Spring Sightings on The Tideway
Good news! Nelson’s back on his plinth at the Trafalgar Tavern, looking very trim again.
At this time of the year one can spot both old and newcomers venturing forth for their first cruise of the new season. A couple of natty gents on board a brand new slick cruiser which, I am sure, was a new purchase perhaps from January’s boat show (now down at Excel in the Royal Docks) motored with caution and anticipation.
Likewise a trim apple green narrow boat came up on a flood tide but, alas, a sudden engine failure caught them in a very awkward position just off Island Gardens.
The quick-thinking mate located the stowed away anchor and tossed it into the shallows, breaking their headlong passage just before she entered the busy waters around Greenwich Pier. I felt very anxious for them in their awkward plight, which has caught out so many of us on similar ventures.
However, a trio of naval patrol craft looked very much in control, often crewed by university cadets who gather up on the bridge with commanding views which enable a clear vision of the busy reaches ahead before they go alongside the pier at HMS President – a naval base in the lower Pool. It’s good to see youngsters under instruction – our local maritime centre at Deptford is again busy with teenagers on the tideway, sailing various one designs under the watchful eye of the Ahoy-based instructors. Likewise, the Trafalgar Rowing Centre next door to us is alive with activity. It’s great to see the happy and energetic youngsters training for the season ahead. I wonder how many aspire to the Olympic glories which were competed for at the Dorny purpose-built course up beyond Windsor. Many train at the Royal Docks which has purpose-built facilities alongside the City Airport runway.
A new welcome is extended to the Sunborn London Super Yacht Hotel returning to a berth at Royal Victoria Docks. She is a luxurious cruise liner without engines, providing comfortable, smart accommodation moored next to the Excel Exhibition and Conference Centre. It must be over ten years since I was entertained to lunch and a tour of the ship, which was fascinating as one felt one was out at sea; a splendid maritime venue for a romantic celebration for those who can’t cope with the pitch and roll of a North Sea passage.
I can report these happenings courtesy of the Metro newssheet scooped up at North Greenwich Station.
A new business reception centre is under construction just there alongside the station as well as a giant hotel. Its concrete lift shafts will soon be higher than the O2, not dissimilar to the Berkley Home development being next to the South Bank’s City Hall.
The TV commentators’ favourite eerie is threatened – I wonder how Mayor Boris will cope with this!! Surprise surprise, further alarming news of more high rise monsters on the peninsula and at Convoys at Deptford which I will report in due course.
As I put this to bed after the excitement of the Boat Race, the Harbour Master’s men speed back to Denton near Gravesend after their anxious watch off Putney. Fortunately no pirate swimmers this year, just the usual unfortunate clash of oars!
Venturing forth at dusk to the nearby Greenwich Maritime Institute just a few yards upstream in the Old Royal Naval College, I entered the hallowed halls to hear about their latest project. The presentation was well attended and well received by a host of river folk recognised as past members of the London Rivers Association which, alas, fizzled out a few years ago. The failed forum based in Greenwich Market provided a most useful platform for riparian concerns but no doubt was an irritant to the powers that be that had to fund it. The LRA meetings were held up and down the river and provided an opportunity for the river community to keep apace of the dramatic changes planned for the tideway. Various speakers aired their reactions to some extraordinary proposals which would affect residential, sporting and commercial interests – a truly democratic and educational forum. Let’s hope that this new enterprise will be of use to one and all who care!