MTYC & Albany combined cruise to WEST India Dock August 2023
Our second event in August this year was a joint venture with Middle Thames Yacht Club, who had kindly invited us to join them for a cruise to West India Dock.
Six boats set out to join the cruise from Albany: Ginista, Enterprise, Laird Tommy, Blue Dimension, Lady Farrington and Manatees of Kent.
The six boats made their own way to the initial gathering point at Teddington Lock on Friday 25th August. Sadly, Chris and Sue, aboard Manateees of Kent, were unable to continue the trip as they suffered a fuel injector malfunction on one of her engines and had to return to PH. The remaining five boats from Albany joined up with eight more boats from MTYC.
Most of the crews attended a meeting on Friday evening in the Anglers pub for a meal and briefing, followed by an early night as the start time on Saturday was 0600.
Saturday dawned fine and the flotilla gathered in Teddington Lock, followed by a leisurely run to Richmond. We could not take advantage of the free flow window at Richmond as we were booked into W India dock at 10am. We thus all (bar 1 boat from MTYC) packed into the lock at Richmond (£11 per boat!!) We were already 40mins behind schedule by the time the lock gates opened to start the cruise proper. Russ and Mary aboard Blue Dimension were making their first trip onto the tidal Thames, and Nick (who, with Tracie, were guests aboard Ginista) had kindly agreed to crew with them and offer his considerable experience for the trip. The boats inevitably separated as the cruise progressed, with the faster boats arriving at W India around 1015, only to learn that the lift bridge would not be opened for us. As we were near HW, this meant the early arriving boats had to wait outside the dock until the tide dropped sufficiently to allow us to enter under the bridge. It did, however, allow time for the slower boats to arrive and all entered the lock around 1045am, followed by mooring within the (huge!) dock itself. Moorings are very secure, however, and there are (somewhat basic) toilet and shower facilities available. The rest of the day was whiled away with socialising. Crews did their own thing on the Saturday evening, most eating out in the local bars and restaurants. Tony and Sharon, together with Nick and Tracie and John and Geraldine made their way into town to meet up with Emilia for a meal followed by a theatre visit to see Grease (The Musical) at the Dominion Theatre. This proved to be quite an eventful experience as two rowdy couples seated immediately behind our group eventually had to be escorted from the theatre under arrest by the police (and as an indirect result of a complaint by John!) This delayed the second half of the show by half an hour. The fracas even made it onto Sky news, with showed a video clip in which our group can (just) be made out!
Sunday was a free day, and crews did their own thing, though most seemed to gravitate to the Trafalgar pub in Greenwich around lunchtime! We gathered back at the boats in time for a meal out in the nearby Indian restaurant, followed by a “pontoon party” organised by Mandy at which crews from both clubs mingled to enjoy (more!) food and drink. This finally broke up around midnight.
The return trip was less constrained by timings (though Chris and Tony pressed for an earlier start than had been in the original passage plan) and proved to be very enjoyable. The harbour master had booked a bridge-lift for 0930, so exiting the lock was straightforward. Albany boats led the way in very pleasant weather, with opportunities for photographs as we passed under Tower Bridge and again as we passed by the Houses of Parliament. With the aid of a 2-3 knot flood tide, we made the trip back to Teddington in very good time. Enterprise, Blue Dimension and Ginista paused at Teddington for a late lunch (and to allow honorary AMYC member Jasmine, the Italian Greyhound, off for a pee!) We then completed the journey back to Penton Hook, arriving around 7pm.
Many thanks are due to MTYC (especially Dennis) for the organisation and the original invitation.
As always, the greatest thanks are due to the members of Albany MYC who attended for their brilliant company.