Wednesday 12th to Thursday 13th December Ref: 2007/28
Fine weather but very cold overnight and then very foggy in the morning making even more justifiable my decision to push on late into the evening to make our way up the Thames to Limehouse and St Kat's
A cunningly timed passage to leave us in the relatively safe confines of The Thames Estuary during the evening hours of darkness and in open water watching for crab pots in what daylight we had! The weather window was fully exploited as it was foggy the following day and due to deteriorate later. I had calculated that we would only manage to get to Limehouse if we did some cruising after dark and, because of the crab and lobster pots littering the coast as a hazard, the best place to do this was coming up the Thames where there were none allowed to be set. David Harrison was not keen to spend more that Tuesday on the boat, for he had an appointment in Bournemouth with his mother on the Wednesday trying to get her into the smart residential home. The previous night, he had gone ashore and got some bread, ham, cheese and a few other chocolate biscuits and goodies for the cruise the next day and, whilst he was gone, I managed to get the rest of the boat ready for this day’s cruise and so we were right ready.
This was the perfect day for cruising – even better than the day before - and so I decided to set off before dawn and get a half hour’s start on the day. This was an inspired decision for it meant that I was cruising into the brightness of the dawn and had turned before we had to cope with the actual sun rising above the horizon. It was soon light enough to see and to turn off all of our navigation lights etc and so we could cruise along at out modest 9-10knots without problems. The cruise went very well but it turned into a long debate about where we should stop and how far we could get. David really wanted us to stop at Ramsgate where his son could pick him up by car and take him back to Southampton to collect his own car and take it home. This would then be in good time for his outing with his mother the following day. Unfortunately, with the weather set to deteriorate as the week progressed and with me out of time to get Lady Martina round to London, that proposal would be no good for me and it would be better to get the boat into London this day. It would all hinge on how much time the cruise would take and what our arrival time in London would be. David was hoping that we could get in by 8.00pm but, what with the darkness and the Thames estuary tide fast running against us it would be more like 10.00pm before we would eventually get there.
The other factor was that I could not bring the boat up the Thames the following morning for they had arranged a full closure of the Thames Barrier for this time. Once we arrived at Tower Bridge, there appeared no room at the jetty and so we moored up on the fuel barge, having checked with the barge owners who had no objection. Though the water buses had finished there was a good number of restaurant barges plying their trade on the river after dark, serving Christmas dinners and hosting Christmas parties but at least they did not speed too much not make a large wash; the idea being to lull their clients with a pleasant cruise. I served David and I a couple of beers as we relaxed after an epic voyage before we called it a night and sloped off to our bunks.
This had been a very good day and now all that I needed to do was to fill up with fuel in the morning and then to try and get into Limehouse in time for my Council Meeting and David off in time for his commitments. We did this okay but, in my anxiety to get David off to his appointment on time, I went in a little early on the tide with my propellers grounding in the morning when entering Limehouse lock basin but then they were shot anyway and in need of repair!
7.5-30(under bridge canopy)-5degC, 59-27-53%RH, 1036-1042mb steady, smooth/slight/calm seas in fine but cold weather good viz but fog in morning but tide against us