Cruising the Thames

This three-masted barque passed us in the River Thames at the weekend. And made me ashamed that I was not sailing. Admittedly he had the west wind astern and was bound away down whereas it was bang on the nose for us bound up to St Katharine’s Dock hard by Tower Bridge.

We did have the tide with us, however, and although it was just a weak neap flood we could have tacked up at least to the Lower Hope where we would have enjoyed a slant into Gravesend Reach.

The winking green light on the corner of those two reaches – the Ovens buoy – reminded me of an old barge skipper who on another night many years ago was drifting athwart the river, on the flood having lost steerage way and was watching the Ovens light drawing closer and closer.

‘We could see the light. It was going in an arht, in an arht, in an arht. Then we ‘its it and it goes right arht,’ he recalled.

Fortunately on this occasion we missed it and enjoyed a late curry at Gravesend.