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Sunday, April 20, 2014

London 2104: St. Katharine Dock and a Shout out to Molly in America

 "The Thames is liquid history." ~John Elliott Burns, English trade unionist, socialist politician and historian.

  We sauntered back across Tower Bridge at street level where I spotted this door, right. Why I wondered, does the Bridge Master require his own dining room built within the base of Tower Bridge and what does he dine on when he's in?
   We were going to go on home but Les spotted a large ocean going vessel of the dutch barge design with huge masts and furled sails moored up out in the Thames and I thought my barking feet could keep going long enough  for us to walk down and take some pictures. 
   Fortunate indeed was our decision to linger because the boat was waiting for the lock at St. Katharine Dock to allow the large sailing vessel--Ardwenna of London and several smaller cruisers--to come in. Les was totally in his element, thrilled at the site of the large masted ship gently inching her way in first and tying up carefully, the small plastic cruisers gingerly coming to a stop in single file beside the large wooden hull. 
   Both lock keepers were women which impressed me no end. I am of the age that remembers still when women weren't allowed to take on anything that was traditionally undertaken by men. Les asked the lock keepers scores of questions to which they answered with a smile while raising the outer lock wall to the Thames.
   The cost of mooring in this marina is not cheap. At £5.45 per meter per day it would cost us £95.00 a day to tie up here. NB Valerie is 17.5 meters long. One can also purchase a weekly, monthly or annual berth at £23.30, £70.00 and £560.00 per meter. We will let you do the math! 
   This is a non-residential marina which means one can come in and out of the marina with one's boat and one can visit it, but one cannot live aboard. There is also an additional charge for electricity. Water is available at every berth provided you bring your own hose. Mobile and fixed pump out for sewage is available upon request--and an additional charge. Surrounding the marina are VERY posh places to eat and shop, and facilities such as a washeteria (laundromat for Americans) and toilets. The boats and small ships moored in St. Katharine Dock Marina are worth many millions all together. This is yet one more way in which those with financial means and a yen for adventure can cross the Pond (the Atlantic) and visit Britain. As for me--there are no ships large enough for me to feel comfortable crossing an ocean. I will gladly stick to canals and rivers. 
It's hard to believe there might be any room in this lock for another boat...
...and yet the lock keeper managed to fit two cruisers in as well.

Les knows no strangers! He is chatting up the lock keeper about how the lock works as she waits for the dutch style barge to come inside. One can see Tower Bridge quite well. Across the river, the tall building in the background with the crane--just beyond the bridge--is Guy and St. Thomas Hospital. We are set to visit the south bank of the Thames and a fascinating glimpse into medicine's past on day three of our London visit.
The small plastic cruisers make haste to join the large barge in the lock.
   For those who know us well, you may remember the post I wrote on Tuesday, September 25th, 2012 title, "It's a Bird, It's a Plan--No It's a Hot Balloon and There's an American on Board!" Wherein Les was so gobsmacked and delirious at seeing hot air balloons floating low over NB Valerie that, when I wondered aloud if the second balloon would follow the path of the first, he honestly thought he was hearing the voice of an American on one of the Balloons!  I've extracted the urine many times over this bit of silliness as it made us hysterical with laughter.
   I have to say I was tempted, as I watched Les scamper with excitement up and down the lock side with camera in hand, to yell out in a muffled voice, "It's so different from mooring up in America," just to see if he was gullible enough to repeat the performance! Les was having so much fun--and it was a treat to see him happily engaged after all we've been through and still have ahead of us--so I chose to sit quietly and behave instead of attempting to take the piss out of him yet again.
The lock barrier on the Thames side begins to rise.
Finally the lock is full and even with the marina.
   St.Katharine Dock lock filled slowly and then the boaters on the small cruisers began poling flotsam and jetsam forward of their boats. A bright orange floating boom was thrown out to catch the garbage off the Thames. 
Boaters coming off the Thames wait while the lock keeper poles the rubbish to the front of the boats.
She pulls the orange boom across, catching the garbage which is pulled over to one side out of the way.

After the rubbish was caught up and pulled aside, the large red lift bridge across the marina entrance went up and the small cruisers exited first.

