We were due to return to Penton Hook on Wednesday 19th August 2020.
We actually arrived back on Friday 11th September which was 23 days later!
While at Chatham all members made the most of their enforced visit.
We had a couple of very successful barbeques, several meals out at local restaurants which were all carried out in a Covid social distancing way.
Members made full use of the Chatham situation with trips out to known areas of beauty for an extended lunch and a practice at dropping anchor.
This is not an activity very often carried out on our normal waters of the non-tidal Thames, so all members benefited from this experience.Hammersmith Bridge had been closed to all traffic travelling over and under. As the picture shows the three red symbols of no entry were firmly affixed
This information was discovered on our arrival at Chatham on Thursday 13th August.
This caused great consternation amongst all the members that had travelled away from their own moorings. Luckily for the majority who were MDL members the thought of paying additional fees was not a worry.
Venture however, had to act quickly to cancel their Shepperton affiliation and join MDL to avoid what looked like being an extensive and expensive stay at Chatham.
Luckily they were able to join MDL, and Shepperton generously cooperated with refunds and accepted the situation.
The trip to Burnham-on Crouch went ahead, superbly organised by Maurice Marshall of Venture.
The boats that went to Burnham were; Venture, Jacamar, Beatrice Rose, Breakers ll, Purple Orchid and Mojito with the crew from Enterprise lll on board as their boat was having some turbo engine problems.
The fight to get back under Hammersmith
After much discussion by email with Mr Anvar Alizadeh, the Highway Structure’s Manager at Hammersmith & Fulham Council, and the PLA, which went on for several weeks a glimmer of hope emerged. We were grateful for the interest and support of both the ATYC and the RYA.
We were to be given a one-off slot of time to pass under Hammersmith Bridge.
Members details were requested. Boat names, lengths, widths, air draft and deep drafts, plus all contact details were sent off as requested.
We finally hear back from Mr Alizadeh. The transit day was given to be Friday 11th September.
The times of transit however for each boat varied by five minutes, starting at 06.00am to 07.00, with slots also given to Upper Thames Motor Yacht Club who were in a similar predicament and moored up in St Katherines Dock.
It was decided as a club to travel back upriver on Thursday 10th September and moor overnight at Imperial Wharf near Battersea pier and railway bridge due to the early start needed to make our transit times.
Below, we see Bermuda Blue following Beatrice Rose through the Thames Barrier. Bermuda Blue passing the House of Parliament and a few of our boats birthed at Imperial Wharf.
Most boats arrived in London and were moored up by about 17.30 hours and plans for a night out and a few celebratory drinks were consumed on various boats prior to a meal in a local Restaurant.
Martin Spriggs had attracted media coverage by the BBC news and a number of members were seen on national television explaining our situation.
Nobody had a late night and several members had to get up and ready at 05.00 the next morning.
The view of darkness from Enterprise was what all members had to experience. Luckily the tide was coming in and there was a little ambient light from the footpath lighting on shore. Because of shallow waters and no room to turn at this point one had to steer in reverse to exit the moorings. Fortunately the tide was not that fast so we avoided any problems.
A sense of relief and excitement filled my mind at getting on the open, dark and flowing homeward Thames. From a personal perspective I know that I left far too early to get to my 06.25 slot under Hammersmith Bridge. But I didn’t care! They couldn’t stop me now!!
Bermuda Blue and Enterprise drifted slowly and steadily through Wandsworth and Putney as the expectation grew. I thought I would get past the Fulham flats first and then call the Hammersmith Guard boat to request transit.
The only troubling thought was that I was half an hour early, as was Bermuda Blue behind me.
So without further hesitation, I called up the VTS guard giving my boat name and requesting transit, which was confirmed immediately. Yes, we may have jumped the queue, but with nobody else around we passed under the Bridge with a feeling of great relief. Bermuda Blue seen below followed close behind me. Now for Teddington and then home to Penton Hook with a slowly emerging sunrise.
This is just my story and I am sure every skipper in this particular Albany fleet has their own stories to tell.
Chris Barry, Enterprise III
Innocently we planned to continue AMYC’s return to boating programme after the tribulations of 2020 with a cruise to Chatham and Burnham. After lots of planning eight of our boats gathered at Teddington on 12th August, ready for departure the next morning. We enjoyed a pleasant socially distanced meal that evening at the Anglers pub and retired for the night. Up at the crack of dawn ready to start locking out at 7-30 am, we needed three locks to fit us all in. On our way down the Thames as we neared the estuary Venture was boarded by the Border Force. They were very pleasant and simply asked a few polite questions about our route and the purpose of our voyage.
Despite earlier concerns about the weather it was actually quite clement. We were welcomed by our Commodore on Mojito when we entered the Medway. Sadly two boats suffered mechanical problems with one, Bagpuss & Co, having to be towed to safety into Chatham Marina.
Our arrival was celebrated that evening with drinks and nibbles aboard Mojito followed by an enjoyable meal at the nearby Italian restaurant Villagio.
Our innocent joy was not to last: the next morning we were greeted by the news that Hammersmith Bridge was in danger of collapse and had been closed to navigation. Then there was another message suggesting that navigation might be possible through one arch. Then finally confirmation that passage through the bridge was completely impossible, preventing a return to our home berths at Shepperton and Penton Hook on the non-tidal Thames. After much discussion we decided that the best thing was to continue with our plans and see how the Hammersmith situation developed.
That evening we had a splendid barbecue, accompanied by Pimms, at Chatham Marina with the cooking expertly supervised by Chris and Tony:
A good time was had by all; as the evening progressed there may have been some singing to sustain our spirits in the situation. Fortunately most of our members have not attempted to make a career in the music industry <grin>.
Saturday dawned fair and we set out to our next destination, Burnham on Crouch. After a pleasant trip we all moored in Burnham Yacht Harbour and enjoyed its peaceful location and the pleasant stroll along the riverside into the town.
An enjoyable socially distanced dinner at the Swallowtail Restaurant in the marina completed the day.
Sunday was spent either exploring the town or relaxing onboard. In the evening the more energetic of the group walked into Burnham to enjoy an excellent curry. Here they are looking pleased with their adventure:
Monday saw us returning to Chatham to complete a very enjoyable cruise.
Of course due to the closure of Hammersmith Bridge we cannot return by water to our home berths on the non-tidal Thames but fortunately we have all found a safe haven in Chatham Marina to wait and see if the Hammersmith Bridge situation improves.
Here’s a few photos taken by members on the voyage down the Thames and back up the Medway to Chatham:
With new and established members of the club this is always a favourite trip. A short excursion down to Teddington, where we assemble before embarking on a short trip down to Hammersmith bridge and back.
Luckily for us Teddington lock had just returned to normal service on the 1st of July, so our planned trip on the 13-14th was able to go ahead.
Some of our members hadn’t previously ventured onto the tidal Thames, or were relatively new to boating, and we were all feeling “boating deprived” after the Covid-19 lock-down. So following relaxation of some of the restrictions, a group of us took our boats down to Teddington on the Monday afternoon and moored up ready for an early start the next day. Club boats Beatrice Rose, Breakers II, Enterprise, Purple Orchid, Sea Quest and Venture were joined by guests on Life of Sundays. Evening refreshments were enjoyed on the river bank in a socially distanced fashion, and then some of the party enjoyed a socially distanced dinner in the garden of the nearby Anglers pub, while others ate on board.
Unfortunately the vice commodore had to work that day, but was able to join us later and act as experienced crew for Sea Quest; similarly Martin from Breakers II had to stay behind while Emilia acted as crew on Purple Orchid.
We locked out at 7:30 on the Tuesday morning by prearrangement with the helpful lock keeper at Teddington. As there were so many of us we split into two groups with Enterprise taking the lead and Venture bringing up the rear. Our schedule was planned to take advantage of free-flow through the Richmond lock and weir.
Checking the headway gauge at Chiswick Eyot for Hammersmith Bridge showed headway of 4.8 metres, so as planned we all had plenty of space. After passing through Hammersmith Bridge we proceed down to Harrod’s repository, then retraced our route back to Teddington, apart from Beatrice Rose who carried on to Chatham. Once back at Teddington we moored up again and enjoyed mid-morning refreshments before returning to our home berths.
Glad to be back out an' about; emergin' from lockdown wiv a bit of swashbuckling pirate activity. Suitably attired and with dinghies at the ready.... let the fun commence.
The 4th July, it was, so we held a mini Boston Tea Party - yes tea was deposited in the marina -
Even attacked by a marauding party from London River, who it seems were checking the grog at Penton Hook Yacht Club!
