A flat-bottomed barge such as Wanderlust needs to find favorable conditions to cross the English Channel. Some barges cross at the first opportunity; others must wait until the winds and waves calm so that they can make the crossing. Wanderlust’s Channel crossing plans fit into the later category. As the date of our planned crossing approached, the winds increased and the waves built. According to the forecasts, the weather would not improve for days. For the time being, we would be stuck on the English side of the Channel. But at least we were in London, assuming we could find a place to tie our barge up.
The original plans were to depart directly for the Channel from Hermitage Community Moorings at the end of our two-week mooring arrangement. Hermitage is located on the Thames proper, just downstream of the Tower Bridge. With no lock to cross, HCM is an ideal London staging point for the Channel crossing. But now we were at the end of our Hermitage time. With the unfavorable weather, we needed to quickly find another place to moor Wanderlust. The nearest place to HCM and the first place we called was St. Katherines Dock.
Ideally located near the Tower of London, St. Katherines Dock had all along been our first choice for a London mooring. For more than a year, we’d been trying unsuccessfully to get a reservation for Wanderlust at St. Kats. Ultimately we settled for HCM. And when the weather delayed our crossing and we needed another place to moor, we had little hope that St. Kats would let us in. Nevertheless we rang them up and asked one more time if we could stay. Surprisingly, St. Kats said yes, we could stay until the Channel weather slackened. So at the next high tide we untied Wanderlust from Hermitage’s pontoon and moved her the short distance up the rocking waves of the Thames. Once through the tide lock, we were in the calm waters and safe haven of historic St. Katherines Dock.
Now we had to wait for the weather. Until the Channel winds dropped we’d be trapped in London. Fortunately, staying at St. Katherines Dock is hardly a hardship. St. Kats is prime London real estate. We can only hope that we get stuck like this more often.