What was it really like to sail through Tower Bridge? eXXpedition Round Britain crew member Deborah Maw fills us in:
“We arrived in London today in a state of huge excitement – we had permission to go through London Bridge.
We were all on watch at some time during the night but no one wanted to miss travelling up the Thames, past Greenwich Palace and the Millenium Dome, through the Barrage, past Isle of Dogs & Canary Wharf, seeing the iconic skyline of London getting closer & closer with each bend of the river. With several women on board who know London as home, we had various sightseeing commentaries going on from teenage pub haunts to celebrity homes.
Finally, after 80 miles of Thames estuary & river, and about 12 hours of cruising we could see Tower Bridge ahead. We were scheduled to go through at 10am, so we had time for a brief stop at the Hermitage Moorings – a delightful collection of 19 live aboard boats (all over 50 years old) with about 50 residents. Tanya and Diana got off to go to a press briefing. The rest of us got changed into our Exxpedition shirts but sadly it was too cold for most without a coat too.
And then we were off. A helicopter was making it’s way towards us – Sky Ocean Rescue filming. The traffic stopped on the bridge & gradually, as we approached, the road parted and lifted. Some of us were besides ourselves with excitement – I had to contain my yells to some extent. It felt like one of the most exciting moments of my life.
— Sky Ocean Rescue (@SkyOceanRescue) August 30, 2017
People were waving madly from the shore and bridge, the helicopter was buzzing, the film crew on board taking it all in and us lot squealing and shouting, trying hard not to jump up & down.
And then we were through & mooring up on an incredibly stinky rubbish barge – ermmm??!! Torn bags full of party rubbish, including loads of single use plastic & polystyrene, ready to be blown away. It provided a useful talking point while we waited to turn round & go back to Hermitage – yup through the bridge again. This time the tide carried us so quickly that we barely had time to wave madly at the people on shore before we were through.
By 12 we were securely moored at Hermitage Moorings & ready for lunch. The very rainy afternoon was our own; some people went home, some cooked for the evening, some slept, Diane and Holly, bless them, replaced the starboard toilet effluent pipe which had been getting regularly blocked, some showered, some went for a walk & I went with Liane to the pub to use the WiFi.
5.30 we regathered on Sea Dragon for Emily’s solution workshop, coming up with dozens of ideas to deal with the issue of ocean plastic from source to collection to re-use.
7pm We went to the Hermitage communal dining room for an incredibly beautiful spread of food & a lot of wine. We were treated to Gail’s preliminary film which is amazing. Lots of Leg 1 and 2 crew joined us which was so wonderful, however, they were the last ones standing as Leg 3 were shattered & off to bed early.
This morning dawned bright and sunny; stepping onto the deck at 7.30am and seeing the view – Tower Bridge, the Shard, St Paul’s – was literally awesome.”