Fabulous day with Picnic lunch and drinks, socially distanced of course, and more revelry in the evening at the Penton Hook Yacht Club.
<more pics to follow>
Who knew Fitting Out could be such fun!
Having only picked up Mojito at the end of last season, and with Nick having had major surgery since then, and Covid lock-down, we have not really had time to settle into her.
She was pretty clean when we got her, at the end of last season, so I just did a quick clean upstairs and a proper clean inside, but now she needed fitting out.
She came with a new soft-top canopy cover that we decided to fit for the new season and to take the old one home for cleaning and repair.
Well, what a game that was - it was like it was the wrong size!
"It's only a few clips ...."
Well, seven hours later, and having had to go and buy an extension lead, so I could hold the hair drier on the zippers that go over the running poles while Nick tries to stretch the plastic, so the zipper ends can be connected. In the end we gave up with them only being half done, and one of the zip pulls snapped off in his hand!
For the next two days Nick's hands were virtually unmovable and my arms were aching. :-(
It's a really hot day and Nick is able to do the zips up the rest of the way with ease, phew!
I decide we need to strip the whole of the cruising deck out and wash her all down, we also remove the winter canopies and put the summer ones on that was easy.
We are right at the far end of the pontoon with only three boats after us, so I spread everything all over it as there was no one else there and after I’d finished hosing, scrubbing and rinsing, I left Nick to finish the buffing off while I scrubbed the winter canopies.
We were both very tired after this and hot so we went downstairs for a short rest a drink and a cool down. While we were chilling I could hear pigeons, yes pigeons!, cooing so I went out for a look and it appears that we now have his and hers pigeon lofts (new Covid pets how lovely!). It seems that the inset engine air-vents on the sides are perfect for them, so now we need to come up with something ingenious to keep them out while still being able to air to the engines!
Also the boat owner across from us had turned up and I have most of the pontoon blocked with seat cushions, drying canopies, two camping chairs that I accidentally got wet and a new dingy warming up in the sun, waiting to be inflated….
“Oh I’m so sorry I cried, I’ll get it all moved”
“No problem, you didn’t know I would be turning up.” he said.
Phew I didn’t want to go upsetting my new boating neighbour.
We had a few short chats with him before he left and he seems very nice, he has a fifty year old wooden boat called Callina. I hope we’ll get to know him better in the coming days/weeks.
Wiping down the seat cushions and getting them back in the right places is like playing Giant Jenga, but we got there.
But the best fun was the new dinghy, which got put back on the boat without inflating it last time, as we ran out of time and were too tired to do any more. So I lay it out to let it warm in the sun then start inflating it - all very nicely - but when I disconnect the pump it goes down again! Turns out I've not put the valve in the correct position!
Lesson learnt, carry on...
It came with a PSI gauge but we don’t have the instructions with us, so I stop and download the manual but I’m unsure of the length so I ask Nick and he tells me a size that’s not in the manual. So I go back to look at the dingy only to find the detail and PSI is written on it, doh!
So I start re-inflating it but I can’t reach the PSI it says 0.25 I can only get it to 0.2 and Nick says to leave it at that as it’s firm enough but then I realise that I’ve not put the bench seat on and when I try to do it it’s evident that this needs to be done with it deflated!
I let it down again, reattach the seat and reinflate it - again- Happy days!
Nick’s attached the dinghy cradle during this time but now realises that he has no straps to secure it and we want to go out, so he removes it again and we put the dinghy in the marina in a free space while we go out down the Medway.
We have a great trip, with Mojito performing well, the water flat calm and sun shining brightly. We drop anchor in a small inlet to have lunch, then continue on to Garrison Point at the mouth of the Medway before turning to head back to Chatham.
We go to bring the dinghy back in and Nick grabs it by the seat and which comes off so now it needs to be deflated to reattach it!!!!!
Talk about Dumb and Dumber do dingy inflation!
We deflate it, dump it in the back of the boat and head home for a cool bath a big meal and an early night.
I can’t help thinking to myself where’s that old dingy, I loved it, it didn’t need replacing!
The next day my right knee and hip felt like they were someone else’s, I wish they were, and Nick’s hands were nearly as bad as they were after our first visit.
Happy days..... It’s great to be back on the water again though.
Get a boat they said, it’ll be fun they said!
dinghy Remembering, fondly, one of our social events from last year - So while I reminisce "ears 'oping" that we might be able to do the like again soon....
