "sights" of London..

There are some iconic images to be had – even away from the main “sights” of London..

Mirror finish and a convoy in good order approaching the barrier..

Mirror finish and a convoy in good order approaching the barrier..

Wonderful sight....

Wonderful sight….

Even the canals are rarely this calm...

Even the canals are rarely this calm…

Disturbing the peace....

Disturbing the peace….

Foxtrot span in defence - looks pretty immense at low tide - wonder how it looks at high water?

Foxtrot span in defence – looks pretty immense at low tide – wonder how it looks at high water?

There seemed to be a bit of London barge convention going on - the convoy joined it, making it a very colourful river scene - hasn't been this busy since the jubilee!

There seemed to be a bit of London barge convention going on – the convoy joined it, making it a very colourful river scene – hasn’t been this busy since the jubilee!

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Dog Blog: Ty’s Doings..

Posted by indigodream on 30 July, 2013

Deer me pals

Fis is me favrit bed - if I cud just stay here foreva, it wudn't matter that me toe woz broked..

Fis is me favrit bed – if I cud just stay here foreva, it wudn’t matter that me toe woz broked..

Iz not bin ritin coz mummy Sue sez Iz not dun any doin’s to rite about. But Iz got lots to say coz me life is too bizzy, an Iz a poor houndie wot never gets enuff rest…..

Iz broked me toe munfs ago, an I woz a poor hobblin’ hound wot shudn’t leave his bed, but mummy Sue kepts takin’ me to the vet – eventooally the vet sed he had to take me toe away…

“But that’s MY toe” I sed,

“You’re better off without it” sed mummy Sue, wot woz feelin’ broke on account of the bills from me broked toe getting hinfected all the time….

Iz had to go an have anna’s fetic – I duzn’t mind anna’s fetic coz mummy Sue makes them give me flooid wots makes me betta quicka. Wot I duzn’t like is bein’ in hospital wif labradors wot go “OoooooooOoooooooooooOooooooooooooOooooooooooOoooooooooooooooooooooOoooooooooooooooooooooOooooooooooooooooooooo” foreva and eva.

Wen I got home I had to have a big wee coz of the flooids, but I woz a bit wobbly an mummy Sue woz wurried I mites wee on me own bandij so I hads to wear a silly boot; it woz all too much so I wents to bed – Iz neva eva leaving me bed again…

‘Cept I had to go back to the vet, like every free days, wot is the same as all the time; and me fut woz in a silly bandij for 2 hole weeks, which is the same as foreva…

On the uvva hand, mummy Sue sed I didn’t have to do boats while me fut woz in a bandij – wot woz good, coz I hates boats.

So wen the vet took me bandij off Iz chewed me stitches an the bandij went back on; then the bandij made me sore so it cum off butย  Iz hads to wear the “ring of shame” an’ a boot an a sitcky plaster. But Iz qwite clever and got the hole lot off wen mummy Sue wents to the pub and Iz had a good chew me stitches agen – oooh it woz so gud. Wen Mummy Sue got in from the pub and saw me foot, she made sum funny faces – I spect she woz happy coz Iz proved how clever I is. She woz so bizzy mutterin’ “stupid hound how am I going to explain that to the vet, I promised him I’d be stop you licking blah blah blah….”ย  that she cut her own finger while making ma an’ Ollie a chikkin dinna – it woz a disgrayse – we hads to wait 20 minits for her finger to stop bleedin’ before she put our dinna down for us. Mummy Sue is ok, but she duzn’t kno how to prioriritise…..

After the vet hads given mummy Sue a lectchewer about how I musn’t chew me own foot, she put her nasty face on – ooooh noooooo, Iz had to wear me muzzle – mummy Sue sed it makes me look like a proper racer; Ollie sed it made me look feroshus; me pals thought I lookd pafetic, so eventooally mummy Sue sed I didn’ts have to wear it durin’ the day if I promised not to lick me stitches – hur hur hur,

“O course mummy Sue” I sed but wen I wents to lick I gots her nasty face and her nasty voice “NO” she sed – uh, oh, can’t argue wif the nasty face…

But even tho I haszn’t licked at all for a hole week, promise, the vet sez me foot’s not right (wot woz confoozing, becoz it IS me right foots – huh, call himself a vet), so Iz got me bandij back wif sum hunny – nommmm hunny….

