At 18.00 on Wednesday 13th June Eilean was hoisted clear of the deck of the Sampogracht to be back in British waters for the first time in over 25 years. We spent 3 days on the Hamble preparing her for the delivery east to London, and waited an extra 24 hours to let some gale force winds through.
We left the safety of the river at 23.00 on Saturday 16th June, made our way out of the Solents northern channel and we were positioned just south of the rocky Owers by low water. We then had a safe passage along the south coast with around a knot of current helping us on our way.
During the middle of the afternoon we passed the white cliffs of Dover and sailed into the busy Thames Estuary. Navigational hazards everywhere – buoys, banks, windfarms, container ships and the eye-catching East Goodwin Lightship.
Sea Reach 1 marks the beginning of the Thames, which we saw as the sun began to set, and with 25 miles to motor upriver the next few hours made for some interesting and busy navigating.
Even at night the Thames Barrier was a wonderful site to behold, the green arrow showing which side to pass one of the illuminated control towers.
At 01.00 on Sunday morning we anchored off the West India Dock under the lights of the Millenium Dome.
First thing in the morning we entered the lock and shortly after berthed alongside in South Quay.
A wonderful experience to ‘sail’ up the Thames to the very heart of London’s business district. Surrounded by countless waves of skyscrappered glass where millions are made and lost each day, one feels a little out of place, small, and random. I like to think of us as a gem from the sea amongst the pillars of the earth where even the arches of Tower Bridge make way for us.