This is a big blog for a big weekend. On Saturday, bright and early at 07:00 nineteen narrow boats were let out of Limehouse lock and onto a a very calm and considerate River Thames. We were given the honour (for the first time) of leading six of the ‘novice’ boats during the day’s cruise – a responsibility we hoped we aspired to!
Heading down river on the outgoing tide we soon passed the first of many well known London sights – the Cutty Sark with the domed entrance to the Greenwich pedestrian tunnel to the right.
The magnificent buildings of Greenwich College.
Just past the O2 Arena is the Emirates Skytrain, a pile of nails and one of the City Clippers just about to cast off and do it’s best to create a great big wash for us to enjoy ………..
…….. there it goes!
On the mirror calm waters of the early morning we passed through the Thames barrier ……
…….. and then on to encounter the Woolwich ferry.
Downstream, as the river got wider the freedom and joy of calm open water is something difficult to explain.
At the briefing the evening before, all boat owners were warned of the dangers of the giant yellow buoys, with their powerful electro magnets, which attract narrow boats with alarming ease (joke!). However, sometimes it doesn’t register! The force of the outgoing tide can easily broadside a boat into the buoys – and they got three of us in total on Saturday! (No – we weren’t one of them)
Getting as far as Margaretness, we turned and stemmed the last of the ebb tide before taking the incoming tide back up through the city. This 30 minutes interlude, on tick over, is perfect for preparing bacon sandwiches for breakfast.
Heading back up stream we were inspected by the Police and all seemed to be in order.
One happy-chappie sitting on the well deck while he can (there are some rough waters ahead!)
Olly, another happy-chappie, as we approach the Thames Barrier again.
Olly takes the strain as we pass the O2 Arena and head towards the city.
What a sight - nineteen narrow boats, are they ready for us!
Heavier waters as we get into the busy area around the Pool of London.
The RNLI start an emergency dash right past our stern.
How many buses can you get on a bridge?
Choppy waters towards the Palace of Westminster.
Small though we might seem on such a big river we were spotted, by many bystanders, as something a bit different.
Vauxhall bridge has the most wonderful and huge bronze statues which only the river users can ever see properly.
Some situations require fortitude! It’s ok at this level but not much more!
James and Olly’s favourite (Albert) Bridge. A joy of cast iron architectural design.
After the Albert Bridge the waters calm down and we can get on the with next exciting part of the day.
Two helicopters landed at the city pad while we cruised past – an impressive sight.
Further up towards Richmond Olly’s sister Fleur, and partner Gren joined us on their boat and escorted us to our final destination ……..
……… which was Teddington. Nineteen boats in the big lock!
We had a few nibbles and a drink on board Fleur and Gren’s boat before having a meal in the local pub with our cruise leader Andrew and his wife Frances. A great end to a really great day. Nine hours of unique excitement – thanks go again to Andrew and Frances for their superb organisation.
On Sunday we walked the three miles into Richmond from Teddington Lock where, by chance, we caught up with Doug’s school friend Caroline and her husband Geoff …………
……. and joined them in the grounds of their lovely home on the banks of the river.
We had Champagne and a catch up chat before leaving …….
……. and having to wade through the floods caused by the exceptionally high tide!
We had quite a time getting to dry land! ……….
…….. and back to the town centre where we decided to have dinner at the floating restaurant. Even that was fraught with some difficulty as we negotiated the high water again!
Still, it was all worth it as the meal in the evening sunshine afloat on the receding tide was a wonderful way to end a wonderful weekend.