Ardwinna's tall sails and rigging inspire awe in a narrow boater!
 Finally the portly barge made its way slowly, pivoted out of the lock and gracefully pivoted once again to line up with a second blue lift bridge further on, by means of mooring ropes around giant bollards, hauled slowly by human hands. Then with a grace unbelievable for such a large vessel in a very crammed space, Ardwinna of London made slowly for the second lift bridge.
 Eventually she came to rest moored up near another of her kind at the far West Northwest side of the marina.
The blue bridge inside St. Katharine Docks Marina rising for the graceful masted ship.
Two similar boats wait for their sister ship. Xylonite left the marina once Ardwinna was moored up and the lock was allowed to fill for vessels going out on to the Thames.
This public art installation by Dale Devereaux Barker has greeted all who walk along St. Katharine Docks since 1998. DD Barker has an amazing portfolio of public exhibits and commissioned work.
Les in a hurry to enter St. Katharine Dock to see the sailing ships.

By the time the blue lift bridge was back down again we were on our way by bus back home to NB Valerie. With this third London post we ended our FIRST day in London! 
   I also want to take a moment to give a warm shout out to Molly in America--a transplanted Staffordshire "gel" who recently made our daughter Shiery's acquaintance and now follows our blog. Welcome along on our journey Molly!


Andy Gic said...

How prices have changed, we took a 33 foot cruiser from her berth on the upper Thames to St Kats for a weekend. Price was only £10 per night. .... it was 20 years ago.

Andy NB Festina Lente

KevinTOO said...

Sorry Jaq but a slight correction if you don't mind...

Across the river (at Tower Bridge) you can only see Guy's Hospital, Great Maze Pond, London SE1 9RT which is part of the Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.

You'll find St Thomas' Hospital at Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7EH which is directly across the river from the Houses of Parliament

Anonymous said...

Be kind to those small plastic cruisers ..our Anna Maru was home to us for eight years as we sailed north from SF to Puget Sound several times and up the inside passage to Glacier Bay National Monument. IK understand your love for those tall masted boats Les.
Pullman Karen still doing duty in CA.
Miss you folks.

Anonymous said...

Great photos...Almost like being there watching the lock and the bridges!


Anonymous said...

A couple of months ago I was working near St Katherine's Dock - so close I used the dock car park - but didn't have time to pop in for a look around. Thanks to your photos and blog I now realise what I missed! Maybe next time...


Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Andy,
Amazing how pricey all things concerned with the Capitol have become, which is why we are always thrilled to moor in Paddington for seven days for free and then move about London checking things out. I'll bet your cruise was glorious. The Thames is such an amazing river. I feel fortunate to have the chance to explore the area and cruise the rivers and canals.
Say hi to Sue for us!

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Kevin,
Thank you for the clarification. The NHS website confused me as does the fact Guy's hospital is also located in part on St. Thomas Street and complicated by Google maps description of said building as Guy's and St.Thomas Hospital Trust. We visited a treasure in the attic of Old St. Thomas Church related to old St. Thomas hsopital but located across the street from Guy's Hospital!
Sorry we missed you at Cassio bridge for MR's removal. We were moored up at Denham Deep on our way from London. We were going to try and make it up for the event but we have to pace ourselves due to Les' impending operation on Wednesday.

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Karen,
How big was Anna Maru? The cruisers in St. Katharine Dock which came over from America are quite big--not big enough for ME to cross the Atlantic though!
We miss you too Girlfriend and hope you will soon be clear to resume your vagabond life with Jim.
Love Jaq and LesXX

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Sally,
It truly is amazing how dense the London and Westminster city neighborhoods are, with history. Wait until you read the next few posts about our London 2014 adventures. We found some amazing old connections to America. Give Joe our love.

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Alistair,
London is such an amazing place. the only wa I can possible reconcile it all is to choose a section of the city by post codes, look further by Google Maps to see what is located in the area and then look for links and websites to those things. Still, just walking around we found things of amazing interest that are just "there," if you know what I mean. So much to see and so little time to see it all. It could take a really curious person several lifetimes to investigate London properly!!

KevinTOO said...

Jaq (& Les),
Please don't let that happen again in future, we could have arranged transport of the motorised 4 wheel type for you if only you had said... :(

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs