London calling

Wednesday 28th August – River Roach to Queenborough

The day starts with a hazy sun and light wind as we leave the Roach and Crouch. Today we will navigate our way south across the Thames Estuary to Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent to meet our friend Janet Wragg who has volunteered for a second stint with us – she must be mad! The Thames Estuary is scattered with sand banks and shipping lanes so careful navigation is needed. Unusually (for us) we have set up a route on the GPS so that we can follow the buoys across the estuary like following a daisy chain.

The wreck of the Richard Montgomerie - a WW2 Liberty ship that sunk in the mouth of the River Medway next to the shipping lane full of explosives. It remains fully loaded with enough explosive power to demolish Queenborough, Sheerness and miles around. Bomb disposal experts fear to touch it in case it sets off an explosion so it is buoyed off and regularly inspected. Southend on Sea is on the opposite shore in this photo.

The wreck of the Richard Montgomerie – a WW2 Liberty ship that sunk in the mouth of the River Medway next to the shipping lane. The ship sank full of explosives. It remains fully loaded with enough explosive power to demolish Queenborough, Sheerness and miles around. Bomb disposal experts fear to touch it in case it sets off an explosion so it is buoyed off and regularly inspected. Southend on Sea is on the opposite shore in this photo.

We have to sail about 10 miles out of the Crouch to get round the huge Maplin Sands off Shoeburyness to the Whittaker Channel before turning south. In the event, we are able to sail to the Whittaker but then the wind falls away and the day becomes sunny, cloudless and windless so we motor most of the rest of the way in company with quite a few other boats. No doubt the Thames estuary can be a challenge but not today. We put “George” (the autohelm) to work and set to cleaning the boat.

Ray and Eileen, old boating friends of Janet, kindly bought her to meet us

Ray and Eileen, old boating friends of Janet, who kindly bought her to meet us

Queenborough is surrounded by industrial works but in fact it has a long history and association with marine matters. Francis Drake was apprenticed to a boat near here and later made the manning arrangements more economical whilst Lord Nelson took over his first commission here. There are several older historical buildings including the old town council house that are quite attractive.

Queenborough is surrounded by industrial works but in fact it has a long history and association with marine matters. Francis Drake was apprenticed to a boat near here and later made the manning arrangements more economical whilst Lord Nelson took over his first commission here. There are several older historical buildings including the old town council house that are quite attractive.

As we turn south we are surprised to hear an explosion and notice that the military range at Foulness has started live firing near where we anchored last night. Every so often there is a “crump” and a spectacular pillar of fire and smoke by the Maplin Sands at intervals during the day. It makes for a diversion.

As we near the Isle of Sheppey the wind sets in a little so we slowly sail into Queenborough where we moor up to the 24 hour pontoon just as Janet arrives – perfect timing! We enjoy a cup of tea with Janet and her friends Ray and Eileen as well as chatting to the local youths who are diving off the pontoon as youths will.

Janet was shown how to circumvent the turnstile leading onto the pontoon: the youths then went for a swim - youths will be youths! They showed an interest in Sundart so we gave them a glimpse of the boat. Despite Queenborough having moorings for many yachts, it was so far from their own experience and surprised them how boats such as Sundart are fitted out to be lived in - maybe it will light a glimmer of interest.

Janet was shown how to circumvent the turnstile leading onto the pontoon: the youths then went for a swim – youths will be youths! They showed an interest in Sundart so we gave them a glimpse of the boat. Despite Queenborough having moorings for many yachts, it was so far from their own experience and surprised them how boats such as Sundart are fitted out to be lived in – maybe it will light a glimmer of interest.

At anchor in Stangate Creek just off the Medway - peace within a couple of miles from the industrial centre of Sheerness. The distant hills are the North Downs

At anchor in Stangate Creek just off the Medway – peace within a couple of miles from the industrial centre of Sheerness. The distant hills are the North Downs

Tea done and Janet settled in, we sail off up the Medway to Stangate Creek to anchor in peace and quiet (and at no charge) for the night.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       28.2 nm

Total miles to date:          2217.0 nm

Engine hours:                  5.0 hours

Total engine hours:          270.4 hours

Hours sailed:                   10.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           486.2 hours

Sheerness - an industrial complex at the mouth of the Medway. The port control is built on top of the old fort in the middle of this photo

Sheerness – an industrial complex at the mouth of the Medway. The port control is built on top of the old fort in the middle of this photo

London is staging a Festival of tall ships in the first week of September (after the departure of teh Clipper Race). Here one such ship is progressing along the Thames Estuary.

