Log#12l Portsmouth & Southampton Boat Show

October 31, 1999 in Log Series 11 - 19, Logs by Series, Series 12 England, S&E coast rivers, The Logs

Limehouse Basin, London
Oct. 31/99

Hi Folks,

This will be the second log you  will probably get today, as I will be sending out Log #12k and #12l at the same time. However, you may not get anything for a few weeks as we will be travelling to Munich, Vienna, and Paris before returning to London.

Today we stopped off at Westminster, intending to see Westminster Abbey, but discovered there was still a Thames ferry running all the way up to Hampton Court. We thought it had been discontinued as of the end of Sept. but found out it was still in service, but today was its last run until next May. So, off we went for a lovely cruise up the Thames past two locks and above the tidal section for a four hour cruise one way. It was a lovely crisp sunny fall day. The Thames is laden with history. Further up there are other palaces, but also game reserves and bird sanctuaries. We haven’t seen so many herons since coming down the TenTom Waterway parallel to the Mississippi River. Hampton Court Palace will have to wait for another day, as we did not get there until closing time, and it will be worth a full day’s visit later.

Clocks were set back an hour last night to standard time, and Halloween has been sporadically recognised, although several organizations including some churches are against it. We will be away Nov. 5 for Guy Fawkes Day. We also saw the Millenium Eye, a large ferris wheel, fully erected, but only a few gondolas are attached so far. I took a good picture of the new Eye with the old Big Ben in the foreground. London is an impressive town.

Take care.


Log#12l Portsmouth & Southampton Boat Show
Written at Limehouse Basin
Covers the period Sept. 13 to 17

Haslar Marina in Gosport has a former lightship, called Mary Mouse, painted green, on the outer wall near our slip. It had a bar/restaurant, meeting rooms, excellent showers and washrooms and a laundromat. We had to walk around the floating docks, a distance of about 400 yards, to get to the marina office. They were co-operative, and even provided facilities for me to send off E-mail.

This part of Britain is the yachties’ paradise, with large racing yachts and charter fleets participating in a constant variety of local races in the Solent, around the Isle of Wight and longer around Britain and even around the world. The yachts were well equipped, and the participants dressed up in the latest style foul weather gear, colour co-ordinated of course. Charter companies rent out fleets of racing yachts to groups and organizations for sailing activities from “learn to sail”, and adventure training/vacations, to international yacht races sponsored by big name firms. One day I counted over 25 yachts from 32 to 40 feet in length chartered by National Power, the major electricity provider in the U.K. We saw six 45 to 50 foot yachts for the Millenium Around the World Race, practicing and preparing for this event near the New Year. Quite a bit different from the boats we saw in Falmouth or up the east coast rivers!

We contacted XW Rigging located across the road from the marina to come and replace the broken steering cable. They were not able to come until the next day as they were tied up with their display at the Southampton Boat show. They did a good job and the steering is operational again.

Beside the marina across a small bridge we visited HMS Dolphin, the former submarine training base, which is now a submarine museum. It had a good display of submarine and torpedo development as well as a post WW II submarine, HMS Alliance, to tour through, as well as other displays and a submarine memorial. We noted this sub, though older, was more spacious than the Oberon class boats Canada has been using up to now. When talking with the submariner conducting the tour, he agreed that newer boats are more cramped except for the nuclear ones, as more and more equipment is stuffed into their hulls. The new Upholder class of four subs that Canada is getting from the RN are also cramped. The Brits had just developed and deployed these new ultra-quiet conventionally powered subs when the decision was made to go all nuclear, and thus these subs of the latest design were made available to Canada for a very economical arrangement. Even then, our Liberal government took a lot of persuading to accept the deal. However, Canada is still in the submarine business, albeit on a modest scale.

We took the local ferry across to Portsmouth to visit the Royal Navy Dockyards. The feelings I had were akin to reverence as we visited Nelson’s flagship HMS VICTORY, the Mary Rose, the recovered wreck of a medieval warship from the reign of Henry VIII being restored, and walked around the impressive maintenance buildings and museums of the dockyard. We didn’t have enough time in two days to see it all, and plan to go back by coach from London later this winter to see the WARRIOR and more museums there.

Another day we went by coach to see the Southampton Boat Show. We didn’t plan to buy much, and had no major purchases to get, but still managaed to spend a fair amount. It was a good show, larger than the Toronto Boat show, and spread out through several pavillions, outdoor displays and a couple of hundred in-water slips with new and used boats afloat to board. We came away, not impressed with the layouts of the new boats and with a thankful confirmation of the layout, comfort and quality of our 22 year old Veleda.

The day we were ready to leave Haslar we met Russ and Lynn from Blue Highway who had just come in. We hadn’t seen them since Horta in the Azores. They went up to Ireland and were now making their way to London where they plan to stay at the St. Katherine Docks, not far from Limehouse Basin where we are. We said we would probably see them enroute as we would be heading back up that way after going to Cowes and the Isle of Wight for a couple of days. We left about 1400 on the 17th and went up the harbour first to see what RN ships were in port. We saw several frigates and destroyers, including HMS YORK! For many years I was attached to the naval reserve division in Toronto, HMCS YORK. There were supply and replenishment ships, and HMS INVINCIBLE,an aircraft carrier, was in dry dock.

On our way out, we heard Glenlyon calling the harbour radio for mooring information. We hadn’t seen them since Horta either. Then as we proceeded outbound we saw them and directed them to an empty mooring buoy near some mothballed ships. They too were headed up to London.

As we exited the harbour the wind was blowing gale force and we debated going back into Haslar Marina. However we only had 10 or 12 miles to go across Spithead to the Medina River and Cowes on the Isle of Wight, so we motored into the teeth of a 30 knot wind. We had to keep a sharp lookout not only for the large merchant ships going up channel to Southampton, but especially for the fast catamaran ferries bombing back and forth at 20 and 30 knots. We made it to Cowes with no problems, and went up the Medina River to some pontoons about six miles up at the Folly Inn. This was a nice quiet pontoon costing only six pounds per night as opposed to the standard 18 pounds at marinas.