Summary: 81.4 miles in eleven and three quarter hours. Pyefleet to Limehouse Basin in London. Over 8 hours of sailing – generally fast though the wind started to die around lunch time, so we motored the rest of the way up the Thames.
After a not very peaceful wind over tide night (the waves really slapped under the counter when the tide turned) we left Pyefleet at 5.30am. We hoisted full sail and for the next 7 hours had some fast and enjoyable (well enjoyable for Andy, not so much for Anne who was cold 🙁 ) sailing in a NWly varying between 15 and 22 kts. A broad reach out of the Colne to the Bar buoy, goosewinged through the Spitway and across to the South Whitaker and then rounded up and reached down the Swin channel as far as the Blacktail Spit buoy. Making between 7.5 and 8.5kts through the water for most of the time, but with the ebb against us this was a little slower over the ground. The sun was trying to shine through, though it was a little greyer and cloudier than forecast. From Blacktail Spit we rounded up a little more onto a close reach and the wind eased a little. Past Shoebury Ness, the old Mulberry Harbour off Southend Pier, then past the Pier and on and on and on towards Canvey Island. Slow progress by this stage as we had arrived a little quicker than expected and there was still full ebb against us. Painfully slowly we crept past Canvey and on towards the new Holehaven port, crossing over at West Leigh Middle buoy to the south side of the channel as they ‘recommend’.
Off East Tilbury we finally decided that with the wind easing and increasingly going ahead as the river twisted and turned, it was time to motor. The engine though had other plans and decided that it didn’t want to go. The key just locked solid in the ignition switch. So, we took the jib in and sailed on under main only considering whether to head back to Queenborough or on to Thurrock Yacht Club round the corner. After half an hour or so of fiddling, dismantling the switch panel and debating which wires would jump start it, the combination of Anne and WD40 got the engine started as the key finally turned. We decided we then wouldn’t turn it off again. We really must learn how to jump start it!
We then made excellent progress as the tide turned with us and by 4.00pm we were heading past the O2 with the new cable car going across the Thames to Stratford. 4.15pm saw us heading past HMS Ocean at Greenwich – there to help prevent an invasion during the Olympics, so long as the invaders give us a week’s notice to allow them time to get out again. She was moored by the refurbished Cutty Sark looking great with her masts back in again. We were off Limehouse by 4.30pm and decided to go on down to have a look at Tower Bridge before coming back and locking into Limehouse at 5.05pm. All in all, an excellent trip with just one minor (!) hitch. We moored in berth B4 in Limehouse Basin.
See the London – May 2012 picture gallery for more photos.