Mummys Sue is very sad that me foots isn’t betta but Iz ok wif it – afta all, I hazn’t gone boatin’ for a hole munf – aroooooo….

I woz very tired afta Anna's fetic but mummy Sue sed she cudn't sees any difference wif me normal snoozy self...

I woz very tired afta Anna’s fetic but mummy Sue sed she cudn’t sees any difference wif me normal snoozy self…

Oooh nooo - the "ring of shame" - mummy Sue is too soppy to use the "cone of shame" 0 she finks I'd break me neck - I'z dun me best to convince her and banged me head agenst the wall for 5 minits then she took the cone off - hur hur hur...

Oooh nooo – the “ring of shame” – mummy Sue is too soppy to use the “cone of shame” coz she finks I’d break me neck – I’z dun me best to convince her and banged me head agenst the wall for 5 minits then she took the cone off – hur hur hur…

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Dog Blog: Ty’s doings

Posted by indigodream on 28 July, 2013

Deer me pals

Fis is Ollie licking a ice scream - Mummy Sue sed she didn't get pics of me eatin' a ice scream coz I swallered it hole before the camer cud focus - cheeks...

Fis is Ollie licking a i-scream – Mummy Sue sed she didn’t get pics of me eatin’ a i-scream coz I swallered it hole before the camera cud focus – cheeks…

The wevver haz bin too hot for houndies, so we’s bin havin i-screams, wot I thought sounded a bit scary but wot is delishus and makes me slobber, wot is good for waterin’ plants – cept mummy Sue sez her foot is not a plant and duzn’t need any slobber….

Now at home we only gets leftova i-screams, but sumtimes wen we’s out we gets a hole cone an sumtimes we gets a hole mini-magnum wif wite chocklit, wot is safe for houndies – cept don’t tell the vet coz he sez we shud just have kibble and he sez mad fings like “put your leftovas in the bin not in the dog” – my vet iz no fun at all.

Anyhoo, I luffs i-screams an’ one day it woz soooo hot that Richard gave me a hole mini-magnum. Now Is eats i-screams like a propa hound, like “down in one” – cept that mummy Sue dun yellin “where’s the i-scream stick gone” – uh oh, Richard woz in BIG trubble coz he let go of the stick an I swallered it hole. Mummy Sue woz in a panic but the emergency vet just laffed down the phone an sed I wuds probably just digest it; or maybe it wuds come out the uvva end, you know….

Mummy Sue woz wonderin’ wether the BBC wud like to do a poo-watch programme – wuds be fascinatin’…

Anyhoo, I finks I dun digestin’ the stick coz I woz fine and me tummy know that it woz cuvvered in i-scream so gobbled it all up. I thought that mummy Sue wud lurn from fis and just give me i-scream wif sticks coz me digestshun can cope, but she’s gon sooper-careful now and duzn’t let me swaller the stick, wot is very borin’..

But it duzn’t matter, coz I can still gobble i-scream cones an’ we wents to a houndie party where they did “houndie 99s”, wot is like a hooman 99 ‘cept with a sosidj intead of a flake. Persnally, I cuds have qwite fancied a flake but pipple say we’z not sposed to have choklit cept in hexeptional wotsits, like wen they leaves a bit right there on the table wif me name on it. I founds that if I moves the cone so the pointy end is in me mouf, I can swaller one hole – Iz so clever…

Mummy Sue just sighs – “why can’t you be more like Ollie” she sez, but he just licks his i-screams like a gurl – huh!

You iz soooooo slooooow Ollie..

You iz soooooo slooooow Ollie..

Ollieeee - can I haffs your cone? Yous nevea gonna finish it at fis rate...

Ollieeee – can I haffs your cone? Yous nevea gonna finish it at fis rate…

Haffs you not finishid yets????

Haffs you not finishid yets????

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OLLIEEEE?!?!

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A 60 or more mile day ….

Posted by indigodream on 18 July, 2013

Note: I’m sorry but I just haven’t got time to sort out the 415 photos that they took during the convoy so they’re all here on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sue.cook.507/media_set?set=a.10201644528861948.1073741832.1440854080&type=3

Friday 5th July

Yes, you guessed it! The 60 mile day was our little jaunt on the tideway on Saturday, but first Sue had a speaking part….

We had agreed to be tail-end Charlie on a cruise for the St Pancras Cruising Club. They had been asked to take a party from the Russell Newbury Club out for a little cruise and SPCC Commodore, Andrew Phasey was happy, as always, to oblige.

We were really glad to play a small part in this, as these cruises are really important. Not so long ago, there were discussions as to whether narrowboats should be allowed on the tideway. A recent narrowboat sinking (Darwin in action) and a recent narrowboat stuck on a buoy (more Darwin in action) could easily have lead to drastic action by the PLA; but the professional nature of the SPCC Cruises have done much for the reputation of narrowboaters – they have set a fantastically good example and won considerable praise from the PLA.

There is a typical pattern to an SPCC Cruise –ย  they start with a 7pm briefing the evening before followed by supper all in the Cruising Association. Andrew Phasey gives a full and detailed briefing, sometimes there is a new joke to keep us awake and then Limehouse Lock Keeper Jeremy gives a short presentation on how to use the lock. Sadly Jeremy was not available on the Friday – he was talking elsewhere – so Sue agreed to be Jeremy for the evening!

Saturday 6th July

Sue had to be home to look after the greyhounds – this was going to be a massive day, far too long for them, and in any case, they need a bit of recuperation at the moment, how unusual! This meant that crew had to be drafted in – ace tideway talent Sarah & Andy appeared in the small wee hours;ย  it was cruel when the alarm went off at 4:40am and we got underway just after 5am!!

We were to be the last locking, escorting two boats down to the barrier. The lock entry was smooth and efficient, even though boats were all different lengths. There is always an “ooh ah” moment as the gates at Limehouse simply open; there are no paddles, so you see several foot of drop down to the tideway and you just need to hope that the duty Lockkeeper does not get distracted and open the gates too quickly!

Don’t worry folks, the Lockies at Limehouse look after all boaters very well.

We gave London VTS a quick call toย  to tell them that we were underway. As we approached the end of the lock cut, we gave a big blast of the horn (for the one in a million possibility that a fast mover outside would hear us) and we inched out onto the tideway. We had an “all clear” from the front crew and took a sharp left turn (towards Belgium!), staying on the wrong side of the river until we could see enough round the bend to cross the navigation safely. The two RN boats seemed to struggle a bit with the crossing, but they got safely across and formed up into a very neat line behind us.

We were having a very gentle cruise at 1100 rpm; I lasted at least 5 minutes before ringing the boat behind to ask how he felt about a bit more speed! Sadly he was doing about as much as he dared, so Sarah took over helming so that I would not fret at the slow pace. But there was nothing to fret about, we were probably doing 5 or 6 mph anyway, thanks to the tide. It was amazingly calm; seeing Canary Wharf light up as the sun rose was great. There was no cruise ship at Greenwich but the upstream buoy seems to have been fitted with stronger magnets to attract narrowboats; none of our team hit it but the last boat did get a bit close ….

Commercial boats have to seek permission to cross through the barrier at Blackwall point, just as they pass the dome. But there was no point in our doing that – the convoy was moving so sedately that would have been a couple of shift changes before we reached the barrier. So we called VTS for permission when we had the barrier in sight. We obediently took Charlie span, had a little dance with the Woolwich ferries, went past the entrance to the Royal Docks, past Barking Creek then spent 5 minutes crossing the river (yes it is bleeding wide at this point). We stemmed the last of the tide at Margaret Ness with just enough time for breakfast – a nice simple dish of everything I could find in the fridge, fired and baked and stuffed between two slabs of bread.

Andrew Phasey has some little floats that he dangles from his boat; if a passing shark does not eat them, they serve as his high-tech “state of the tide” indicator. As the tide turned he started moving for a slow bobble back upstream all the way to Teddington. We passed back through the barrier at 8:30am and back past Limehouse at 9:30am, at which point Andrew asked whether anyone had had enough, but of course, the best bit was still to come…..

We passed an early sunbather on the foreshore, went through the correct span of Tower Bridge and through a millpond-like Pool of London – the trip boats had not really started to churn up the water at this stage. There are too many sights to list, but we did have a first on this trip – a transit through Richmond Lock. The Richmond half-tide barriers don’t open until near to high tide; on previous excursions we’ve stemmed the tide and watched the barriers come up. Richmond lock was an interesting experience – plenty big enough to hold the whole convoy, though we weren’t allowed to move until the Lockkeeper collected the ยฃ5 locking fee from each boat, using a little fishing net to pick up the fee.

Richmond lock does take some time, so all-in-all this was probably our slowest transit ever(!) – we got to Teddington around 1:30pm, but what a fantastic way to go through Central London.

We said “goodbye” to the convoy at Teddington Lock and tied up below the lock. There was an hour’s wait for the tide to turn, then we had a leisurely passage back to London at 1500rpm. nb Doris Katia also made the transit back to Limehouse as well, but they had an even more leisurely trip down. We were back in the Pool of London just after 4pm, threading our way between trip boats on our left, trip boats on our right, behind us, in front of us, overtaking us or us overtaking them. It was getting seriously bumpy!

There is always a patch or two of lumpy water downstream of Tower Bridge, we think they occur where the river is shallower over tunnels. Of course, it was in one of those lumpy bits where we got overtaken by 5 or 6 speed merchants. The usual wisdom when being overtaken is to turn away from the wash so that it hits you almost end on; that worked really well for the first one, still plenty of room for the second one, ohh by the third I needed to start thinking about the river wall coming up at 8 mph…. even I though that bit was rough!

We had to wait an age for a big enough gap in the traffic so that we could cross the river in order to enter Limehouse lock. In the end we made a nice smooth turn at speed, as we were being a bit cheeky ahead of a trip boat; we then absolutely nailed the entry into Limehouse just after 5pm. Where is the audience when you want one?

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Boat Blog: To Barking without the barkers…

Posted by indigodream on 3 July, 2013

Saturday 22nd June

Limehouse Cut - there's been a lot of regeneration here - but there are still a few derelict buildings yet to be developed..

Limehouse Cut – there’s been a lot of regeneration here – but there are still a few derelict buildings yet to be developed..

Oh dear, that’s a terrible title – we didn’t quite make it as far as Barking by boat and the hounds rarely bark!

Every year, the St Pancras Cruising Club go on a pilgrimage to the moorings on the Barking Creek/River Roding. It’s always a great event and visiting boats are given an amazingly warm welcome. The moorings have changed management since our last visit, and we had a request for a “dog free” cruise. This wasn’t a problem as we hadn’t intended to take the greyhounds anyway – it’s such an assault course getting them from boat to shore over the huge barges moored there.

So on Friday I dropped the dogs off with Sarah in Suffolk – it was time for Miffy to go home after a happy 3 week holiday – I will miss her little face and funny ways! I got spectacularly lost on the way back, and missed the cruise briefing. However, Richard was there to represent Indigo Dream and I did arrive in time for the post-briefing food and festivities at the Cruising Association.

Much as we love the hounds, it was a novelty to have a night without them – not that we slept any better – it was a windy night and our centre rope creaked and groaned until Richard got up in the wee small hours and swapped it for a less stretchy version which wasn’t quite so noisy. We got a bit of sleep, but at 5am we were woken by torrential rain beating the roof – this did not bode well for Saturday’s cruise!

Luckily, the tides were kind to us on and we didn’t have an early start (especially with no hounds to walk). By the time we got up, the rain had stopped but the clouds were racing across the sky at an alarming rate! We welcomed Simon Judge from nb Scholar Gypsy at 9.30am and had a gentle bimble along Limehouse Cut to Bow Locks. The conditions for our cruise were marginal – we had our VHS tuned to Channel 14, so we eavesdropped on nb Doris Katia getting regular updates on the wind speed at the Thames Barrier. By the time we’d assembled at Bow Locks, conditions were marginal, with winds gusting up to 18 mph. We decided, as a convoy, to cruise down to Bow Creek Mouth then make a final decision when we’d seen what the big river looked like.

We were punching the tide down Bow Creek – the tide comes in quietly but quickly – we were in the last locking; the first boats had to drop several feet onto the river – by the time we locked out, the drop was a matter of inches. We headed downstream at a pace – we needed to catch up with the rest of the convoy! We had a good passage downstream – I took the helm for a change; it was a refreshing morning to be out on deck enjoying theย  intermittent sunshine.

Bow Locks - not the shoal to the right of the picture - it would be easy to go aground there near low tide...

Bow Locks – note the shoal to the right of the picture – it would be easy to go aground there near low tide…

We had almost caught up with the convoy when we heard to latest wind forecast – 26mph with gusts up to 32mph – the convoy was a no-go. We caught up with the other boats at Bow Creek mouth, had a quick look at the moody Thames, then turned back towards Bow Locks. The tide was still coming in at this point so we flew back upriver. It made a nice change not to worry about whether there would be enough water for us to get back through the lock – we’ve often cruised up Bow Creek on an ebbing tide and the water drains quickly, as if some vast plug had been pulled!

We were soon back in Limehouse – the plan was now for us all to go to Barking by public transport, well, by car in our case! We got to the Barking Creek moorings by 4pm and enjoyed a tremendous barbecue which the generous residents had laid on for us. As well as building relationships between the two boating groups, I got the impression that the barbecue is good opportunity for the residents to get to know each other as well. There are a lot of residents – it feels as if the moorings have been extended since my last visit (which was in 2010, though Richard came here last year). There was vast regret that we hadn’t been able to bring our boats but it did give us an opportunity to have a nose around a MAGNIFICENT barge, whose owner had kindly let us use their facilities. The boats here are on a different scale – there is one split into four flats; the one we visited had more floor area than our house!

Although it stayed dry, it was a bit chilly, and by 7pm we were ready to get back to our boats for a warm-up. We all trooped back to Limehouse, and after a brief siesta, congregated in the Grapes for the next part of the festivities. We sat on the very chilly outside deck, watching the river traffic – the tide was just starting to come in, restricting the width of the navigation for the many trip/party boats plying their trade. We witnessed some very bad manners and inconsiderate driving, all in the comfortable knowledge that our little boats were tied up safely in the marina!

By the time we got back to the boat we were almost numb with weariness and had a very good night’s sleep – undisturbed by creaky ropes or dogs!

nb Doris Katia showing the correct angle for exiting Bow Locks near low tide...

nb Doris Katia showing the correct angle for exiting Bow Locks near low tide…ย  and yes you can just make out the impressive tidal monitor just off the waters edge under the tree looking a bit like, well, a washing machine carcase

It was disappointing not to get down to Barking, but I’m glad that the convoy didn’t risk the winds. After all, if we had made it to Barking safely, we’d have now been worrying about how to get back and whether we’d be stuck there until the weather improved.

We have tideway adventures planned for almost every weekend in July, as we’re going to help out with some of SPCC’s convoys – if you’re in the area for the IWA National and fancy a trip on the big river then do get in touch – either via a comment on the blog or go direct to the SPCC website. The convoys are a great opportunity to get to know the river and, as the aborted Barking Creek cruise proved, it’s always “safety first”.

Today’s Trivia:

I was very curious about a “lightbulb” sculpture on Trinity Buoy Wharf. As often happens, I didn’t find out much about the sculpture, but I did find out more about Trinity Buoy Wharf. For us, the lightships have always been an important “landmark” (or river equivalent) – the red ship is a distinctive marker for Bow Creek Mouth. Being such a strategic point, I shouldn’t have been surprised that the wharf has a long history – the “Corporation of Trinity House” was granted a royal charter in 1514, but the oldest surviving structure is the river wall, built in 1852. The wharf became famous for supplying and maintaining navigation buoys and lightships. Sadly, this industry closed in 1988. However, the site has been reincarnated as a centre for the arts and creative industries. There is a comprehensive website here. We’re a bit lax when it comes to visiting shore-based attractions, and we’re definitely not into the arts, but I reckon that Trinity buoy Wharf might be worth a visit….

Dog Update:

Ollie is still very sore with his back and various pulled muscles and Ty has had to have one of his toes amputated. He broke the toe in January and the vet had hoped it would heal, but it kept getting infected and causing him pain so the best long-term solution was to amputate. This means that I won’t be cruising for a few weeks until he’s fully healed and out of bandages – having said that, he is doing very well and isn’t being half the drama queen that I expected ๐Ÿ™‚

However, Indigo Dream will be out on an epic convoy to the Thames Barrier then up to Teddington on Saturday July 6th – it’s a dawn cruise so should be quite magical. After seeing the convoy safely to Teddington, Richard, with crew Sarah, Andy and their boating hounds, will turn round and make the return trip to Limehouse! With a 5am start on Saturday morning, I’m not sure how the logistics of taking on extra crew would work, but if there are any experienced boaters out there who fancy the trip then get in touch ๐Ÿ™‚

Photoblog:

Always happy to cruise - Andrew and Frances' calm and positive attitude is what makes these convoys such fun!