London is staging a Festival of tall ships in the first week of September (after the departure of the Clipper Race). Here one such ship is progressing along the Thames Estuary.

Thursday 29th  August – Stangate Creek to Limehouse Marina

The Thames is apparently full of sea life. We saw seals basking on the sands along the estuary. here two fishing boats are engaged in "pair trawling"

The Thames is apparently full of sea life. We saw seals basking on the sands along the Estuary. Here two fishing boats are engaged in “pair trawling”

The Thames remains a busy seaway but the commercial docks have long moved downstream from London to places such as Tilbury where the large modern ships can be handled. This is a ro-ro fery owned by the Belgium company Kobelfret [assing the oil installatins at Canvey island. We saw no significant British flagged merchant ships on our travels.

The Thames remains a busy seaway but the commercial docks have long moved downstream from London to places such as Tilbury where the large modern ships can be handled. This is a ro-ro ferry owned by the Belgium company Kobelfret passing the oil installations at Canvey island. We saw no significant British flagged merchant ships on our travels.

We up-anchor at 0900 and sail out into the Thames estuary. However, the wind is from the west so for most of the rest of the day we have to motor into the wind. It is a lovely day and although Janet and Yvonne have made this trip in the past it is a complete novelty for John. Initially the estuary is several miles wide and we can see Southend-on-Sea in the distance to the north with its long pier out into the estuary (claimed to be the longest in the country). As we motor along we see seals basking on the sands and two trawlers pair trawling – there is life in the Thames. We keep just out of the main channel as there are frequent shipping movements in and out of London.

There are some long established factories along the Thames, including the Tate and Lyle factory for processing cane sugar.

There are some long established factories along the Thames, including the Tate and Lyle factory for processing cane sugar.

The Queen Elizabeth II bridge carrying the M25 across the Thames at Dartford - nose to tail traffic. The bridge carries southbound traffic, northbound going through two tunnels. The bridge was financed through a PFI - who remembers the undertaking that the tolls would be abolished once the Dartford crossing was paid for?

The Queen Elizabeth II bridge carrying the M25 across the Thames at Dartford – nose to tail traffic. The bridge carries southbound traffic, northbound going through two tunnels. The bridge was financed through a PFI – who remembers the undertaking that the tolls would be abolished once the Dartford crossing was paid for?

The QE II bridge is a cabled stayed bridge - the suspension rods and slender white towers have a certain beauty and are reminiscent of a Barbara Hepworth sculpture on a huge scale. The bridge was the longest cabled stayed bridge in Europe when it was built in 1991

The QE II bridge is a cabled stayed bridge – the suspension rods and slender white towers have a certain beauty and are reminiscent of a Barbara Hepworth sculpture on a huge scale. The bridge was the longest cabled stayed bridge in Europe when it was built in 1991

We pass Canvey island (with its old oil terminals, some now defunct) then get a little sail down to Tilbury, where there are large active docks. We are asked by Thames Port Control to move over to let a ro-ro ferry manoeuver – everyone is very polite as is normal in maritime radio conversations. We had been keeping to the rules so all is well.

The Woolwich Free Ferry has a long history as a ferry service has operated here since the 14th Century. The modern version links the North and South Circular Roads.

The Woolwich Free Ferry has a long history as a ferry service has operated here since the 14th Century. The modern version links the North and South Circular Roads.

We chug on, passing Woolwich with its old Arsenal and free ferry. There are a number of Dutch square-riggers and tall ships moored here, presumably waiting to go up to London for the Festival of classic ships once the Clipper Race boats have departed next Sunday.

One of the Thames Barrier spans closed. The Barrier is the world's second largest moveable flood barrier (the largest is in Holland). It is located at New Charlton, where the chalk layer under the Thames is strong enough to support the structure. The concept of the rotating gates was devised by (Reginald) Charles Draper. In the 1950s, from his parents' house in Pellatt Grove, Wood Green, London, he constructed a working model. The Barrier only really became possible once all major shipping moved eastwards so that large ships no longer had to travel intothe Port of London to be discharged and loaded

One of the Thames Barrier spans closed. The Barrier is the world’s second largest moveable flood barrier (the largest is in Holland). It is located at New Charlton, where the chalk layer under the Thames is strong enough to support the structure. The concept of the rotating gates was devised by (Reginald) Charles Draper. In the 1950s, from his parents’ house in Pellatt Grove, Wood Green, London, he constructed a working model. The Barrier only really became possible once all major shipping moved eastwards so that large ships no longer had to travel into the Port of London to be discharged and loaded. The Canary Wharf  skyline looms beyond the barrier.