As one of our programmed events in the summer of 2019, we had arranged to spend the weekend, as a club at Penton Hook Marina, to meet and socialise - it would be a Pirate themed weekend.
We had planned a Treasure Hunt, and BBQ, and at the club monthly meeting before the Pirate Weekend our I suggested that we hold a dinghy race, including fights with water pistols, super soakers, etc. It was met with a few laughs, and then nods and then a raft of enthusiasm.
So, on the Friday evening, we congregated for a few drinks and had a great meal at Penton Hook Yacht Club, before retiring to our respective boats in preparation for "tha 'morrow, ooh argh".
The following morning we decorated the BBQ area, which had been kindly reserved for us by MDL, with pirate bunting, etc. Then we all met up at the lake area in our dinghies where the fun would begin.
Lots of laughter, and cheeky banter ensued. Being a very warm day getting soaked did not matter and a couple of hours passed by very quickly I would like to thank everyone who took part dressing up including decorating their dinghy's with flags.
Afterwards Commodore set teams off to hunt for lost treasure, before we all got together for a BBQ lunch, and some homemade Pirate Punch - that the Commodore made after emptying her drinks cabinet of every bottle that had low quantity within, it tasted wonderful and it certainly had a Punch ... As a few of us can attest from sore heads the following morning!
I would like to thank MDL Penton Hook Marina management for allowing us to host the party there and also giving the visiting boats moorings at a very reduced rate, and to our Albany members who attended who made the weekend a lot of fun.
I had a prize as the winning member of the dinghy race, but as it was so much fun the chocolates were spread around.
"ears oping we can get aboard again soon for some more frollicking good fun!"
Well the boredom had set in fully, those lingering jobs and the decorating all complete...., sitting looking out the window wishing I was on my boat, but having to maintain social distancing of course our marina's are all closed!
So I started thinking about other constructive things to do... No Facebook is not really constructive... I know the outboard needs a service and a quick run, but how...?
I have the outboard & petrol, but what about coolant - can't run it without water...?
No, the wheelie bin gets collected later this week, so that's not an option, no large buckets, I know what about the cool box!
Well I can confirm that it works, with careful control of the throttle - too much and everything, and everyone gets a free shower.... :-)
Well we might not be able to zoom about in our boats, but at least we can all still Zoom together - Other conferencing apps are available!
Since we were not able to gather at our usual location, the Dittons Skiff and Punting Club, we decided to initiate an online virtual meeting. It seems to have become all the rage!
We had around 20 members join us online for the evening, where of course we lamented not being able to get out on the water, shared disappointment over the trips that we were not able to take, etc.
But of course everyone agreed that this short period of ‘social distancing’ is indeed necessary.
Even though we are unable to get out on the water, we still had a brief update and review of some of the information provided by local marinas, EA, ATYC, and River User Groups. It would appear that even if we could get on the water our ability to traverse the Thames would be rather limited due to broken locks, fallen trees and sunken boats...
We reviewed our program of events for the year and made some tentative plans to ensure that once the waters are again available we will make the most of whatever portion of the season remains.
Everyone agreed that we should start with some leisurely non-tidal cruises on the Thames, to check the boats were all in good order, but we also tentatively planned a brief cruise down to Chatham and across to the East coast in August, if indeed we are once more permitted to travel.
We continue to socialise albeit through our weekly ‘virtual dinners’, these are at 6 o’clock every Friday, members are welcome if they wish to join us.
On top of the recent appalling weather we now have Covid-19 to deal with - our plan for 2020 has gone completely out of the window; trips to Chatham, Easter Cruise, Association of Little Ships return to Dunkirk all Cancelled!
We, like you, can do no more that sit indoors looking at what was to have been a great programme of events [See our Events page] hoping that we might at least be able to reschedule or salvage some toward the end of the summer.
After getting together early in the year and preparing a plan for 2020 we sit waiting for the weather to improve, but no sign of that happening any time soon :-(
The Environment Agency for the Thames has Red Boards from top to bottom. Meaning it's unsafe to venture out on the river, and we should note it may well invalidate your insurance should you choose to ignore the boards as well as the possibility of your needing to be rescued from a weir or lock and therefore potentially placing other people in danger. So please take the warnings seriously, be patient we will have better weather soon. I hope!
Meanwhile take the time to clean, sort and prepare your boat so you can take best advantage as soon as the river is clear to use.