Always happy to cruise – Andrew and Frances’ calm and positive attitude is what makes these convoys such fun!

Changing our minds - turning around at Bow Creek mouth - I'm sure we'll be back!

Changing our minds – turning around at Bow Creek mouth – I’m sure we’ll be back!

nb Chance passing by Trinity Buoy Wharf - I've been trying to find out more about that "lightbulb" sculpture in the background...

nb Chance passing by Trinity Buoy Wharf – I’ve been trying to find out more about that “lightbulb” sculpture in the background…

nb Chance - at least they got as far as the O2 - I hope that they will get to the Barrier this month - it's one of their ambitions for their stay in London.

nb Chance – at least they got as far as the O2 – I hope that they will get to the Barrier this month – it’s one of their ambitions for their stay in London.

With the tide and wind running out way, we flew back up Bow Creek

With the tide and wind running out way, we flew back up Bow Creek

New wharf on Bow Creek - all for Crossrail!

New wharf on Bow Creek – all for Crossrail!

Tunnel sections for Crossrail - ready to be transported to site by barge - good to see the river being used in this way...

Tunnel segments for Crossrail –ย  transported to the site by barge from Chatham – good to see the river being used in this way…

This bridge pier looks more decrepit every time we pass by - they are obviously working hard to keep the bridge standing.

This bridge pier looks more decrepit every time we pass by – they are obviously working hard to keep the bridge standing.

Wonderful detail on this old bridge pier (the bridge itself is long gone) - finding out more about this bridge will be the "today's trivia" the next time I cruise this way.

Wonderful detail on this old bridge pier (the bridge itself is long gone) – finding out more about this bridge will be the “today’s trivia” the next time I cruise this way.

Anthony Gormley's tideway sculpture looking at the evening's unusually big moon - http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23013393

Anthony Gormley’s tideway sculpture looking at the evening’s unusually big moon – http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23013393

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Boat Blog: Rewind: Gravesend Adventure – safely back to Limehouse :-)

Posted by indigodream on 1 July, 2013

Sunday 2nd June

There's always one scary photo!  But Narrowboats are made to float and Flora Dora made it safely back to Limehouse :-)

There’s always one scary photo! But narrowboats are made to float and Flora Dora made it safely back to Limehouse ๐Ÿ™‚

So, we’d proved that narrowboats can safely navigate down to Gravesend; but would we get home to tell the tale? ๐Ÿ™‚

By the time we eventually got up around 8.30am-ish, I was a bit fed up with being bumped around on the mooring. I heartily wished that the tide would turn early so that we could leave straight away. But we weren’t due to leave Gravesend until 2.30pm so I just had to adjust my attitude – Sarah helped this process by making me coffee until I cheered up ๐Ÿ™‚ The rest of the crew were in very good spirits, especially Richard, who was up and about and walking the dogs while everyone else was still in their pyjamas. Luckily the ferry doesn’t run on Sundays so we didn’t need to do any elaborate manoeuvres today, though it was still a 2-man job to lift the hounds safely to/from the pontoon.

By the time he came back, the deckchairs were out and we were settled in for a morning of “watching the world go by” – there were still plenty of big ships on the move and, by now, Andy had linked to a “ship-spotter” app so we knew a bit more about the passing traffic. But Richard was full of beans, and he’d forgotten to bring the novel that he’s currently reading, so he went off on the group walk run by the Thames and Medway Canal Association. He took Archie hound with him, and, when one of the other boats volunteered to be a dog handler, Herbie hound joined them as well. The walk was estimated to be around 4 miles – too far for Bertie, who has an old racing injury, and for Ollie, who is just too old; Henry Beanz could have gone but he treated the invitation with the contempt he felt it deserved and snoozed on the sofa instead.

It was a glorious morning to be on the water and the hours passed quickly. There are some services on the pontoon – a handy waterpoint and a rubbish skip, less handily locked away by the ferry. However, the skip was close to the fence and some devious manoeuvres with a broom handle meant that I managed to dispose of the many empty wine bottles that had mysteriously landed in our deck bin yesterday ๐Ÿ˜€

Richard and the hounds were out for much longer than I expected – we found out later that he’d let Herbie have an off-lead run on the empty marshes and Herbie had taken full advantage of it and ran for miles! He did come back eventually, but the unaccustomed exercise finished Herbie off – he came on board, ran straight to his favourite bed and stayed there for the rest of the day!

