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Old 02-12-2006, 12:15   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Southern California
Boat: Amel 54 Callisto
Posts: 6
Thames Estuary

Does anyone have any experience with navigating the Thames Estuary?
I am planning a passage from La Rochelle, France to St. Katherine's Dock, London next summer. Any local knowledge or other useful information would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 03-12-2006, 02:57   #2
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Location: Pune, India
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its pretty busy there. Altough i did not go all the way up to London, i crossed the Thames.
You should not have any problem with a lot of traffic, but since you already crossed the english channel that should not be an issue.
What is helpful ist to submit a CG66 form in advance:

This lets the Coastguard know everything about your vessel and its equipment. Sailors work very closely with the CG and they are absolutly professional and helpful in any way.
The record will stay there for years and in case you have any problem they are always happy to know the safety-features of your vessel and they will also ships you some additional safetymaterial for free.

Since you are coming from France Tidal-Calculations are also a "no-brainer" for you. If you then have radar and know how to use it and maybe even AIS it makes things more easy.

I recommend the Reeds Oki-Almanac and the usual Imray charts for this area.
If you are cruising there for a while, i would go up the river from Harwich to Ipswich on the river stour. You can see a big container-harbour and then in Ipswich you are in the marina in the Town-Center.
Further up north it is good for sailing, but not to many nice harbours and also quite some miles apart.

Anyway, have fun


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Old 20-12-2006, 14:38   #3
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London moorings

Aha! Something I can make a useful contribution to (already!)

An alternative to St. Katherines Dock is Limehouse Basin, it's quite a lot cheaper

If I read your profile right that you've got a 54' boat then the compartives prices are ...

St. Katherines:

51.15 a day
254.93 for 7 days
761.48 for a week to a month


20 a day
198 a week
432.30 a month

Limehouse is a bit further down river (just upstream of London Docklands) and perhaps not quite as posh as St. Katherines but it's a short ride on the DLR / Underground at very little cost into central London

Limehouse is operated by British Waterways, and can be contacted on VHF channel 80 callsign "Limehouse Marina". Lock opening times vary but in general terms the lock is open 08:00 to 18:00 in the summer and 08:00 until 16:00 in the summer with out of hours locking in or out by prior arrangement.

Recreational Users Guide > Advice > Recreational Users

is the Port of London Authorities guidance for pleasure craft entering the London River (as it used to be known in days of yore!)

As Michael rightly says, this is a very busy place and despite the decline of the docks in the upper reaches and their conversion into yuppy land, there's still a lot of commercial traffic on the river, especially into and out of Tilbury Docks and there's a lot of barge tows (most of Londons rubbish goes downriver on barges to Essex) plus waterbus services (and they don't hang about!)

Gotta be worth the effort though 'cos London has a lot to offer the visitor. If the train fare wasn't so damned expensive (driving into London is not my idea of fun and I hate coach travel!) we'd be "down the smoke" a lot more often as we're only 70 miles away (still costs over a hundred quid for two adult returns from our nearest rail station It's cheaper to drive 20 miles to another line and operator and go from there which is what we'll be doing for the London Boat Show in a coupla months time)

Hope the above is of some help - if I can help further let me know (it'd be nice to earn some brownie points up front 'cos I'm gonna be asking a shed load of questions as we get our cruising plans off the ground!!!!)
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Old 24-01-2007, 10:30   #4
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Location: Winters: UK, Southampton. Summers, Greece, Finikounda.
Boat: Oyster 406, 12.3m, RAPAZ
Posts: 39
I don't know how well you know the coasts from La Rochelle (lovely spot) to the Solent, but there's a broad brush description of the coasts on my website: JimB's sail Europe which may be of some use.

East of the Solent/Cherbourg is not a very pleasant cruising area - extremely heavy commercial traffic, both along the very busy TSS (avoid!) and across them (ferry traffic).

For the Thames estuary itself, make sure your chart corrections are up to date. The sands do shift from time to time, and the marks with them.

I'll join the recommendation to consider Limehouse. Among other things, the Cruising Association has its headquarters there, with a world class (and world wide) library of charts, pilot books and historic books on nautical subjects. Check it out for temporary membership - Cruising Association Home Page

St Katharine's is prettier though, two light railway stops nearer the centre of London, and very close to the Tower of London if you want to 'hang' out there - among the ghosts of highwaymen and princes of the past.

JimB's sail Europe
Comparing the cruise areas of Europe
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