26.04. – 03.05.2014 Calais – London

Skippper: Andi und Urs
Crew: Paul, Christian, Matthias, Thomas
Tour: Calais – London total 373 Sea miles

Foreword
In early February, we met in the restaurant Schmiedstube in Bern for the first time. After the usual round of introductions the meeting started, work distribution and the crew’s preferences were discussed. We agree things concerning life and training on board and are curious how the week onboard will be. But time flies by, as always at these crew meetings, and soon its time to say “so, bye, until April”.

On the Friday afternoon before the start of the tour, gradually the crew and skipper meet in the hotel in Calais. This gives us the opportunity to do the biggest shopping trip of the tour already so that we don’t waste any valuable time on Saturday. In the evening we have a delicious meal with a glass of wine and get to know each other better. The Mood is good
and after paying the bill we start back to the hotel.

26/04/2014 Calais – Dunkerque
In the morning between 8:00 and 9:00 we are at the entrance of the Marina with our purchases. Rolling Swiss II is moored at the dock ready and waiting patiently until the ship handover is completed by the skipper. Finally, we may board and stow our purchases in the designated compartments and in the refrigerator. Everyone grabs a berth space and settles in. We get the first impression of the ship and Urs (our skipper 2) begins with
the safety briefing telling us some things about the Rolling Swiss II. This is compulsory on all CCS tours and once its over, its  “oilies” and life jackets on. Andi (our skipper) discusses with us how he intends to carry out the departure manoeuvres. Having cast off we bob comfortably towards the bridge the next opening will allow us into the harbour. There, the ferries to England operate and we must call up the Harbour Authority on the radio in order to leave the harbour. We are allowed to follow after one of the ferries and at about 12:30 make a heading for Dunkirk. The current helps us to do just over seven and a half knots through the water. The atmosphere on the bridge is good and the ones new to Rolling Swiss II learn a bit.  For example, there is a small grey boat that approaches us from the starboard side. Is there a stationary bearing? Who by KVR has right of way? When this type of situation crops up. During which time, a crew member notices that the name of our ship is called on the radio. We quickly notice that the little grey boat belongs to the French customs and announces us his intention to visit. We are instructed to
keep the course at a reduced speed so that customs officers can transfer from their RIB to Rolling Swiss II while moving. This whole check runs orderly and disciplined. The officials are friendly but also determined. Our skipper shows the ship’s papers to one of them. Another one looks at our passports. Two officers look in the fridge and lockers. One officer unscrews the circular hatches on the radar arch and looks in with the help of a mirror. Then, the hatches in the floor. The bunks and bags of the crew members are searched in our presence. No drugs or contraband are found. Everything is in order, as it should be. After close to an hour, the officers say goodbye and get into the RIB. And none of the
officers falls into the water. Those who have never experienced such a control are richer for the experience. Now, finally, we have time to exercise our MOB manoeuvre. Now we can get a very good impression how precisely Rolling Swiss II can handle. Later we continue in the direction of our destination port, which we reach by around 1700 and moor the ship in the Port Due Grand Large.

04/27/2014 Dunkerque – Lowestoft

It is about half past three on Sunday morning. Crew and Skipper are in top gear between breakfast and the preparations for the trip to England. Around 120 nautical miles are on today’s program and at four o’clock exactly the two motors of the Rolling Swiss II are started. The Weather is moderate with occasional rain, Force 3 to 4 and sea state 0.5 – 1 are awaiting. So great to be travelling in a motor yacht and sitting in the dry. A port exit in the dark turns out navigationally interesting. Lighting and leading lights must be
interpreted correctly in order to stay on the right track. A comparison between the conventional chart on paper and the modern electronic device in such a situation makes for a good experiment. How does the next navigation mark flash? Three times in ten seconds? Compare this with the function started by the day navigator’s waypoint list and once again we learn how theory and practice work. We all benefit from this. When it gets lighter outside it looks different again. There is not much more to do than keep track and look out for any obstacles”. Some try on occasion to get a nap. At some point though, one
or the other realize why this ship carries the name Rolling Swiss II. Wind and waves together are creating these conditions.
The boat rolls a long way sometimes and I discreetly make my way to the
rails as I bring my breakfast back up again.  A Stugeron taken before would have helped but they are packed away in my bunk. Later, it calms down because the waves come from a different direction. In the afternoon, after 3 hours we change the clocks. Andi goes to look for the British courtesy flag which will be flown later. When we finally moor up in
Lowestoft it’s just after 19:00. We arrived in England after a good 15 hours. Paul and Christian devote themselves to important work in the engin room- cleaning the water filters. Matthias and Thomas set about preparing the navigation plan for the next day. Soon, though all are sitting at the table. And the day comes to and end.

