Sunday, 13 January 2013

Dodging the Woolwich Ferries

In my last post detailing my recent cruise on Indigo Dream we were just entering the Thames from the Lea. We soon passed under the Emirates Airline cable cars.

The Thames was almost millpond-calm with almost no wind. We were punching the tide, but you'd hardly have realised. We were making 5 mph until we caught up with slower boats in front. The only pity weather-wise was that it was all rather murky - but I'm not complaining!

In the photo below you can see three of the narrowboats in our convoy of seven.

Half-an-hour later came the Thames Flood Barrier: we were to pass through Span B. Because I'd done this in 2010 it wasn't quite the amazing thrill it had been the first time, nevertheless, Richard had handed the helm over to me by now, and it was great steering through the gap.

And then ... the Woolwich Ferries. We'd seen one crossing some way in front of us, and as we came through the Barrier the way seemed clear. But then the Essex side ferry started its journey across. Would we get through in time? It looked easy. But our speed against the tide suddenly seemed insignificant compared with the rate at which the monster ferry was approaching. Perhaps we'd have to give in and swing left to go behind it. But we'd left it a bit late for that. The ferry really was very big. Richard, inexplicably, was inside and seemed oblivious to the danger. Oh well, nothing for it but to charge full steam ahead. We waved to the ferry's crew - they waved back cheerfully. In moments we were through, the ferry, towering above us, devouring the water we'd only just left. Phew!

It probably wasn't quite as dramatic as I've tried to make it sound, and I'm sure the ferry captains are used to small boats mucking about in front of them. But it was a relief to have that bit of the journey behind us.

And where are the photographs, you ask? Photos? You must be joking! I was steering! If you want photos you'll have to wait for them to come out in Canal Boat magazine. Deputy editor Martin Ludgate was following the convoy's progress from the bank, and had hopped on one of the ferries to take some photos from its unique vantage point. There'll be more about Martin later.

Now I must read what Richard has written about this trip in Indigo Dream's blog ...


Anonymous said...

It's nice to read two accounts - I'm sure that Richard edits his solo-cruising blogs so as not to worry me! :-D

Sue, nb Indigo Dream

ps. so pleased that you enjoyed the trip

Halfie said...

Sue, there's always the possibility that I might have over-dramatised it just a teensy bit. But then Richard's photos re-inject the drama!