The boats cruised from the Paddington Arm through the colourful sights of East London (including passing Mike Wood’s primary school – still there after all these years !!) and assembled at Limehouse Basin.  The Tideway cruise, especially arranged for the 10th Anniversary of the 4 C’s with an open invitation to any attending Little Venice boats, was being led by Andrew Phasey of St Pancras Cruising Club.  All crews duly attended the very informative safety and organisational briefing – a special mention was made of the very large cruise ships anchorage buoys, which are reckoned to be magnetic – so stay well clear – it’s not known for sure whether a little paint was left by a 4Cs boat on one buoy, but if it was, they’ll deny it.   All fully briefed and clutching various navigation handouts, there followed an enjoyable meal, drinks and merriment – but early to bed for the long day of cruising for the next day.

With Andrew leading the flotilla on his boat ‘Doris Katia’, there was a prompt 08:30 start at Limehouse Lock for the lead group of 4 boats.  There followed locks of 3/4 boats until a total of 16 had passed onto the river.  Heading east on the last of the ebb tide, the first task on the river was to cross from the left channel to the right, carefully, between any commercial traffic.  The main traffic encountered were the large Uber Clipper passenger boats, together with RIB thrill-ride boats.  These boats created a wash that a narrowboat needs to manoeuvre to straddle, otherwise the flat-bottomed hulls will roll around !!

Thames Flood Barrier, allocated opening

First milestone of the day was passing through The Thames Flood Barrier. This necessitated a radio-call from each lock-group to Barrier Control for permission to go through the advised opening.  Then there was negotiating the Woolwich Ferry “Dame Vera Lynn” crossing, several more radio calls required, the ferry was very co-operative.  After cruising a bit further to Margaretness / Barking Creek Barrier to stem the last of ebb tide, all boats came together for the start of the flood tide and passage west through London to Teddington Lock.

2022 WoolwichFerry 1

Woolwich Ferry, Dame Vera Lynn – dwarfing narrowboat !!


2022 Thames TowerBridge 1

Not your usual river traffic, 19 narrowboats !!


The first river crossing encountered was the iconic Tower Bridge, unfortunately we had to pass under the side arch as the lifting centre spans were allotted for the now busier commercial boat traffic.

 Beyond Tower Bridge the Pool of London was hectic, where our line of boats had to accommodate the Uber Clipper boats coming on and off their docking stations, restaurant boats coming and going, large tug pushed freight barges and river police boats.  Bridge after bridge and sight after sight (keeping out of the Houses of Parliament security exclusion zone !!) we slowly progressed west, the flood tide just in front to give the required depth of water. Further to the west, the commercial traffic gave way to sporting with several active rowing clubs in the vicinity of the ‘boat race’ course.

Arriving at Richmond the tide had sufficient height so that the weir was removed, allowing the flotilla to freely pass through. Then onto our destination of Teddington Lock and passage onto the non-tidal Thames, with our number of boats the ‘large barge’ lock was used.


The end of a long memorable day, a great boating experience, and on to the next adventure.