Sailing up The Thames, Sailing around Britain

Date posted: 8 May 2014

Day 17, 7th of May. Last night we carefully looked at a passage plan for today, the Almanac gives specific instructions about where you should be at any given time in the marked passage as you go up the Thames.

We left our buoy where we spent a very comfortable night and headed off about 9am. As we were two hours off high tide we cut straight across the Sheerness Middle Sands, where I photographed the ‘outstanding ‘ wreck of yesterday! Glancing to our right we can see ( I’m writing this as we go along today), all the large ships in the Thames Channel, and I’m feeling rather anxious being only a country girl!


dwarfed by shipsThe wind is on our nose, so we have chickened out of tacking up the channel, in view of the large ships all around us, the last thing I want today is the five blasts of a horn, which basically means, ‘get out of our way you blithering idiots!’  It’s quite a long way to go today 45nm and Limehouse informed us last night that their swing bridge is not operational. So we hastily did a ring round of other marinas to see if anyone had room for us. So although we are heading up towards the center of London, we currently have no idea where we will be staying.

10.30am and we have just seen a seal on Blyth sands, we were moving close to the shallow sands, and suddenly what appeared to be a log on our port side, sat up and waddled  along the sands a bit, would you believe it our first seal and it was seen in the Thames.


This has been my biggest surprise today the amount of seals I’ve seen.

As advised by the Almanac we are staying to the port side of the channel in this stretch by Deadmans  Point, but it does seem strange to have the ships passing us on our starboard side, and my goodness are they big.


Lots of these tugs about

The marina situation remains tricky, Limehouse has just phoned us to say the pin has come out of the gate so they are definitely out of action, St Katherine’s dock have a similar problem so they are also out of the equation.  Galleons can’t take us as they are already full due to the anticipated low (rough weather).

After another ring around, South Dock have found room for us as long as we arrive between five and seven this evening, all I can say is thank goodness for that!

It’s interesting to see the changing faces of the Thames, the industrilisation, the mud flats, old quays, wind farms, green fields and flats



Tilbury Docks

massive cranes off Tilbury docks



The Grapes PH

This is The Grapes P.H. I frquented this when i worked in Limehouse, a lifetime ago, it hasn’t changed.

It’s now 12.38 and we are feeling more relaxed so much so that we’ve put the sails out and against all sensible thought are sailing up the Thames,  the wind is on our starboard bow, we might even get a few tacks in!!

Tacks weren’t appropriate with the shipping that came zooming up behind and beside us, in fact we furled the sails back in and put the engine back on. It is always sensible to say within your comfort zone and the capabilities of your crew.



crazy madness, whatever were we thinking, pouring with rain and poor visability


Just before Tibury docks in Gravesend Reach, on the mud, we saw another three seals playing and another on its own further along the mud. We have also seen lots of Terns today, white birds with black heads and black tipped wings, our first Terns on this journey.

As we are reaching Gravesend, on the right hand side of the river are four wind turbines right on the dockside, they seem so out of place, coming from Cornwall I expect to see them in fields.


You’ll have to take my word for this. Here are the three seals!

Going under the Queen Elizabeth 2nd bridge it appears as though we are heading out into the countryside again.  We have Crayford on our port and Purfleet on our starboard and fields! But as we round the bend at Crayford Ness I can glimpse Canary Wharf and the Shard through the Wennington Marshes.

Now we are at Barking Reach we have to call up the Thames Barrier on Ch 14 and got clearance to pass through, from what we can work out we need to use the far right hand gate being only 10.5m. We have also just got our first glimpse of the London Dome, we are both really enjoying our adventure today.

Thames Barrier

The Thames Barrier



We went through the Thames barrier and then encountered  Greenwich with the magnificent old navel buildings, The Cutty Sark, the Gerkin building, and the Shard. We also heard on the radio that the Thames barrier is going to be closed over the weekend due to the anticipated bad weather; we got in just in time.


Greenwich which I missed as I was taking a booking!

Cutty Sark

Just a glimpse of the Cutty Sark as we motor past

City skyline

The city skyline

We arrived at the South Dock Marina on the appointed hour to be informed there wasn’t enough water over the sill to let us enter, ( it’s neaps at the moment). So with four other vessels we motored about a bit waiting for entry through the lock. We were eventually called up to enter, what a horror I hit the wall on the starboard side. As I was entering I noticed the swirling current and wash right on the narrow entrance, what I should have done is, accelerated and  sped in under a large amount of power. But I took it carefully and the wash pushed me sideways, the entrance being so narrow that I hit the wall! The gatekeeper gleefully said, if you can get in here you can get in anywhere. The boat behind me observed what had happened to me and drove through at speed perfectly, a lesson learnt!

Whilst moving our boat slowly round outside we got shouting to another boat, exchanging where we were from and going to, as we moored in front of them, we stood on the pontoon chatting for a while and eventually as one does , we all ended up having a ‘sun downers’ together.

What a day, I was so relieved to have arrived here safely at South Dock Marina and can now look forward to a week catching up with family and friends.




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