It is difficult to find a short term mooring in London for a barge the size of Wanderlust. Most of London’s temporary moorings are geared either to smaller boats or larger full-time residential boats. We were caught in the middle with few reasonable options. Our search ultimately led us to Hermitage Community Moorings, located on the Thames just downstream of the Tower Bridge.
HCM is a co-operative mooring constructed at Hermitage Wharf, Wapping. Hermitage is the residential home to 20 historic vessels. Amongst the residential barges are two visitor berths for passing boats. An “historic” vessel, as defined by HCM, must be older than Hermitage’s first boat Rock. Rock is a Medway Cruiser that was built in 1961. Fortunately for us, there is no age requirement for a visiting boat. Wanderlust, just about a year old at the time, was allowed to moor at Hermitage Community Mooring for two weeks or less.
Arriving at HCM’s pontoons near high tide was exciting. The waves from the passing river traffic rocked and rolled Wanderlust as we moved down the river. Just before we turned upstream into the strong current, Charlie, who had helped us down the river from Teddington, told us to ready our longest ropes.
Reaching the mooring, the long ropes were deployed as springs with the stern and bow lines attached diagonally to the pontoon cleats like this. It did not take long for the benefit of this arrangement to become clear. As the wakes from the passing boats on the Thames rocked Wanderlust, she pulled hard fore and aft against her lines snapping them tight. When Wanderlust reached the end of her ropes, the lines stretched and the shock of the deceleration was cushioned. Working together, the long ropes functioned as springs. A longer rope means more stretch and thus a better the spring.
On the calm non-tidal portion of the Thames, we never had need for serious mooring springs. Mooring at HCM became our class in how we needed to tie up on a busy commercial waterway. The experience we gained using springs at Hermitage later proved to be invaluable on the commercial waterways in France.
With a full view of the Tower Bridge, Hermitage Community Moorings has an exceptional location. It is very convenient to the City and the Underground. The downside, as might be imagined, is the rough water on this stretch of the Thames. Particularly near high tide, Wanderlust, even at 40 t, was tossed about by the wakes of the fast passing boats. Though we adjusted to the constant rocking, it was always at least a little unpleasant on board when the river traffic was heavy. Fortunately with just a few boats passing at night there was only gentle rocking during sleep time. At Hermitage, the great location comes with a price.