Thursday, 22 August 2013

Ride of a lifetime

The Limehouse lock gates opened and there in front of us was a yacht waiting to come in, sitting bobbing about on churning waves. I contemplated my fate with a gulp, revved up and pushed the gearstick forward. We were off.
We pitched and rolled as we turned upstream and the tide and waves took us. Another gulp. Then after a couple of minutes when I realised we weren't about to sink I started to settle down into the trip.
And what a trip it was to prove to be – so enjoyable that we'd have turned round and done the whole thing again.
Everything was in our favour: the weather was perfect, the water calm (or so they told me; it didn't look calm to me!) and our expert yachtsman son-in-law Nick was standing beside me on the counter to give advice and tips about handling the push of the tide and coping with the river traffic.
There are a few minutes to acclimatise to the trip as you pass tall old riverside buildings and the famous Prospect of Whitby pub. And then as you round a curve the awesome spectacle of Tower Bridge and the glimmering needle of The Shard.
Before the bridge we'd already been passed by one of the high speed Clipper catarmaran river buses but after the bridge the action comes thick and fast.
The bridges follow each other quickly, mostly at different angles on the curving river so there are decisions to be made about arches and angles, and more decisions about river buses, Clippers and tugs hauling big barges moving every which way. But though they all throw up big wakes, they're all on the alert and so long as you don't dither or do any silly you'll be alright. Well, we were anyway.
The big tug deck swept any waves away so Vicky, Streethay-Nick and Able Seadog Brian could all stay up front and enjoy the action, without getting too wet.
Sadly the Thames trip is like a three hour action movie in which all the stunts happen in the first hour. After the House of Parliament the trip boats are left behind, the river quietens and flattens and you've an hour to contemplate the unbelievable numbers of luxury riverside apartment blocks lining either bank giving way in the final hour to the more widely spaced large and luxurious houses of the suburbs before reaching the tidal limit at Teddington Lock.
Twenty hugely enjoyable miles done in just three hours with the JP3 running perfectly at little more than tickover.
When can we do it again?
Leaving Limehouse with Mac's boat Freederic following

First sight of Tower Bridge and the Shard

Brian keeps a watching brief on the helm team

One of the big Clippers about to accelerate away from its stop

Past Tower Bridge and the Boris Building
The bridges are tightly spaced and often busy
But after Parliament things quieten down

Immense display of wealth at Chelsea

Brian reflects on the trip

But decides it's not worth losing sleep over

1 comment:

  1. Looking at that last shot of Brian I guess he had a double dose of Valium and still hung under! Looks and exciting trip and some great shots from on board plus Adams additions of the bridge based shots make it a great collection (definitely a collection for the Harry Achieve. But doesn't Harry look small in that environment of monster boats and London's landmarks. Glad you all enjoyed the 'experience' and Harry and the Skipper handled it so well.