28/04/2014 Lowestoft – Shotley

After breakfast, Thomas makes his way to the harbour master’s office to pay for the berth. The head of the Marina asks us to advise him when we leave the harbour, via the radio. Dangerous situations could arise because cargo ships in the channel are notified to go under the bridge with lights and the channel they use is directly in front of the harbour entrance. The harbour master must give his approval before Rolling Swiss II may leave the
port. Aha. No problem sir, we will contact you by radio When We Are ready to go (and have a nice day) …

Later we contact him as usual via radio and with his permission make a few small harbour manoeuvres. Then we may leave and enjoy the English weather. Today we are making a short trip along the coast, past the lighthouse in Southwold to the northern shore of North Shipwash. From there we go into the entrance of the Bay of Harwich. This estuary entrance lies between Felixstowe and Harwich and is quite well marked. Two rivers converge here. In the west the River Stour and to the north, the River Orwell. The weather is better and the sun makes an appearance. In Felixstowe there is a huge container
terminal for cargo ships and we can see from a distance as container after container is loaded. We head westward and after passing the south transit of Shotley Spit and into the green Ganges, we turn Rolling Swiss II into Shotley Marina. We must aim directly at the lock. To Port and starboard the shore dries out at low water. However, with careful helming there is no problem because the entrance channel is dredged an additional two meters. The small lock in the harbour entrance of Shotley is also thoughtfully designed. On both sides of the lock we can moor our boat onto a floating dock. The harbour master greeted us as we rise up in the lock and is very helpful. At our berth we can see the  container terminal better. And also during the night we are always reminded that they are
working nearby.

04/29/2014 Shotley – Titchmarsh

Today, we fill the water tank of Rolling Swiss II before leaving Shotley Marina. The lock gear works perfectly. We went out via the dredged channel to the south channel. From there we are now on the River Orwell travelling up towards Ipswich / Greenwich. On the way up through the river we get a taste of rural England. Again and again we pass Mooring areas where the British park their sailboats and motorboats. Finally we pass the Orwell Bridge and go to the West Bank Terminal of Port of Ipswich. We go further and leave
the entrance of the port lock to starboard. After a few hundred meters, we stop at a narrow point of the River Orwell and begin our turning manoeuvres. After these exercises, we resume our course to the mouth of two rivers. Finally, we chug peacefully into the open sea with Rolling Swiss II and move forward after passing the northern transit between Landguard and the yellow bin Pye End, travelling south-westerly along the coast. After about 6 nautical miles, we reach the next bay to the south and follow the Walt-On-Channel. Here again, precise navigation is required. We have the opportunity to compare the navigation information on the paper chart to electronic data and identify differences
sometimes; however, it does not affect our motoring journey. In this river the water the level has not yet reached the high water mark but it is sufficient to enter the Marina Titchmash. By radio we report and get a berth assigned. After a drink on the foredeck the skipper and crew go into town to make purchases and look around a little. Only the cook of the day remains to prepare the evening menu.

30/04/2014 Titchmash – Burnham on Crouch

The day begins with a leisurely morning meal and the final preparations for casting off. We continue our schedule in relation to the flood tide. We are a little early and take the opportunity to make a few more harbour manoeuvres. At Around 0930 UTC +1 we leave the port and navigate by visual navigation (using the charts of course) using a list of compiled waypoint. After the harbour entrance we catch a seal taking her morning bath. The passage through the river runs smoothly and soon we are out of the bay, out into the
open sea with the Rolling Swiss II, again. Our next destination is the Gunfleet Sands offshore wind farm installations. Here we want to deal with the theory regarding anchoring. To get to these wind power farms drive up to the red and white Pye End buoy and then go for the next 8 nautical miles on a southeast course to the red buoy Wallet No2. At some point we cross the Seaward limit and are in the area which is controlled by the Port of London Authority. When we get to the Wind farm out came our cameras and cell phones (for Facebook and WhatsApp) we are in awe as to the size and height of the individual powergenerators. At almost half past one we set the anchor near the wind field and have a cosy coffee break for about an hour. The sun comes out and one of the
crew makes himself comfortable on the foredeck sun pads. However, as we go on, we quickly realize that the view is not necessarily better just because the sun is shining. On the contrary, we must pay greater attention because the marks blend into the seascape. We are travelling towards the sun up until the Burnham-on-Crouch harbour entrance. We are honest and have to admit that this sunshine is good for our minds and when we have completed our mooring, as allocated on the radio, we can enjoy a drink on the foredeck.