The Thames Barrier works by pivoting huge gates that normally rest on the river bed. This photo shows the end of once of these gates and the mechanism for moving it. The barrier is tested once a month during low tide and had been used to prevent real possibilities of flooding 119 times by 2010. It was also used to ensure there was plenty of water in the Thames with little flow for the Water Pagent to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee last year and to assist in the rescue after the Marchioness disaster.

The Thames Barrier works by pivoting huge gates that normally rest on the river bed. This photo shows the end of once of these gates and the mechanism for moving it. The barrier is tested once a month during low tide and had been used to prevent real possibilities of flooding 119 times by 2010. It was also used to ensure there was plenty of water in the Thames with little flow for the Water Pagent to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee last year and to assist in the rescue after the Marchioness disaster.

A little further west and we reach the Thames Barrier. All ships have to get permission to transit the barrier, which we duly do by contacting the London Port Control. It is all official but in a relaxed and well controlled way. The barrier is a tremendous piece of engineering and has proved its worth over the years.

A plane coming into land at City Airport. The planes came in very low over us - we had not realised how busy this airport in the middle of docklands is.

A plane coming into land at City Airport. The planes came in very low over us – we had not realised how busy this airport in the middle of docklands is.

A tall ship sails eastwards through the barrier as we motor in the opposite direction. A plane comes in low over us to land at City Airport. We are surprised how busy this airport is, given the flow of planes above us.

The London skyline opens up as we transit the Barrier and we are soon passing the O2 dome with its new cable car running high above the river between the north and south banks.

The O2 - formerly the Millenium Dome. Once regarded as a white elephant it is now a successful concert and event venue and was used for the Olympic Games. It is possible to walk over the top on the special walkway whilst a new cable car connects it to the north bank near Canary Wharf.

The O2 – formerly the Millenium Dome. Once regarded as a white elephant it is now a successful concert and event venue and was used for the Olympic Games. It is possible to walk over the top on the special walkway whilst a new cable car connects it to the north bank near Canary Wharf.

There is a walkway over the dome with plenty of customers making the climb in the bright sunshine. Here the river bends sharply south round the Isle of Dogs, best known now for the Canary Wharf development but with a great deal of other development using the old West India Docks as a central feature.

We are beginning to see the high speed catamaran ferries and other trip boats, many of which seem to move at great speed and send up a huge wakes that rocks us around.

The magnificent buildings at Greenwich with the observatory on the hill behind. This is the position of the meridian dividing east and west and the reference line for all terrestial navigation. There is an excellent museum in the observatory tracing the development of navigation and the chronometers by John Harrison that finally resolved the difficulties of navigating anywhere in the world.

The magnificent buildings at Greenwich with the observatory on the hill behind. This is the position of the meridian dividing east and west and the reference line for all terrestial navigation. There is an excellent museum in the observatory tracing the development of navigation and the chronometers by John Harrison that finally resolved the difficulties of navigating anywhere in the world.

The worst are the big RIBS that give tourists excitement as they speed along the river, weaving between craft and over their wakes. They all carry flashing yellow lights but they move so fast that we have to rely on them missing us, not the other way round. However, it is sunny and it is exciting coming into London this way for the first time.

The Cutty sark, now happily restored to her former glory after the disastrous fire. We saw where she was built earlier this trip at Dumbarton, now we have seen the end of the story.

The Cutty sark, now happily restored to her former glory after the disastrous fire. We saw where she was built earlier this trip at Dumbarton, now we have seen the end of the story.

We pass Greenwich with its wonderful buildings and the Cutty Sark. Soon we are round the other side of the Isle of Dogs and on the final straight. We are in good time so we carry on up to Tower Bridge and the iconic London skyline that is continuing to evolve. On cue, the Bridge opens to let a Thames barge through – just the job.

We call up Limehouse marina to book the lock into the basin. This also involves opening a swing bridge so there is plenty of interest.

The evolving skyline of London: on the left of Tower Bridge is the the newly completed "Shard", on the right the "Gerkin" with the "Cheesegrater" and "Walkie Talkie" under construction. After the recession London is bouncing back.

The evolving skyline of London: on the left of Tower Bridge is the newly completed “Shard”, on the right the “Gerkin” with the “Cheesegrater” and “Walkie Talkie” under construction. After the recession London is bouncing back.

