Escapees. 9th July

St Pancras Cruising Club to Limehouse Basin

Did someone say something about moving the outside!?!

Having stayed a day longer than we’d originally planned, today we’d be pushing off. Push isn’t the right way to say it, but I can’t think of a way to put ‘pull’ or ‘tug’ and ‘off’ together without it being rather rude!

Eeeking their way out

NB Chance were assisted out from beside us. Richard pushing the bow out as he walked along a neighbouring boats gunnel, then a throw rope was used from beside the dry dock to pull the bow right out, now engine power could be used to get them out of the basin and weed.

Next it was our turn. Heather came along to wish us well and ended up discovering how heavy Oleanna is whilst giving us a big push. I then had a go with a pole to get the bow a touch further out before a chap by the dry dock introduced himself as Simon, he threw me a rope which was tied off to the bow. He then pulled our bow over out from behind the moored boats. Mick put the throttle into gear and we slowly made our way out of the basin. Others followed.

Busy above the lock

When we were on our way southwards we’d both had a look at the St Pancras Cruising Clubs website to see if they had any cruises planned. But this section of the website had been empty, we’d both assumed this was due to the pandemic. In the past we’ve never been in the right place at the right time, or the cruises had been fully booked up. However about ten days ago we received an email from Simon asking if we’d like to join their next Tideway cruise there was one space free and it could be ours if we acted quickly. As the cruise was something we’ve always wanted to do but have been cautious about doing just by ourselves, this was an offer we couldn’t turn down.

Mick spent that morning filling out forms, every time he looked at his inbox there was another email from Simon.

The cruising club has a diesel point which is open at certain times, today being one of those, we topped up the tank, only 13 litres needed as we’ve not really been anywhere and been plugged in for a week.

Boats were collecting above the lock, the next locking was ours with NB Albert Victor, we would soon be followed by another two, then another two.

David and Guy on Albert Victor

It was good to be moving again, we’re not ones to sit still for too long. Ahead Islington Tunnel. Was that the boats ahead of us, or was someone heading our way? Okay so there wasn’t a tunnel light, but there still could have been a boat coming towards us. Zooming in with my camera I could see a lot of people on board, four maybe, we hovered for a little while, then I could see that it was actually two boats both heading away from us. In we went.

Popping out the other end there was a boat waiting patiently. One more behind us, then another two, they were going to have quite a wait! We told them to be swift getting into the tunnel otherwise they could be there all day!

Here there is a stretch of the new Eco Moorings that C&RT have put in. 7 day moorings with electric hook up so that boats don’t need to run their engines. The moorings are free and you get a code once you have booked to be able to use the hook up.

At City Road Lock NB Chance and NB Thermopylae were just leaving the lock. We were joined by a lady who would only be doing one lock, heading to her next mooring. She was quite casual about the whole thing heading off to buy a coffee as her boat lowered in the lock.

We waited at Sturt’s Lock but now the boats behind had reorganised themselves, so we headed down on our own. As soon as I closed the gates behind us a paddle was being lifted to refill it.

Save the Sharks

Going through Hackney we got to see the Hackney Sharks. These were to be an installation, singing and blowing bubbles, but Hackney Council won an injunction against them saying they were an unauthorised change of use and a breach of planning permission. So now the sharks sit in a boat waiting to see what will happen to them.

Four years ago we came across some filming in some houses alongside the canal. Today the site is very different, fresh paint and no greenery climbing up the walls.

At Acton’s Lock we were re-joined by NB Victor Albert to go down the remaining locks to Limehouse. Boats of all shapes, sizes and names.

Straight on towards Canary Wharf passing the Hertford Union Canal, gradually the canal got weedier and weedier, but it was still passable. At just gone 3pm we dropped down into Limehouse Basin with the assistance of Kevin from NB Combs Lass. Simon and John were standing along the high wall directing where people should moor. We got a bit of curved wall, but there was a ladder we could use to get on and off.

Soon after we arrived more boats came down into the basin, one pulling up to breast up alongside. Mick went to the stern, I went to the bow to help. The lady passed me a rope saying, ‘Are you Pip?’. A blog reader, well not really. Vicki and I had quite a chat, we were now breasted up with NB Misty Blue another escapee from Goole! Graeme had left a couple of weeks before us having taken advantage of an offer from Little Shuva a tug at Goole who was heading onto the Trent for a job. They shared Ocean Lock and headed down stream, at Trent Falls they had hooked up and Little Shuva took the strain and pulled NB Misty Blue round onto the Trent, Graeme mooring for the night on the Gainsborough pontoon. We’d heard of someone doing this, and now we were moored up next to them.


After a spot of late lunch it was time to start preparing Oleanna for tomorrow. Mick checked the weedhatch, unfortunately dropping our prop mate into the deep water. He managed to pick it up with the sea magnet, only for it to drop off before he could grab hold of it. That will be a new one on order, this time a wrist strap will be attached so this can’t happen again!

Misty Blue and Oleanna fellow escapees

Anchors and chains could be heard being brought out from storage and laid somewhere for easy deployment. We headed to look at the lock and at the Thames. We last did this in 2015 when we imagined that one day we’d be heading out of the lock early one summers morning before all the traffic got going. Speed boats hurtled past along with Uber Clippers, waves ricocheting of the opposite bank. Tomorrow we’d be heading out mid morning! Gulp!!

At 7pm there was a briefing held at the Cruising Association. Only skippers allowed due to covid measures. Mick returned with a lot of laminated sheets, approximate timings of our cruise and most importantly the abort plans should we not be able to continue upstream to Brentford. We joined others for a meal and drink at the Cruising Association Galley. Here’s hoping we sleep better tonight than we did before setting forth to do Trent Falls!

Ready for the morning

9 locks, 5.62 miles, 1 big pull, 1 big push, 2 sharers, 5 sharks, 1 straight on, 10 boats, 9 excited boaters waiting for the tide, 9 experienced excited boaters waiting for the tide, 1st cat added to the spread sheet, 1 propmate lost forever, 1 borrowed, 1 anchor chain and rope, 1 shower full, 1 river reckie, 1 big gulp, 2 laminated sheets, 1 hour briefing, 1 beef pie, 1 salmon and chips, 6 scoops of chilled medication between us.

2 thoughts on “Escapees. 9th July

  1. jennie230

    How exciting Pip – I am sure you are safely back on canals by now, but I do hope you enjoyed the trip. We went from Limehouse to Brentford in 2016 leaving about 10:30. It was a busy old river, but we thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Jennie x

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