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It's Vince and Malcolm

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For charity of course

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  St Kathrines Dock to Shotley Marina 3rd August 2007

Thursday 2nd August, and it's another warm sunny day Ron's youngest son Jonathan is visiting us today as he is working and living in London at the moment. So today we will be relaxing most of the time, although we will need to find a food store, so we can get some groceries etc. The other thing we must do is have a look at the some of the sights seeing as we are so close.

A couple of the yachties visiting London on their boats have been to see us, to ask about the voyage, and to find out why all the signs on the boat. When I told them about the charity, I was given a donation, which is very kind of them, especially as they were Dutch. Jonathan arrived with his girl friend, and spent some time with us on the boat, and we walked round the marina area looking at the different types and sizes of boats moored there, including some Thames Barges, which are for charter, although we were told they hadn't been very busy so far this year. Jonathan went off to get some food for lunch, as he knew where to get ready prepared pasta/salads sliced meats, and crusty bread,  and added some fruit too, which we all enjoyed, with a glass of liquid grape.      

Jonathan left late afternoon which gave me and Ron some time to have a walk to see the sights local to the marina the nearest being Tower Bridge, then the Tower of London which is all we have time for really. Back on the boat Ron checked our departure time for tomorrow, and it looks like we will leave at 06:00. Its about 90 miles to Shotley so it will be a long day, but we will make good time down river with the tidal flow, but as we head north we will have to push the tide.

05:30 and We rouse and prepare for our next leg. First job is shave shower and clean teeth, plus the bodily functions, then its a hot drink and cereals for breakfast, before preparing Anita for sea. Its 06:30 as we depart the lock, to make our way back down the Thames. The Clippers are busy already with passengers making their way about London, probably thinking about the week end and some relaxing time before it all starts again on Monday. I wonder sometimes is it all worth it? Jan didn't think so, she gave up the security of her city job, and only does work she enjoys now, mostly sailing.

There is no wind today, so we are motoring, and making good time passing the well known sights as we go. Moored on the south bank a section of a ship is one interesting feature , I wonder what it is used for now? We go east, then west, and back to east of the Greenwich Meriden at the end of Greenwich Reach, and through Blackwall Reach, we will remain east now until we leave Spurn Point and head up the Humber for home. As we enter the Thames Barrier control zone I radioed for clearance to pass through the barrier, and was asked to radio again when we are nearer. Once through the barrier, the next obstacle are the ferries crossing the river at Woolwich, but as we pass they are both alongside so no problem. We continue down river, Passing back under the QE2 Bridge. Further down we pass the dock where the waste disposal barges are moored. They have containers with waste from London stacked line across on their decks, waiting for the containers to be lifted onto trailers and towed away to be emptied and processed. As we round the next bend, we are in Sea Reach, where the river starts to widen out into the estuary. We head for the next channel which is the Yantlet dredged channel. The tide is well out as we pass Southend Pier, and I can understand now why it's so long. We are now in the shallow waters of the Thames Estuary where careful navigation will be required to keep us off the sand banks. It's pilotage really as it's a clear day, but as its not always possible to see the next buoy, we still input the course from buoy to buoy into the tiller pilot,  don't want to leave the channel and run aground. We stay in the Yantlet dredged channel, still following the buoys and keeping a good lookout for ships, keeping well clear as they pass. We will stay in the channel just following the buoys, and as there  isn't much traffic, we decide to have some lunch. I refuel the diesel tank while Ron does lunch, and as Its so calm I manage not to spill a drop. Seeing the large expanses of sand in the estuary, it's easy to see how you can go aground.

We head on through Yantlet following the buoys, passing Southend Deep Water Anchorage as we go, then on through the warp leaving the SW Barrow South cardinal to port. Before heading through Mouse Channel into Barrow Deep. We leave Barrow No 5 Starboard Buoy and set a course direct for the Gunfleet Spit South Cardinal 6nm away. We are making great time, we must have been going some down the Thames. I didn't have the GPS on, and the log wasn't working so I don't know what speed we were doing. I could have worked it out but felt relaxed enough about our progress anyway.

As we pass the NE Gunfleet East Cardinal Ron Suggests we might cut across the corner to Cork Hole, and as the tide is right, I alter course to 345degT for the Cork Sand starboard buoy, where we can enter the South Channel into the Orwell. We will have to keep a lookout for rough water as we cross the sand banks, but I can't see there will be any problems, as there is still no wind. That's all day motoring, but no problems with the engine. We reach the Cork Sand buoy with no trouble, and had just altered course into the small channel when the wind arrived, F2/3, but a bit too late for us. We make our way round Landguard Point,  past Harwich and up river, and past the container ships moored alongside the container port quay. There are lots of boats heading up the Orwell, and they are probably as disappointed as we are with the lack of wind today.

Once past the first container ship we cross the Orwell and head for the Shotley Spit South Cardinal where we enter the River Stour. Just a short way up the Stour before we alter course for the East Cardinal. Passing between the East Cardinal and Starboard buoy at the end of the channel into Shotley, along the channel and into the Shotley Marina lock. Its 19:30 and we are secure in Shotley Marina, Engine off Main sail packed away, and getting ready to check in to get an allotted pontoon, It's been another long day.