2017 plan in progess
After Carina's Cruise - see Elfida in Normandy
Carina to Tower Bridge
The town quay at Faversham has no facilities but is right in the centre of Town. When we arrived there was a dredger & tug occupying all the space. Fortunately some very helpful residents came out to help & directed us to a private mooring space.
We carried out all the usual drill for taking the ground, effectively sealing off the yacht. She sunk down in the soft mud to the point where the mud line was pretty much the normal water line!
Old Faversham town is very pretty; a street market was in progress the next morning. Mike went for a haircut & Anthea went shopping but only came back with a bun tin for Carina.
That night we tied to the all tide Pontoon at Queenborough (the first all tide refuge after leaving Ramsgate). This is connected to the mainland by a very long walk way that is only afloat near HW. It’s a pretty desolate place. There are no facilities on the pontoon; the public toilets are in the park near the walkway. It was really the only sensible place to overnight if we wanted to get to Tower Bridge at the correct time.
The highlight for me was seeing the statue of Pocahontas who sadly died aged about 22 & is buried in the church.
Run to Tower Bridge:
Reading the information available on transiting the Thames makes it sound quite daunting. The actuality is that it is very simple, providing you talk to the PLA on the allocated channels. A big ship even waited for us to pass before casting off.
En Route, Anthea diligently polished our fenders which had become blackened by the tyres chained to our overnight pontoon.
We arrived with about an hour to the scheduled lift & tied up to a waiting buoy. Interestingly the tide was running very strongly Eastward as we arrived at 1500 (HW-3) but when we set off at 1555, the tide was slack. Later on the tide was running strongly again. There is sparse information about tidal streams occurring in the Narrow part of the Thames ( Gravesend inward).
The Bridge operator gave us a 5 minute notification & we readied for the lift. The bascules rise quite rapidly & in a short while we were through & into the pool of London, dodging the traffic until it was time aging to the outbound lift. Although busy, it was straightforward to keep out of the way.
They only lift the bascules sufficiently for the vessel; they were noticeably lower on our return.
It was so nice that Peter & Judy watched from the riverbank & Nicki talked her way on to a boat moored off Butlers Wharf.
What an experience & in such beautiful weather.
by Chris Williams June 2016
It was a very early start! We passed Portsmouth entrance with the last bit of the ebb at 0415. The tide was then fair until mid afternoon.
Looking at the Eastern Channel tidal streams, a “null area” appears near Eastbourne where there are both Eastbound & Westbound streams. The Null moves slightly East as time goes on before turning foul. This is the key to the whole plan, making sure that we get to the null at the right time. In essence this means achieving an average SOG of < 7 Kts. We certainly cracked on in the early stages, seeing 9 kts at times.
On Sunday Dave took us up to Ramsgate the next day in very light winds. We ventured into the Royal Temple Yacht Club which occupies a beautiful old red brick building with a superb view over the harbour. They were very welcoming & certainly worth a visit.
Unfortunately the wind died away off Reculver & we needed to motor to get into the narrow tide window that would enable us to get right up the creek into Faversham. In days gone by this was a thriving port but the whole channel has become much silted, needing careful positioning to stay in the deeper water. By half tide, the creek is dry! It takes about an hour from the Entrance to Faversham town quay.
On Tuesday Anthea was taking us to Conyer creek. This posed a difficult conundrum: not being able to leave Faversham until there was sufficient water yet arriving at Conyer, again with sufficient water. Needless to say it all worked, although we cold not leave Faversham until later than the tide tables would suggest. We even managed to sail a large portion of Conyer creek on the Genoa; Anthea winning a good natured bet with Mike that we would be able to sail for 15 minutes.
Conyer Creek, Swale Marina was delightful. It’s an old marina but the yacht club (closed) / administration building were both new & well kept. Everyone was very helpful. Again the yacht sunk down into the mud. It was quite weird looking UP to other boats that settled on higher mud banks. The Ship Inn, the only public building for miles, served a very nice meal.
The whole Swale area seems much more remote than the actuality. The few roads that exist only lead directly from the main coast road, several miles inland.
The next day Dave B took us further up the Swale , under the Kingsferry Bridge. This bridge is combined road / Rail Bridge that lifts vertically. The guide books say it lifts “on demand”, however, speaking to the locals – “on demand” means lifts occur about H+10.
It’s about 50 years old, can only lift twice an hour, so the machinery can cool down & may not lift in hot weather as it can distort & jam!!
We had to wait for the train from the mainland to cross over to the Isle of Sheppey & then return before our bridge lift.
The next day was fine & clear as we departed the Medway for Gravesend. Again we found the bottom using the keel as we made our around the Isle of Grain.
We had arranged to overnight on the inside of the Gravesend ferry pontoon. There are very few sensible places to stay in the Thames. Just opposite was “Tilbury International Cruise Terminal” which would not have looked out of place in Banksy’s Dismal Land!
It was all Ok until a tug passed at 0126 causing a Tsunami & another lesser one at 0445. The town itself has some good buildings near the waterfront but degenerated fairly quickly inland. We also discovered that MV Balmoral, with whom we were to pass under Tower Bridge, had broken down & the lift would be for us alone.