After a long stay on the upper section of England’s River Thames, we at last headed downstream. When we pulled in our ropes at Thames & Kennet Marina it marked the beginning of our passage to France and the next phase of our life aboard Wanderlust.
Over five days we moved slowly downriver from T & K. Eventually we reached the end of non-tidal portion of the Thames in Teddington. Teddington marks the upper extreme of navigable river’s tidal influence. By transitioning through Teddington’s complex of locks we experienced for the first time the influence of the sea that we’d soon be crossing. As the lower gate of Teddington’s lock opened it signaled the start of the next phase of our life aboard Wanderlust. There would be, for now, no going back.
Boats going to London leave Teddington near high tide to take advantage of the push of the receding waters for the trip down the tideway. Near high water, the upper portion of the tidal Thames, still relatively narrow and river-like, is not so different than non-tidal section we had lived on for months. Further down the tideway, the river’s path widens and the intensity of urban London builds along the banks. After a few hours, Wanderlust was in Central London cruising past the city’s landmarks and under it’s iconic bridges. It is an odd, unforgettable feeling taking your home under the Tower Bridge!
We stopped just past the Tower Bridge and moored amongst the tall masts of the old sailing barges at Hermitage Community Moorings. HCM is directly on River Thames. Attached to Hermitage’s pontoon there is no protection from the wakes of the heavy passing boats that, more often than not, speed past faster than they are supposed to. It means that there is serious rocking and rolling inside our home as the waves snap Wanderlust’s mooring ropes to the edge of their breaking point. The turbulence at HCM is an annoyance for sure; it is the price you pay for such an ideally situated mooring.
The tides below the Tower Bridge are dramatic. During the course of the day Wanderlust can rise and fall more than 25 feet. In the midst of the ebb, the flow out of the city towards the Channel can be impressively powerful. Each receding tide reminds us that soon those waters will be pushing us out to sea and onto a new life in France.
A special thanks goes out to a Barge Association friend Charlie who came on board to help us navigate through London’s busy river traffic. Charlie also helped us find a spot at Hermitage that let us stay in London.