We made it to London!

We made it to London!

London icons: Tower Bridge opening for a Thames barge

London icons: Tower Bridge opening for a Thames barge

There is an active Police presence on the Thames as it is the major artery through  the most sensitive parts of London. We were scrutinised during our trip along the Thames.

There is an active Police presence on the Thames as it is the major artery through the most sensitive parts of London. We were scrutinised during our trip along the Thames.

Thames barges and other lassic boats -- presumably getting ready for the Festival of Classic Sail due to be held here in early September

Thames barges and other classic boats — presumably getting ready for the Festival of Classic Sail due to be held here in early September

Many people live on houseboats on the Thames and adjacent docks including these ones just east of Tower Bridge. One wonders how comfortable they are in the day given the big wash from many of the trip boats and extreme RIB's giving tourists rides on this stretch of the river. We found it rougher here than out at sea!

Many people live on houseboats on the Thames and adjacent docks including these ones just east of Tower Bridge. One wonders how comfortable they are in the day given the big wash from many of the trip boats and extreme RIB’s giving tourists rides on this stretch of the river. We found it rougher here than out at sea!

In the Marina all is peaceful, with a mix of canal and sea going boats as this is the point where the Grand Union canal joins the Thames. It is a historic place that has been rejunevated by the investment that has been going on since the 1980’s and a good base for us over the next couple of days.

We make phone calls to friends we are going to meet tomorrow then cook supper on board. It’s been a long but good day.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       41.3 nm

Total miles to date:          2259.3 nm

Engine hours:                  9.4 hours (includes some motoring yesterday)

Total engine:                   279.8 hours

Hours sailed:                   8.5 Hours

Total hours sailed:           494.7 hours

Limehouse Marina was created out of the old Limehouse Basin in the 1980's after its closure in 1969 to commercial traffic after a century of use. It is now an area of tranquility and a great asset. In general, the regeneration of both sides of the River Thames iis remarkable and a tribute to the planners, businessmen and politicians who had the vision and drive to rescue a huge run down, deprived area of London. it is the best example of regeneration we have seen on our travels

Limehouse Marina was created out of the old Limehouse Basin in the 1980’s after its closure in 1969 to commercial traffic after a century of use. It is now an area of tranquility and a great asset. In general, the regeneration of both sides of the River Thames iis remarkable and a tribute to the planners, businessmen and politicians who had the vision and drive to rescue a huge run down, deprived area of London. it is the best example of regeneration we have seen on our travels

Friday 30th August – A day in London

We awake to a sunny morning with some coots swimming around us and a heron standing on the adjacent pontoon. We have arranged to meet friends at lunchtime and in the evening so it will be a sociable day. We breakfast and shower. John does some work whilst Janet and Yvonne do the laundry and catch up on the cleaning.

There was also an abundance of coots at Limehouse basin with their funny gutteral sqwawk

There was an abundance of coots at Limehouse basin with their funny gutteral sqwawk

There is plenty of wildlife around Limehouse Basin such as this heron

There must be fish in the Limehouse Basin and the canal as there were a number of larger marine birds including cormorants and this heron in residence.

Limehouse is an interesting and long settled area. It was settled as one of the few healthy areas alongside the river marshes. By Queen Elizabeth first’s time it was the centre of world trade and her explorer Sir Humphrey Gilbert lived here. From directly below the Grapes Inn Sir Walter Raleigh set sail on his third voyage to the New World. In later times Captain James Cook lived here whilst resident in London.

Vivienne and Mary Lavis visited us at Limehouse - and were delighted to find a boat named after them jointly!

Vivienne and Mary Lavis visited us at Limehouse – and were delighted to find a boat named after them jointly!

Limehouse Basin became the terminus of the Grand Union Canal, linking the Thames to the Midlands and the North. It is still possible to travel by canal boat from here via the Regent’s Canal to many parts of England. A hundred years ago it was a busy, thriving dock where it was almost possible to walk across the harbour by stepping from one boat to another. However, gradual decline set in, firstly from competition from the railways and then by the shift in shipping down the Thames as vessels became larger. It was closed in 1969 for shipping but was rejuvenated in the 1980’s as part of the docklands scheme.

The Grapes pub in Narrow Street. This has to be one of the narrowest pubs in the country as well as one of the oldest.

The Grapes pub in Narrow Street. This has to be one of the narrowest pubs in the country as well as one of the oldest.

Our friend Viv Lavis and her daughter Mary arrived at Limehouse DLR station at midday and after the usual confusion about which entrance to meet at are escorted by John to the boat. John and Viv have known each other since their teenage years in Sevenoaks. En route we find a boat named Vivienne Mary so the photois taken. We enjoy coffee on board and show our visitors round the boat before we set off for the Grapes Inn.

The back of the Grapes Inn (it is the narrowest building with the balconies)

The back of the Grapes Inn (it is the narrowest building with the balconies)

The Grapes is one of the traditional London waterside pubs that dates back about 500 years. It is located not far in Narrow Lane and, appropriately, is really narrow, being squeezed in between its neighbours with a veranda overlooking the Thames. It makes the most of being a favourite haunt of Charles Dickens with a picture and a collection of his works but it is a genuine, proper pub with good beer, good food and a nice ambience. We pass a pleasant long lunch catching up on news and watching the passing boats on the Thames.

In the Grapes pub, Narrow Lane looked over by Charles Dickens portrait. This was one of Dickens favourite haunts - he used it thinly disguised form in 'Our Mutual Friend'. There is a set of his works kept at the pub. This was our favourite of the pubs we visited in London - cosy, welcoming and a proper pub with good beer and food.

Canary Wharf in the sunshine

Canary Wharf in the afternoon sunshine as viewed from the Thames Path

Anthony Gormley figures get everywhere. This one is outside The Grapes Inn.

Anthony Gormley figures get everywhere. This one is outside The Grapes Inn.

Viv and Mary leave after three. We shop at the local Tesco Metro, then have a cup of tea and read in the afternoon sun.

Our friends Dick and Gill Shute arrive at 6. We have known them since John and Dick’s college days at Loughborough. They have come up from Burford to meet up with us.

Dick and Gil Shute visited us at Limehouse - Gil never normally sets foot in sailing boats so we were honoured!

Dick and Gil Shute visited us at Limehouse – Gil never normally sets foot in sailing boats so we were honoured!

The Prospect of Whitby - one of the oldest pubs in London and going from strength to strength now that the area has been rejuvenated

The Prospect of Whitby – one of the oldest pubs in London and going from strength to strength now that the area has been rejuvenated

We enjoy drinks on board before setting out to walk along the Thames Path along towards Tower Bridge. The walk is mainly along the Embankment. John can remember both this and the other side of the River as derelict, depressed areas. Now they have been regenerated and are thriving areas.

We walk to the Prospect of Whitby, which claims to be the oldest waterside pub in London. It is a much larger establishment than the Grapes and is more of a gastro pub with several rooms to eat in plus a big outside area. We enjoy a leisurely meal and catch up on news. Our children are all now past college years so there is much to catch up on.

The Prospect of Whitby's claim to fame

The Prospect of Whitby’s claim to fame

A good night at the Prospect of Whitby with Dick and Gil Shute

A good night at the Prospect of Whitby with Dick and Gil Shute

The evening draws on and too soon it is time to depart our separate ways. We have to walk back an inland route as the Thames Path is shut at dusk. We walk past the Limehouse road tunnel which we realise must pass under the Limehouse Basin – it’s a busy area.

Saturday 31stAugust – Limehouse to Queenborough.

Boats come in all shapes and sizes on the Thames - including these Sunday morning scullers. They must be brave (or foolhardy) given the size of the wake of some trip boats. The slipway thr9ough the rtiver embankment behind the scullers is for emergency beaching of boats. There are a succession of them along each side of the river. Further up an enterprising company uses one to launch its amphibious vehicle as part of its tour on land and river.

Boats come in all shapes and sizes on the Thames – including these Sunday morning scullers. They must be brave (or foolhardy) given the size of the wake of some trip boats. The slipway thr9ough the rtiver embankment behind the scullers is for emergency beaching of boats. There are a succession of them along each side of the river. Further up an enterprising company uses one to launch its amphibious vehicle as part of its tour on land and river.

We lock out of Limehouse at 0930 to take the tide back down the River. There is a gentle north westerly wind so once we are past the Thames Barrier we can set the sails and manage to sail for the rest of the day.

A typical lighter for gravel used on the Thames

A typical lighter for gravel used on the Thames

There are a surprising number of sand and gravel pits along the Thames, with much of the output being transported by boat into the heart of London

There are a surprising number of sand and gravel pits along the Thames, with much of the output being transported by boat into the heart of London

Somehow the sights pass quicker in this direction although in reality we take just as long to reach Queenborough as we did to do the journey in the opposite direction two days ago. The trip is uneventful, although the wind freshens at times to make for fast sailing. Later it drops so the spinnaker comes out as we sail out into the Estuary.

We have arranged to meet John’s brother Dick and partner Carole at Queenborough. The 24 hour access jetty there is full of motor boats and small yachts but we persuade the harbour master to allow us to tie up for a “couple of hours” to meet up with Dick.

John's brother Dick and partner Carol visited us at Queenborough....

John’s brother Dick and partner Carol visited us at Queenborough….

Dick and Carole’s hobby is their horses so they arrive at 6 after they have fed and watered the various steeds. Another good evening ensues, with drinks on board and then a meal at Queenborough Yacht Club. The chef there is working single handed so the meal extends in time but there is plenty to chat about.

....and a good evening was had at Queenborough Yacht Club

….and a good evening was had at Queenborough Yacht Club

Back at the jetty we part company and return to Sundart where an irate harbour master shoos us off to raft up on a visitors buoy where we pass an uneventful night.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       32.3 nm

Total miles to date:          2291.6 nm

Engine hours:                  2.0 hours

Total engine hours:          281.8 hours

Hours sailed:                   8.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           502.7 hours

Sunday 1st September – Queenborough to Ramsgate.

Unravelling the twisted spinnaker - acres of sail in the confined space below

Unravelling the twisted spinnaker – acres of sail in the confined space below

We are up and off by 0900. There is a nice breeze from the west so once we are clear of Sheerness we can goose wing out of the Thames estuary. The main hazard en route is the Margate sand Bank off that town. There is an inshore route (known as the Overland Route) or an offshore route which is deeper. We calculate the tidal heights and times and conclude that we can take the shorter, Overland Route. This we duly do, passing the Isle of Sheppey, Whitstable and Margate en route.

North Foreland with the lighthouse towards the left of the headland. North Foreland has had some form of lighthouse since 1499; the current lighthouse dates from 1691 and was the last lighthouse to be automated (in 1998). North Foreland is the end of the chalk Downs which stretch from here across the north and west of Kent before curving southwards through Sussex and emerging at Eastbourne at the dramatic cliffs of Beachy Head. The  Downs cradle the Weald valley and the two provide some of the loveliest scenery in England.

North Foreland with the lighthouse towards the left of the headland. North Foreland has had some form of lighthouse since 1499; the current lighthouse dates from 1691 and was the last lighthouse to be automated (in 1998). North Foreland is the end of the chalk Downs which stretch from here across the north and west of Kent before curving southwards through Sussex and emerging at Eastbourne at the dramatic cliffs of Beachy Head. The Downs cradle the Weald valley and the two provide some of the loveliest scenery in England.

Eventually we reach North Foreland, a well known landmark for seafarers with it long established lighthouse (one of the oldest in the UK) and its chalk cliffs. We turn south and after a few miles we reach Ramsgate. We obtain permission to enter the port form Port Control (although there is no longer any ferry traffic here) and reach Ramsgate Martina. There are plenty of spaces here as the holiday season is about over.

Margate. The blue box-like building is the new Turner Contemporary Gallery which is the centre of the culture led regeneration of a badly faded seaside town. The gallery is named after the artist JMW Turner who stayed at Margate to paint, inspired by the effects of the local Thanet light. Turner Contemporary’s purpose is "to stretch the boundaries of current visual arts practice, to make the exhibitions sufficiently varied and to bridge the gap between the historical and contemporary."

Margate. The blue box-like building is the new Turner Contemporary Gallery which is the centre of the culture led regeneration of a badly faded seaside town. The gallery is named after the artist JMW Turner who stayed at Margate to paint, inspired by the effects of the local Thanet light. Turner Contemporary’s purpose is “to stretch the boundaries of current visual arts practice, to make the exhibitions sufficiently varied and to bridge the gap between the historical and contemporary.”

Broadstairs - a favourite of Charles Dickens who visited it regularly between 1837 to 1659 and immortalised it as "Our English watering place". He wrote David Copperfiled there and included it in parts of that book. The town celebrates the Dickens connection with its annual Dickens Festival in June of each year.

Broadstairs – a favourite of Charles Dickens who visited it regularly between 1837 to 1659 and immortalised it as “Our English watering place”. He wrote David Copperfield there and included it in parts of that book. The town celebrates the Dickens connection with its annual Dickens Festival in June of each year when townsfolk dress in Victorian costume and various Dickens related events are put on.

Harbour formalities done, we walk into town.

The Royal Temple Yacht Club. The roads and houses are terraced into the chalk cliffs that rise up to the south end of the town.

The Royal Temple Yacht Club. The roads and houses are terraced into the chalk cliffs that rise up to the south end of the town.

A well earned pint at the RTYC, sitting on the terrace overlooking the harbour

A well earned pint at the RTYC, sitting on the terrace overlooking the harbour

The view over the inner harbour from the RTYC

The view over the inner harbour from the RTYC

Ramsgate is an attractive port to visit as there are plenty of pubs, restaurants and shops by the water front. The town is partly built up the chalk cliffs with terraced streets and houses to the south.

An evening view across the inner harbour towards the south end of Ramsgate. The chalk cliffs can be seen tot he left and the stairs up them which lead to Waitrose's

An evening view across the inner harbour towards the south end of Ramsgate. The chalk cliffs can be seen tot he left and the stairs up them which lead to Waitrose’s

We wander through the town then return to the water front for a drink at the Royal Temple Yacht Club (RTYC), a long established, traditional yachting establishment that has magnificent views over the harbour.

Back onboard we enjoy a vegetable curry before turning in.

Ship’s log

Day’s run:                       29.1 nm

Total miles to date:          2320.7 nm

Engine hours:                  0.6 hours

Total engine hours:          282.4 hours

Hours sailed:                   7.0 Hours

Total hours sailed;           509.7 hours

Monday 2nd September – Ramsgate to Dover 

Ramsgate is very much in the front line of border control with a patrol boat stationed there.

Ramsgate is very much in the front line of border control with a patrol boat stationed there.

There is an array of shops, pubs and restaurants in Ramsgate, many in attractive older buildings.

There is an array of shops, pubs and restaurants in Ramsgate, many in attractive older buildings.

The tide will run south in the afternoon so we have the morning in port. John decides he needs to work to complete an assignment for a customer. Janet and Yvonne walk into town up some steep steps up the cliffs to stock up at the local Waitrose.

Ramsgate once had a thriving fishing industry - now hardly existent. This weas a welfare centre for the youths who worked on the boats. The modern fishermen were paid compensation for loss of their fishing grounds by the wind farms and invested the money into fueling and berthing facilities to service the wind farm vessels, thereby making a good living apparently with much less hazardous work.

Ramsgate once had a thriving fishing industry – now hardly existent. This weas a welfare centre for the youths who worked on the boats. The modern fishermen were paid compensation for loss of their fishing grounds by the wind farms and invested the money into fueling and berthing facilities to service the wind farm vessels, thereby making a good living apparently with much less hazardous work.

Invicta - the white horse that is the emblem of Kent

Invicta – the white horse that is the emblem of Kent

The three lions - emblem of the confederation of Cinque Ports (Norman for "five ports"). Originally the confederation was for trade and military purposes (although now it is entirely ceremonial). The five ports were Hastings, New Romney, Hythe, Dover & sandwich. Two antients and seven limbs were admitted into the confederation, including Ramsgate which was regarded as a limb of Sandwich. Churchill was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports at one time.

The three lions – emblem of the confederation of Cinque Ports (Norman for “five ports”). Originally the confederation was for trade and military purposes (although now it is entirely ceremonial). The five ports were Hastings, New Romney, Hythe, Dover & sandwich. Two antients and seven limbs were admitted into the confederation, including Ramsgate which was regarded as a limb of Sandwich. Churchill was Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports at one time.

We lunch, then fill the diesel tank and set off. The forecast is for light winds and so it is as we get permission and leave harbour.

We came out of Ramsgate to find one of the Round The World Clipper Race Boats becalmed. We headed off further off shore to find the wind and surprisingly overtook them.....

We came out of Ramsgate to find one of the Round The World Clipper Race Boats becalmed. We headed off further off shore to find the wind and surprisingly overtook them…..

...but once the wind filled in the racing yacht inevitably overtook us and sailed away around the world

…but once the wind filled in the racing yacht inevitably overtook us and sailed away around the world

Outside we see some of the Clipper Round the World race boats. The back marker, sponsored by Chinese Company, is becalmed near the harbour entrance so we motor sail over to take photos and exchange waves. Further out we can see other Clipper yachts sailing so we motor on a bit further to catch the breeze.

This is an interesting area to sail, there being the Goodwin Sands off shore. This was for long a “ship trap” with many boats caught out by the tides and shifting sands as they tried to pass through the stretch of water known as the Downs. As a youth bought up in Kent, John has memories of tales being told of cricket matches being played on the Goodwins at spring low tides and of naval actions in these waters.

Beating through the  swell in the Downs towards South Foreland

Beating through the swell in the Downs  and past the Goodwin sands towards South Foreland

The imposing chalk cliffs at South Foreland and its lighthouse. We had a fine sail past here but needed to sail close to the cliffs to shelter whilst we put in two reefs as the wind strengthened.

The imposing chalk cliffs at South Foreland and its lighthouse. We had a fine sail past here but needed to sail close to the cliffs to shelter whilst we put in two reefs as the wind strengthened.

To our surprise the wind continues to increase, blowing from the south west. We beat down the channel inshore of the Goodwins. To our surprise we match the tail end Clipper boat to the end of the Goodwins (as we had found more wind) but once we meet it we are “toast” as that racing machine gets into its stride and sails south and away from us. It has been a fun encounter.

The wind continues to increase as does the swell. We take in two reefs off Deal and continue south past the majestic cliffs at South Foreland and its conspicuous lighthouse. It is a good if rather bouncy sail and a satisfying way to traverse these renowned waters.

We round South Foreland and see an almost constant stream of ferries entering and leaving Dover. It is the busiest port we have come across in our travels so far. We have to call up Dover Port Control when we are within two miles of the harbour entrance and are instructed to stow our sails and motor in as there is a lull in ferry activity.

For many Dover is defined by its busy ferry port, seen on the right in this photo taken from within the huge harbour breakwater. However, there are many other aspects such as the imposing castle on the hill (seen centre left) and the maze of tunnels in the cliffs and command posts from WW2. it is nowadays the nerve centre for controlling the huge numebr of ships that pass through the Straits of Dover, one of the busiest and densest shipping routes int the world. They must have good radar as they  had spotted our little boat before made the mandatory radio contact before we got close to the harbour.

For many Dover is defined by its busy ferry port, seen on the right in this photo taken from within the huge harbour breakwater. However, there are many other aspects such as the imposing castle on the hill (seen centre left) and the maze of tunnels in the cliffs and command posts from WW2. it is nowadays the nerve centre for controlling the huge numebr of ships that pass through the Straits of Dover, one of the busiest and densest shipping routes int the world. They must have good radar as they had spotted our little boat before made the mandatory radio contact before we got close to the harbour.

The ferries use the Eastern Docks; cruise ships seem to have taken over the Western Docks, once used by the boat trains. We had to wait for the Crystal Symphony to clear harbour before we could get into Granville Dock to the right of this picture.

The ferries use the Eastern Docks; cruise ships seem to have taken over the Western Docks, once used by the boat trains. We had to wait for the cruise ship Crystal Symphony to clear harbour before we could get into Granville Dock (to the right of this picture).

We arrange to berth at the Granville Dock on the west side so once inside the enormous harbour we track past the huge ferry port on the eastern side. However, there is a cruise ship just about to leave the western port so we have to hang about for twenty minutes whilst it edges its way out of harbour. It gives us time to take in the view including the very imposing castle high up the hill.

Cruise ship gone we are soon moored up below the famous white cliffs of Dover. There is a constant sound of traffic in the distance – this port does not seem to sleep!

Moored in Granville Dock under the famous white cliffs of Dover

Moored in Granville Dock under the famous white cliffs of Dover

We enjoy a good supper of sea bass, sealed in foil courtesy of the trip to Waitrose, before turning in. Tomorrow we will head off west.

Ship’s log 

Day’s run:                       17.6 nm

Total miles to date:          2338.3 nm

Engine hours:                  1.4 hours

Total engine hours:          283.8 hours

Hours sailed:                   4.5 Hours

Total hours sailed;           514.2 hours.

A following wind and fair weather to you all.

Yvonne and John

 

2 thoughts on “London calling

  1. I really enjoyed reading about this part of your trip. We once lived in a “village” on the River Crouch and I was born in Limehouse only a short crawl from where you moored up (I didn’t live there though) My ancestor sailed on HMS Mars from Chatham and their log has many mentions of the Goodwin Sands. We were in Hastings last weekend for a cousin’s wedding nearby and I bought a shipwreck map of the Goodwins and another of the Sussex coast, as there are some fascinating wrecks in those parts. Glad you made it without problem. The music of my teens came from ships and wartime forts around the Essex coast and the Thames Estuary. Radio Caroline, Radio London, Radio Sutch etc. Did you seek sanctuary in the coastal waters of the Principality of Sealand?
    Happy sailing
    Love
    Eileen and Len

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