Thames Report 1 (Part 2)

Report and pictures by Martin Longhurst

Go back to Part 1

Saturday was Clacton day with the steamer departing from her London base at 09.00 for deepest Essex.

Car carrier Asian Wind and the Russian tall ship Nadezhda at Tilbury

However, the nearer resort of Southend was a more popular destination, with a great drop of passengers after her call there. Dead Slow was ordered to pass through the Swin Spitway Channel, a narrow, shallow link across a sand bank that nearly dries out at low water.
The steamer made a good approach to the pier despite the best efforts of the wind and tide to push her away. Although the stern line with landed successfully, the bow line fell short. By the time the stern line was secure on the pier, the bow had drifted well away so the deck crew had to run the heaving line aft all the way to the rear of the starboard sponson. Meanwhile Captain Lee had manoeuvred the steamer to bring the stern as close as possible to the corner of the pier. From this position Chief Officer Luke Davies was able to land the heaving line and the rope handlers carried it along the pier to the correct bollard. Finally the ship could be hauled alongside the landing stage, allowing passengers to go ashore for about an hour.

Waverley tied up at Clacton Pier

On the return passage 290 passengers from Clacton joined the steamer for the single trip to London with coach return.

Waverley's funnels stand out as she lies at Tower Pier

Tug Revenge waits to perform her turning duty

A rendez-vous with the Kingswear Castle was the objective for Sunday's cruise, which left Tower Pier at the more civilised hour of 10.30 for calls at Tilbury and Southend. Again Southend was the most popular destination with a great exchange of passengers on and off.

Waverley sped up the River Medway and first met the smaller paddler off Chatham Bull Nose (the twin locks at the entrance to Chatham Docks). This was just a steam-past - the steamer parade was to come later.

Waverley continued up stream to turn off the three dry-docks at the Historic Dockyard, assisted by the tug Horton.

The dry-docks are now home to the naval sloop Gannet (centre), the submarine Ocelot and the frigate Cavalier, which are major exhibits at the Dockyard.

Heading out to sea again, the KC was spotted turning in Chatham Reach to parallel the Waverley's outbound course. Soon we drew alongside with KC to starboard headed through some shallower water outside the buoyed channel and the first of many whistle blasts were exchanged.

Then the KC dropped back and went to port to steam up Waverley's other side.

Three long blasts by each ship signified the end of the parade as Captain Lee rang Full Ahead and the Waverley left the KC in her wake.

Arrival at The Tower coincided with slack water, so Waverley could be swung between the Pier and Bridge

Steam from Waverley's whistle is caught in the floodlights

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