01/05/2014 Burnham on Crouch – Gravesend

What seemed almost impossible is now already a reality. It is the navigational challenge of a circumnavigation of the Isle of Sheppey. The calculations were well prepared and we calmly leave at five to six in the morning, down the River Crouch, with its many navigation marks, out of the bay and out into the open waters. The time window for the trip around the Isle of Sheppey is a little over seven hours.  But first we take a southerly course for about four hours and sail past the Maunsell Forts. These are towers laid on the sea bed by the admiralty during the Second World War that served as coastal defence. These isolated structures are still visible and give the scenery a spooky feel. We feel that the history is not so far away. On the starboard side, we see a small wind farm. Shortly before eleven o’clock we enter in the Swale River around the Eastern Cape Shell Ness with Rolling Swiss II. We
follow the river and pass Faversham Spit to the north. On the hills next to the Watts area cows graze, we don’t recognize the type. Old abandoned industrial ports and ships whose captains got their tide calculation wrong remind us of the past. We pass gently through the shallows without a problem. The Sheppey Way Bridge next to the King Ferry Bridge opens for us after we notify them over the radio. After three and a half hour we have circled the small island and drive out of the mouth of the river Medway into the River Thames.  After the yellow mark ‘Sea Reach No 7’ we follow the river for about five nautical miles and pass the container terminal with the rather large container ships and head for our destination Gravesend. Following a request by radio we moor on the inner side of the Town Pier next to the Tilbury Ferry terminal. The whole procedure is done under the eyes of the
curious passengers waiting for their ferry ride. Yes, the Swiss are confident and have the show “in the bag”. Some of the crew go ashore and take a look at the town, then into a pub for their first Guinness on land. Back to the Rolling Swiss II where dinner is already waiting and Navigation preparations for the next day.

02/05/2014 Gravesend – London Imperial Wharf

Just after six-thirty in the morning the motors of the Rolling Swiss II are turned on and we head off in the direction of London. It’s just about 30 nautical miles to our destination, London Imperial Wharf. Cautiously we calculate about 5 hours drive at a speed of 6 knots. After Tilbury Docks, on the right side, we take the first left turn at the Broad Ness
Lighthouse. Firstly, we go under the Queens Elizabeth II Bridge and then navigate around some of the bends on the Thames.  Near the Gallions Point we catch sight of a seal swimming around in the river. We steer our motor yacht past the Royal Victoria Gardens and North Woolwich. Behind are the King George V and Royal Albert Docks where the City of London Airport is located. Now we are at the Thames Barrier. Matthias call on the radio to ask for permission to pass. Approval is given and we enter into the gate that is signalled using a traffic light system. Then the cable car goes over us, which connects the Docklands, over the Thames, with the famous O2 Area. We notice that there is more and more traffic on the water and must pay more attention to the Ferries which swinging
back and forth between the banks of the Thames (which has right of way). The boat taxis are doing up to 25 knots. Care and attention of the skipper is a top priority. Shortly before the Tower Bridge Urs calls the Fuel barge on the radio. To fuel up Rolling Swiss II., We moor up at the Fuel Barge and wait for the gas station attendant. This Fuel Barge is almost like a children’s playground for technically interested adults. Through the dusty windscreen we see inside the offices of the fuel seller. Nothing is tidy, its total chaos. Invoices should be carefully stored in files, not lying around on the dirty floor. After
waiting for over an hour and trying to contact the relevant person we set off,
in not such a good mood, and ask ourselves how this business has survived. The water
level rises and we have to pass under the bridge to get to Imperial Wharf. We can not afford such a long wait, so we pass under the first bridges (starting with the Tower Bridge). At some of the bridges we fold the antennas down to ensure that everything goes well. Passing the giant Ferris Wheel, the London Eye on the left Big Ben on the right side. At Westminster Bridge there is a second fuel barge. We make a further attempt to refuel here, but after a long wait we decide to go on again. Further ahead just before Vauxhall Bridge we drive past the unassuming building of the Secret Intelligence Service. Stopping here is strictly prohibited and photography is also not allowed  After said bridge, and on the same side as Saint George Wharf there are some a chic Riverside bars, where the secret
agents sip Martinis and chat up the local totty after work. After passing another bridge we reach the entrance to Chelsea Harbour. It is located close to the Imperial Wharf pier. The harbour master has already been informed by radio of our arrival. He stands at the pier and waves us to a free space. There we make our final mooring on this trip and tie Rolling Swiss II up. We are pleased that everything has worked out well as we enjoy our drinks on the foredeck. Later, in the harbour office the disillusionment returns … no sanitary
facilities … no beloved WIFI … but pay dearly for the space (about three times as much as before in other ports). In the evening after cleaning the ship we go to a pleasant area of ​​Chelsea on the Kings Road, we have an aperitif in a pub and some good food in an interesting location where there is lots of activity. The day draws to and end and on the way back we pop into a pub where we enjoy a nightcap and chat about the last few days.

Postscript
It’s Saturday morning and the bags are packed on the dock. The new crew arrives and we say goodbye to Urs who remains as the new skipper for the next tour on Rolling Swiss II. We give him enough money to refuel the boat. Somehow, it’s annoying that this has not worked out, here on the River Thames, although it is well recommended in Reeds. Presumably, this is just an experience one has to endure as a seafarer and this information may help others to plan their trip. As we leave Imperial Wharf and Rolling Swiss II the
sun comes out and dazzles us a little. One after the other, our group slowly splits up. Different airports or train stations … that’s how it goes after a tour. The author stays few more days to look at the city. “See you! and safe journey home” to the other crew members it was cool with you.

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