A broken down fishing boat had to be towed in from the sea…this delayed our departure from Shotley somewhat as we had to wait for the stricken vessel to come through the sea lock.
Assisted by a considerate and helpful Lock Keeper gentleman, we chugged out into the River Soar at 8.15am. There had been a spectacular sunset the night before…and this was repeated this morning..with all manner of pinks, reds, golds and yellows.
At Shotley we have the confluence of two Suffolk rivers…the Soar and the Orwell. In order to get out to sea you have to pass through both. Once joined they make up the estuary upon which, one side is the container port of Felixstowe whilst the other side is the ferry port of Harwich. We saw many huge, gigantic container ships but not a single ferry.
Once out into the main shipping channel…more so skirting round the edge following the curving line of red buoys…Mike on the helm…T had chosen one of the many routes offered in the almanacs where you buoy hop through the long fingers of sandbanks which spread out from the south like a gigantic hand.
Our route went something like this…Pye End red, to Medusa green to Wallet No 2 red, to West Sunk Cardinal, to Barrow No 2 and then to Barrow No. 3 ….and so on south eastwards down the Barrow Deep Channel….finally emerging in the River Thames proper.
On this route we passed such places as Frinton On Sea, Clacton On Sea, the Blackwater estuary leading westwards into Maldon, and then onto Burnham on Crouch ( the Essex version of Cowes and shades of pink trousers ) down finally to Southend On Sea opposite our destination…the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. It was good to to see the Kent coastline …only one county between us and home in Sussex.
Crossing the Thames big ships deep water channel, we joined the smaller version branching off to the south west …The Medway Channel. Here you follow four greens in, after the red and white striped Safe Water Mark or Fairway buoy ( marking the start of a channel leading into a harbour ).
After the fourth green, looking to the right of the channel, you see four very prominent yellow buoys and notices alerting you to a restricted area… and as it was nearly low tide the top masts in three places… the wreck of the Robert Montgomery.
This is a famous and well known Thames wreck …interfere with it, touch it, disturb it, salvage it…and it has the potential to blow part of London sky high.
This was an American Liberty Ship built during World War ll and used to carry cargo across the Atlantic to Britain during the war.
Having survived many U-Boat submarine threats, the ship was wrecked off the Nore Sandbank in the Thames Estaury in 1944. The wreck presents a serious hazard as the Robert Montgomery was loaded with over 1,500 tons of explosives…all of which remain onboard. The vessel broke into two separate parts roughly at her midships. At all states of the tide , her three masts are visible above the water. There is an official exclusion zone around the wreck.
Poli Poli passed by the Robert Montgomery en route into Sheerness port. Once inside, the river splits…right is the Medway up to Chatham and beyond to Rochester. Left is the River Swale to Queenborough..the river’s course defining Sheppey as an island separate from Kent.
There is no marina as such at Queenborough… just a single long all tide floating pontoon joined to the land by a long walkway. As the three berths were all reserved the Harbour Master has said we could raft up agains a big red and white “tripper” holiday boat called “Spirit of Sheppey”.
Below …Poli Poli rafted up against the “Spirit of Sheppey” …then in front …four 60 foot Challenger Yachts taking up the three berths on the all tide landing.
We did so at 4pm …after a fairly long, often uncomfortable journey down into the Thames Estuary from Shotley. After scrambling over the sides of the tripper boat, a long walk on the walkway over the mud at low tide, we dined handsomely in the Flying Dutchman pub…another 50 or so miles closer to home!
Mileage for the day : 49.3 n. miles.
Mileage from Eastbourne: 2,567 n.miles.
Tomorrow Tuesday 9th October…we will leave very early to catch the flood tide up to London. Some folk will ask …why go to Queenborough??
It is a convenient place to overnight and then be best positioned to catch the right tide which if timed correctly, will give you a seven hour fair tide all the way to Tower Bridge. About 40 n. miles up into the very heart of the City. Our fifth and final Capital.