Thames Report 2

Report and pictures by Martin Longhurst

The previous week's pattern was repeated as Monday 6 October 2003 was again off service alongside Tilbury Landing Stage. The shipping forecast for Tuesday for Sea Area Thames was for up to severe gale 9, so the likelihood of a sailing in open water was nil. Fortunately most of the day's schedule was planned to take place in sheltered waters. The start, however, was booked for Margate but the berth here, on the end of an unforgiving stone pier, is not usable in anything other than calm conditions.

Coaches were therefore organised to carry the 200 brave souls from Margate to join the paddler at Whitstable, where another good group were joining the ship. Across at Southend a further couple of hundreds embarked with a further influx at Tilbury. Waverley then steamed to the Upper Pool where she turned to sail back after the usual interval for the traffic to clear after the first lift of Tower Bridge. All passengers were coached home from Tilbury as timetabled.

Two container ships inbound while another leaves

Republica di Amalfi - note the deck cargo of coach bodies

So the paddler was in place ready for her 10.00 departure the following day for Southend, Clacton and round the Roughs Tower. After the 35 passengers had joined, Purser Jim MacFadzean announced that the Russian tall ship Nadezhda, which had been berthed at the Landing Stage for several days, would be leaving at the same time.

 Assisted by the tug Shorne, the Nadezhda actually slipped her moorings slightly ahead of time and sounded three long blasts in salute of Tilbury. Her cadets were drawn up in ranks on deck as a stirring martial song blared out on her loudspeakers. Waverley then let go her ropes and paddled off in pursuit.

As we passed her, the two ships exchanged three blast salutes.   For details of Nadezhda's Round the World voyage, visit   When we reached Southend, the Nadezhda was almost only a dot on the horizon as 56 more joined the ship.

From the Bridge In the Engine Room
The Boiler Room The Steering Flat


Clacton Pier

PSPS volunteer Stephen Burbridge hauls in the for'ard heaving line

Then off to Clacton for the main business of the day, an afternoon cruise leaving at 14.00. Frank Turner, the well-known expert on the Thames war-time forts, gave a talk in the forward observation lounge while the steamer headed for the Roughs Tower. This edifice is now known as the Principality of Sealand, having been occupied by Prince Roy (Bates) since 1969. For further details of this fascinating "foreign country" visit

 Having arrived at the Tower, Waverley circumnavigated it three times - "twice clockwise and once widdershins" declared Roddy McKee. The steamer's passenger business terminated back at Clacton at 16.30. While her Tilbury and Southend passengers headed home by coach, she headed north to Harwich for her overnight berth at Halfpenny Pier.

Go on to Part 2

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