Limehouse Basin to The Royal Docks via Bow Creek

3 January 2007

Before the trip we were moored up in Limehouse Basin, along with some rather taller craft.

Other boats on the trip included Gnasher...

... Shepherd Moon...

... Shoestring ...

... and Panacea (otherwise known as Pancake!)

We motored along the Limehouse Cut to Bow, winded, and tied up under the railway bridge...

... which is apparently at risk from collision with over-height boats!

Other boats were already waiting to lock through at Bow Locks.

Lotus and Fulbourne approach the lock.

It was near high tide and there was only a few inches fall...

... as can be seen from the water level on the gates.

The 'traditional' industries are still present along the banks of Bow Creek, but for how much longer, with all the Olympics-related tidying up to come?

Sally and Martin, with Lotus behind.

This boat appears to have its permanent mooring on the tidal Bow Creek.

More traditional industry here...

... but the Pura maragarine works, which used to receive deliveries of vegetable oil by boat, and which was still standing a year ago, is now being demolished.

Approaching the Thames.

Container City on Trinity Buoy Wharf

Trinity Buoy Wharf with its lighthouse at the junction of Bow Creek and the River Thames.

A high speed Police launch passed us. We were to encounter these again later in the trip.

Heading towards the Thames Barrier.

Cormorants on a jetty.

Sally and Martin still on the counter as we lave the barrier behind us.

Sue - Figurehead for Lotus!

A ship tied up at the Silvertown jetty which serves Tate & Lyle's refinery.

The John Burns, one of the Woolwich Ferries. We would meet again!

Approaching the King George V entrance to the Royal Docks. The buildings in the background stand on the site of Harland and Wolff's North Woolwich shipyard where Fulbourne was built in 1937.

A survey vessel waits outside the lock as Lotus turns into the entrance.

Our convoy joined a number of other boats heading for the Boat Show. Snapper, the triple decker on the left, was the most expensive boat exhibited at the show.

The rest of the convoy tied up behind us...

... and alongside.

The survey vessel joined us in the lock.

They had to open the lift bridge for the yachts to get out...

... but shut it while the narrowboats were still leaving.

The convoy headed out into King George V Dock, then through the channel linking to the Royal Albert Dock. The distinctive buildings in the background are part of the University of East London.

The yachts had headed off at speed in front of us...

... but then had to wait for the Connaught swing bridges to be opened.

We continued on past them...

... and under the road bridge as it started to swing.

We then continued to the west end of the Royal Victoria Dock where we moored up at the northwest corner.

The Royal Docks to the West India Docks

15 January 2007

A fortnight later we left our mooring in the Royal Victoria Dock. Martin steers us out.

Heading straight into the morning sun, the cranes, buildings and footbridge are silhouetted against the sky.

Approaching the Connaught swing bridges.

A sailing barge moored up.

Martin steers... a plane comes in to land at London City Airport...

... meanwhile other planes queue for takeoff very close to the water's edge.

We entered the King George V lock which is already occupied by HMS St Albans and two tugs.

There's quite a depth of water under Fulbourne's bottom.

The flotilla assembled.

The tug Cobham looms large.

The flotilla...

... looks lost from the other end of the lock. The tug Adster revs up.

We were joined by the tug Major.

Cobham takes the strain.

The gates open...

... and we are off onto the Thames.

Approaching Woolwich.

We passed the Woolwich Ferry John Burns...

... which came up rather closer behind us than we expected

The rest of the convoy passes the ferry.

Another ship is moored up to the Silvertown jetty.

Approaching the Thames Barrier.

We pass through our allotted span.


The tail enders.

Approaching the Millennium Dome, Canary Wharf is behind.

Shoestring passes the Dome.

The former western entrance to the Royals. The tall buildings in the background are where we started today's journey.

Silhouetted against the morning sun.

Passing the entrance to Bow Creek.

The entrance to the East India Dock Basin. It may say "Refurbished 1995-1997" but it didn't look very usable.

Container traffic. The circular building is the vent shaft for the old (northbound) Blackwall Tunnel.

The former Blackwall Basin entrance to the West India Docks is lined with new appartment blocks.

Next to it some older, and no doubt much more expensive, property backs directly onto the river.

Approaching the West India Docks entrance, spanned by the "Blue Bridge".

Just as so often on the cut, we arrived at the lock to find it occupied by a boat coming down. We had to go past the entrance and turn back downstream.

As we passed the Dome again we came close to this short section of a ship. Not quite sure what its there for!

After turning back again towards the lock entrance, the tug and barge which had been in the lock pass the Dome on their way downstream.

Meanwhile we were joined by more boats for the protest cruise which had set out from Limehouse and travelled round the Isle of Dogs to join us in the West India Docks.

Approaching the lock entrance for the second time.

The gates were open for us this time, but the bridge remained closed.

The flotilla in the lock...

... overlooked by three dockside cranes.

Leaving the lock.

The top paddle is still up. When it is down it lies flush with the dockside.

Mooring up.

The Hourable Lady's engine had failed on the trip down from Limehosue and had been taken in tow. Graham lends a hand. The problem turned out to be a blocked fuel filter.

The engine sorted, The Honourable Lady took a trip round the dock to test the engine. We followed suit. Here we are heading west along South Dock. However BW were having none of it - a phone call told us to return to base, and we were denied the opportunity to boat around waters which are not normally available to us.

The boats moored up on South Quay as the light begins to fade.

The Westminster Protest Cruise

West India Docks to Lambeth Bridge to Limehouse

16 January 2007

Preparing to depart the next morning.

Entering the lock.

Looking back along South Dock. We will pass the sloping "Cascades" building in the background again.

Boats in front of us...

... and behind us.

A late arrival last night had been a barge with a high wheelhouse, so they had to open the bridge for us this time.

We formed up in the specified formation as we passed down the east side of the Isle of Dogs.

Approaching Greenwich - the London Transport Greenwich Power Station is on the left, the Royal Hospital in the distance.

Looking back at the rest of the flotilla behind us, with the Dome in the background.

Greenwich from the river.

And as we pass up the west side of the Isle of Dogs we pass the Cascades building again.

The former entrance to the Limehouse Cut. This was closed in 1968 and the Cut diverted into Limehouse Basin. The lock cottages survive, with a 'water feature' where the lock chamber used to be.

As we passed the Limehouse entance we were joined by more boats.

Approaching Tower Bridge.

All morning we had been accompanied by the police, and each of the boats was boarded in turn and the crew interviewed. The water was a bit choppy and the officer who boarded us had to leap back onto the Police launch.

Lining up for London's most famous bridge.

We passed a flaoting recycling point. Time did not allow us to put our empty bottles and cans in the appropriate bins.

Just in case we were in any doubt!

Approaching Southwark Bridge.

Look carefully! The scaffolding around this building under construction is clothed with an image of what is to come.

The stream of boats behind us looks quite impressive.

Blackfriars Bridges - rail behind, road above us.

Even on the tidal Thames moored boats display 'slow down' notices!

The Police launch passes us again as we pass the Oxo Tower.

IWA had a river trip boat for dignitaries and the press.

The aim of the protest - boats displaying banners and placards pass in front of the palace of Westminster.

The security boat makes sure we don't get too close as Ernest (left) and Earnest (right) make their protest.

Carrying on up river we pass the tug Merit and a train of rubbish barges coming downstream.

The rest of the boats come through Lambeth Bridge.

After turning round below Vauxhall Bridge we head downstream back past the Houses of Parliament again, with Westminster Bridge and The London Eye in the background.

Tug Major comes up behind us, as the boats behind pass back under Lambeth Bridge.

Passing back under Southwark Bridge.

We caught up Merit again, which had just dropped off one of its train at a riverside wharf.

We held back to allow Merit through Tower Bridge.

Leaving the last of the river bridges we would pass under behind us.

Arriving at Limehouse we go past the lock entrance. The leading boats are turning across the river.

Having turned we slowly edged upstream back towards the lock.

Waiting on the piling outside the lock entrance. This picture just doesn't show how choppy the water was - the boats were rising and falling against each other making it difficult to stay on station, and laving us all feeling a little nauseous for the first time in the trip.

As the boats ahead moved into the lock, we rounded the corner to wait in the lock entrance, under the swing bridge, before reentering the more familiar waters of the canal system.

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