What a view! One day we'll cruise down there :-)

What a view! One day we’ll cruise down there ๐Ÿ™‚

We’d done a food inventory and were surprised to find that we’d run low of a few items, so Richard went and foraged for some Danish pastries and the like, while I prepared lunch. We’d just finished munching our sausage sandwiches when the first of today’s guest arrived – the “Lucky Ducks” Amy and James – they now own, and are restoring, a fine historic “severner” called Willow but I think they’ve resigned themselves to forever being known as “the lucky ducks” ๐Ÿ™‚ We were joined soon after by the last of our crew, Dave and Wendy from nb Brenda, who came with us on last year’s Barking Creek adventure.

We were moored close to Tug Major so we overheard their conversation with the PLA – the discussion was whether the convoy could cross the river at Gravesend without getting in the way of any big ships – the river is wide and they reckoned it would take the convoy around half an hour to cross over! The other option was for the convoy to proceed upstream on the wrong side of the river i.e. the left, then cross after we’d passed the docks at Tilbury. We got the answer during the pre-cruise briefing at 2pm – there would be time for us to cross the tideway but not in line – we’d all cross together then form a line once we were all across. At 2.30pm we cast off and were on our way home.

Sarah took the helm while I made tea – apart from acting as lookouts, the crew’s other important function is to act as moving ballast to adjust the boat’s trim. As we crossed the tideway, the kettle started sliding along the hob – I yelled at the crew to MOVE – they didn’t and the boat heeled over a little further – luckily Richard came in from the bow at that point and I sent him to yell at the crew. They hastened to the other side of the boat and we levelled off nicely!

With hot drinks in hand, we could settle to enjoy the cruise back – trying to notice more than we had on the way down! But we still didn’t see the seal, despite nb Puffin yelling at us that it was just off our starboard side – maybe next time….

This time we were able to appreciate the great scale of Tilbury Docks – the locks gates might be the widest we’ve seen yet; the ships inside the docks were so large they seemed like part of the infrastructure. A friend, who’s an expert in shipping, told us that one gargantuan car transporter could carry 6,500 cars! The docks look great on Google…..

The weather was glorious and the water was calm – we did encounter some large ships, but Indigo Dream coped with any wash sent her way, especially while in the capable hands of James, who helmed with aplomb. Although our trim could have coped, the crew neatly divided themselves between the front and back decks; there’s a great view from the front but it is a bit draughty and there’s always the risk of a drenching if it gets choppy. Nonetheless, the hardy bow crew seemed to enjoy the experience!

We were cruising upstream on the rising tide so it didn’t seem to take very long to get back, even though we had to negotiate the extra loop around the Isle of Dogs to get back to Limehouse Lock. Having warned everyone that it would be bumpy around the Isle of Dogs, it turned out to be the calmest passage we’ve ever had! This meant that we could enjoy the sight of cruise ship Columbus 2, moored on the famous buoys at Greenwich; she’d passed us yesterday when we were moored at Gravesend.

There was some highly entertaining chatter on the VHF today (which I can’t pass on because it’s meant to be confidential), but if you’ve been wondering whether to get a VHF radio for tideway cruises then do – you’re allowed to listen even if you don’t have an operator’s licence – you get useful river information and sometimes it’s fun!

We stemmed the tide outside Limehouse but we didn’t have a long wait – we were soon locking in and our epic trip was over. It had been an overwhelmingly positive experience and certainly one we’d be happy to repeat – especially if there’s the prospect of going a little further – say to Southend Pier or the Medway ๐Ÿ™‚

We got back to our berth, said goodbye to James, Amy, Dave and Wendy then packed the boat while Sarah and Andy kindly took Ollie for a walk with the rest of the pack. Unfortunately Sarah reported that Ollie was quite poorly – he does have a chronic back but he wasn’t walking well, in fact, he was reluctant to walk at all. Luckily I had plenty of Ollie’s anti-inflammatories and painkillers on board so I dosed him up and left him on board to rest while I joined Richard and the remaining convoy veterans for a quick drink at the Cruising Association. We stayed long enough to be recruited for some more tideway adventures in June and July then we made haste for home….

This historic cruise terminal is a grade II listed building - have a look at their website - it's amazing! http://londoncruiseterminal.com/ This is who you contact if you want a river mooring for your super-yacht - http://www.pla.co.uk/display_fixedpage.cfm/id/2732/site/port%20of%20london

This historic cruise terminal is subject of today’s trivia – it’s far more interesting than I first thought!

