Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hey, ho, here came JoJo

Our trip up the Thames crossed (actually re-crossed) the Greenwich Meridian. The Meridian separating east from west and is inextricably linked with Greenwich Mean Time, and the Royal Observatory in Greenwich is where east meets west at Longitude 0°. 

A bit of history: In 1884 the Prime Meridian was defined by the position of the large 'Transit Circle' telescope in the Observatory’s Meridian Observatory. The cross-hairs in the eyepiece of the Transit Circle precisely defined Longitude 0° for the world (as the Earth’s crust is moving very slightly all the time the exact position of the Prime Meridian is now moving very slightly too). The world had become smaller in the 19th century with the vast expansion of the railway and communications networks (sound familiar?) and the worldwide need for an international time standard became an imperative. Since the late 19th century, the Prime Meridian at Greenwich has served as the reference line for Greenwich Mean Time as prior to this, there were no national or international conventions which set how time should be measured. 

And, at the behest of crew-mate in abstentia Ben Ellison, due respect to England's history and to the Greenwich Meridian was provided, albeit a bit late as our eyes and hands were busy avoiding skinny or hard floating objects, and obeying rigorous vessel transit regulations.

As we approached the St. Katherine Dock lock, the shard was sighted and then Tower Bridge was on the bow:

Once through the Dockyard lock, I was offered one option...a spot that required a shoehorn, for entry...

 and managed somehow to squeeze in without harm. Still not sure how I did it!

And yesterday of course was a great day, as I picked up Johanna at the airport. Her journey was disrupted at the very outset due to protests and closure of the SFO international security gate - necessitating bus transfer to and from another terminal to pass through security. Aside from the early confusions and angst she experienced, the trip was otherwise reasonably uneventful and I was eagerly awaiting her arrival at Heathrow. We took the tube back to St Katherine Docks, and are settling in, beginning with a quick walk along the Thames:

So much to see...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

In Hamble, prepared to be underway

From Dartmouth, we sailed a long day to Lymington, arriving Sunday late afternoon after 12 1/2 hours on the water. A daylight arrival in Lymington required an early start, and it struck me that some might consider arising at O'Dark hundred hours to be underway at 4:30 AM on a cold, wintry January morning might be considered to be daft by casual observers. None-the-less, we were up and out and I was dressed for bear against the cold. After a bumpy start with wind against tide exiting Dartmouth in the dark, we had a fantastic sail most all the way to Lymington. The sunshine almost made it feel balmy, layers came off, and we sailed from dawn to 2:30 PM when the wind eased and we motor-sailed to keep speed.

Berthon at Lymington was quite posh. No pictures though, as the fog set in the next day. Jo and I had been here last September, and I remembered it well. A nice town with an incredibly old waterfront area, we ended up spending a second day in Lymington waiting for heavy fog to lift. We departed mid-morning yesterday for Hamble; it was still quite foggy and most of the 16 mile motor to the River Hamble felt like a July day in Maine, but the fog cleared as we entered the river and entry was easier.

This entire area is called the Solent, a large area bounded by the southern mainland and the Isle of Wight with the fabled harbour of Cowes. It is a bit like Newport or the Vineyard/Nantucket axis and I had hoped to spend a few days, but weather conditions are preeminent and decision has been made to push off today for an overnight to the Thames Estuary and Medway anchorage, preparing for a sail up the Thames to London on Friday.

Sailing up the Thames is another notable event, and much preparation is in order. Along with Tony's help and local knowledge, Gus Wilson who is the London OCC Port Captain has been incredibly informative and has provided a Thames guide; we also have "official" transiting documents and recommendations for our reading pleasure.

More from the Medway.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Safe and sound on the River Dart...hello from Dartmouth.

We had a 27 1/2 hour sail from Penarth to Falmouth, reasonably benign, all considered.  After an early afternoon arrival, we got out a bit to stretch our legs and see some sights.
Visions of Johanna anchored off the ships of Her Majesty's Navy
Falmouth town

At anchor among Naval supply ships

The overnight sail unfortunately was followed only by a brief stay in Falmouth. Weather dictated a short stay as strong easterlies were forecast to arise in 24 hours and we elected to leave for our next port, deciding upon Dartmouth. Dartmouth turned out to be a great choice, although the distance of 68 nm. required an early start. We slipped away at 0555 the following morning for a long days sail.

One of Her Majesty's Ships on maneuvers off Plymouth
 We sailed east past the yachting and naval port of Plymouth, and heeded warnings regarding live fire and submarine operations in the area. We saw a submarine on maneuvers with a surface ship, and observed it diving, which was pretty cool.

Tony at the helm, watching for subs

Our approach to Dartmouth was just before sunset; our timing was perfect. The River Dart has high ridges and hills on both sides, the town of Dartmouth to the south, and the village Kingswear across to the north.

We anchored in a designated spot as the sun went down. Dartmouth is pretty at night; the large rather imposing building is the Britannia Royal Naval College of Dartmouth.