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18 July 2007

Gabriel's Wharf and the Taj Mahal

Six of us turned out last night for a hard paddle into wind and against a fast ebb to Gabriel's Wharf. The wind was in the south west so we crossed to the Surrey (south) side of the river at Tower Bridge and found a bit of shelter but still had to work hard against the tide which was about and hour and a half into the ebb from a 6.9m HW level, so quite strong. We reached our destination in 46 minutes strung out like Tour riders on a mountain stage and were ready for a rest.

We encountered some strong gusts on the way back and I had to clench my fists and hang on to my paddles a few times.

As we approached Tower Bridge we noticed it was raised but didn't quite get there in time to pass underneath the open span, although we did see an old Thames barge come through.

Tower Bridge closed just before we got there (click to enlarge)

The journey back took 26 minutes but would have been a little quicker had we not been held up waiting for traffic before crossing back to Wapping. One of the things I love about paddling on the Tideway is that no trip is the same and one always sees something a bit different. Tonight it was this replica of the Taj Mahal being towed down river. It was a puzzle at the time but when I went home later in the evening I saw it again on the news and learned that it was a promotion for the start of the India Now festival taking place over the next three months.

Taj Mahal replica floats down the Thames to promote the India Now festival (click to enlarge)

4 July 2007

Thunder storms

Yesterday was Wimbledon weather so only four of us turned out ready for a paddle on the river. It was a strongly ebbing tide and quite hard work paddling against it to Temple Steps. It was not made any easier by the heavy river traffic and wash although this did add some excitement, particularly as a police launch sped by - the river is not exempt from security alerts - creating very turbulent conditions.

We made Temple Steps in 44 minutes and the return journey took 26 (10 km round trip).

Thunder storms over Canary Wharf