Today’s Trivia

There’s so much to say about the historic cruise terminal that it really deserves its own little section. The terminal is a Grade II listed building, designed by Edwin Cooper in 1924. The site used to include a landing stage and railway stationย  – both are apparently derelict, but there are big plans for their regeneration here. The “Big Ocean Project” is being promoted as “Britain’s Ellis Island” – welcoming big ships from around the world – I must admit, looking at their Facebook page, I lack their grand vision but isn’t it wonderful that someone DOES have that ambition. The cruise terminal doesn’t look like a luxury destination, but the interior, according to their website, looks quite palatial. And finally, the Port of London Authority has details of how to arrange mooring for your cruise ship or super-yacht – you might find the contact details useful!

Dog Update:

Ollie is fine, though an x-ray revealed some distortion of his lower lumbar vertebrae (probably old injury) and he has managed to pull several muscles – probably in an illicit chase after Bertie, who is huge and young – Ollie needs to remember that he is tiny and old! Ollie is now having a pile of medicines to relax his muscles and ease the pain, as well as an intensive course of houndie physiotherapy. The physiotherapy makes a huge difference to Ollie’s mobility but it costs so much it makes me cry ๐Ÿ™‚ In other news, Ty enjoyed his holiday being cuddled by Sarah’s mum – the Gravesend trip would have done his head in – I’m so glad that we left him behind.

Photoblog:

We took over a 100 photos on the way back – mainly of other boats in the convoy – the blog’s not the best place to display them all so they’re in a facebook album – click here (let me know if you can’t access the file – I’m a bit inept with Facebook!).

Note: Another boating blogger, Simon Judge, was day crew on nb Puffin for the Gravesend trip and took some great photos – click here for his blog and photo album.

Car transporter "Morning Cornet" - it can carry 6,500 cars!

Car transporter “Morning Cornet” – it can carry 6,500 cars!

I love the contract between the narrowboats and the big ships that normally ply their trade here - it's much nicer to pass them when they're moored up though!

I love the contract between the narrowboats and the big ships that normally ply their trade here – it’s much nicer to pass them when they’re moored up though!

I'm not sure is this jetty is used any more  but it's a grand sight...

I’m not sure is this jetty is used any more but it’s a grand sight…

The lock into Tilbury Docks - we've been through a few big locks but that looks pretty large  - from here :-) The docks look great on Google - https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&q=tilbury&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x47d8b618004a319b:0x3acd4e307ba387d4,Tilbury,+Thurrock&gl=uk&ei=XZjQUemzKsiw4QSn_IGoCA&ved=0CI8BELYD

The lock into Tilbury Docks – we’ve been through a few big locks but that looks pretty large to us!

The cranes loading/unloading the containers were zipping along surprisingly quickly, as if the containers weighed no more than a lego brick!

The cranes loading/unloading the containers were zipping along surprisingly quickly, as if the containers weighed no more than a lego brick!

I've worked out that this is a grain wharf - there are at least three flour mills on this site...

I’ve worked out that this is a grain wharf – there are at least three flour mills on this site…

Thurrock Yacht Club is an incongruous sight amongst the giant wharves that surround it..

Thurrock Yacht Club is an incongruous sight amongst the giant wharves that surround it..

What I though was a petrochemical refinery is, in fact, a large manufacturing/distribution centre for Procter and Gamble – not too sure what they manufacture here though

This substantial wharf (with crane, road access and conveyor belt) serves a chemical manufacturing site run by Industrial Chemicals Ltd - http://www.icgl.co.uk/environmental-policy.html

This substantial wharf (with crane, road access and conveyor belt) serves a chemical manufacturing site run by Industrial Chemicals Ltd – http://www.icgl.co.uk/environmental-policy.html

Round the buoy - there's quite a shoal here...

Round the buoy – there’s quite a shoal here…

These wharves just downstream of the bridge serve the oil storage depot...

These wharves just downstream of the bridge serve the oil storage depot…

That's such a great view..

That’s such a great view..

What a great trip!

What a great trip!

The crew of nb Lotus No 10 - love the big smiles - it is such a special trip :-)

The crew of nb Lotus No 10 – love the big smiles – it is such a special trip ๐Ÿ™‚

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