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Yearly Archives: 2022

Winter Wonderland in Canary Wharf

It might be a little early for Christmas but the snow has arrived in London, to enjoy the winter scenes, I took a stroll around Canary Wharf .

Jubilee Gardens has been decked out with artificial Christmas trees but the snow really adds to the effect.

The snow on the real trees add to the Christmas scene.

Cabot Square offers a mixture of statues, fountain and large Christmas trees.

People have been busy in Westferry Circus building snowman of different sizes.

But this chap has taken things more arty with a wonderful head sculpture made of snow.

The cold spell is due to last for a while, so have a look around before the snow disappears.

HNLMS Groningen (P843) and HNLMS Van Amstel (F831) of the Royal Netherlands Navy in West India Dock

Friday saw the arrival of a couple of ships from the Royal Netherlands Navy into West India Dock, another ship the HNLMS Karel Doorman is moored in Greenwich.

The HNLMS Groningen is a Holland-class offshore patrol vessel operated by the Royal Netherlands Navy. The vessel was built in the Romanian shipyards in Galati, by the Dutch firm Damen Group. The ship was laid down in 2010, launched in 2011 and commissioned in 2013.

It has a length of 108.4 m (355 ft 8 in) and beam of 16 m (52 ft 6 in). It has a crew of 54 and carries helicopter on board. The ship has been used counter-drug operations and coast guard duties in the Caribbean and off the coast of Somalia, as part of the EU anti-piracy mission Atalanta.

HNLMS Van Amstel (F831) is a ship of the Karel Doorman-class of multi-purpose frigates (also known as “M-fregat” class) of the Royal Netherlands Navy. Built by the shipyard Koninklijke Schelde Groep in Vlissingen. The ship is named after the Dutch Captain Jan van Amstel.

The ship was laid down in 1987,launched in 1990 and commissioned in 1993. The ships has a length of 122 m (400 ft 3 in) and beam of 14.4 m (47 ft 3 in). It carries a crew of 154 and helicopter.

The ship has been deployed in 2005 to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina. In 2012, Van Amstel apprehended 11 Somali pirates off the Somali coast. In 2016, Van Amstel joined Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2). In October 2022, Van Amstel along with HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën deployed to conduct drills with the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford.

There seems to be little information as to the reason for the visit but this is not unusual for NATO ships.

Super Yacht Kismet and NATO Ships in West India Docks

It was with some surprise when I wandered into West India Dock and saw the Super Yacht Kismet and some Nato ships.

Kismet is a large superyacht and has visited the dock a number of times before. It often comes to London when its owner Pakistani-American billionaire businessman Shahid Khan wants to entertain guests attending NFL matches in London.

The yacht is often in the dock before being taken up to near Tower Bridge for entertaining guests.

Kismet is 308ft long has three decks and a private sundeck with a pool-Jacuzzi-BBQ area and all mod cons. The ship features exterior styling by Espen and interior design by Reymond Langton Design featuring marble and rare woods, it will accommodate 12 guests in six staterooms, and has a crew of 20.

This ship is the second vessel named Kismet owned by Mr Khan and estimated to have cost 200 million dollars, a previous 223ft yacht was sold for a rumoured £70 million in 2013. The new Kismet was built at German boatyard Lurssen.

The Nato boats are The Kursis of the Lithuanian Navy (M54), Sulzbach Rosenberg (M1062) and Homburg (1069) of the German Navy.

Pegase (M644) of the French Navy, The other two ships are not easy to identify.

Executions at the Museum of London Docklands from 14 October 2022 to 16 April 2023

I have not been to Museum of London Docklands for a while, so I was delighted to get the chance to visit their new exhibition entitled Executions which explores the phenomenon of public execution in London’s history from 1196 to 1868.

London was the location of many high profile public executions, Smithfield, Southwark, Banqueting House, Newgate Prison, Tower Hill and Tyburn were just some of the main sites.

The exhibition reveals the social, cultural and economic impact of public executions over 700 years through a range of objects, paintings and projections.

The exhibition begins by looking at some of the methods of execution like burning, boiling, beheading, hanging and Hanging, Drawing and Quartering.

Public executions were often a spectacle to deter crime and rebellion and demonstrate the power of the crown, church and state. One of the highlights of the exhibition is a projection recreation of the Tyburn gallows.

As the centuries past, more and more crimes were punishable by death, at the end of the 18th century over 200 crimes could lead to a death sentence. Many of the executions attracted large crowds and the exhibition explores the spectacle and rituals of execution days.

Some of the condemned played up to the crowd especially the ‘celebrity criminals’ like Jack Sheppard.

The exhibition features a section on gibbeting which was usually reserved for pirates, the bodies would be left in a metal cage along the river as a warning not to be tempted to follow that ‘profession’.

Many of the executions of pirates took place at Wapping’s Execution Dock and gibbets were located around the Isle of Dogs.

In the exhibition’s final section is a series of objects that chart the end of public executions, Victorian ideas of civilised behaviour led to the decline of public executions. Executions did not go away but were moved behind closed doors.

This interesting and informative exhibition explores some of the darker aspects of London history. Although we like to think we have become more ‘civilised’ many of the issues over this period still remain. Crime and punishment are still topics of debate and ‘celebrity criminals’ still exist.

The exhibition makes full use of the unique building that houses the Museum of London Docklands. Many of the exhibitions at the Museum of London Docklands are usually free but there is a charge for this particular exhibition.

Hera: A Cornish Shipwreck Tragedy by Kevin Patience

One of the delights of running a website like Isle of Dogs Life is it brings you in contact with people who have their own fascinating story to tell. An example of this is the story of the Hera sailing ship that came to a tragic end in 1914.

Kevin Patience got in touch with Isle of Dogs Life earlier in the year with a query about when Hera was in the London Graving Dry Dock having repairs, unfortunately we were unable to place a date but the ship’s presence in the dock led to some curiosity about the ship and its fate. Kevin at the time mentioned he was writing a book about the Hera and when completed he kindly sent me a copy.

Kevin’s book begins by placing Hera in context of its time, when the ship that would become the Hera was launched in 1886 named Richard Wagner in Geestemunde near Bremerhaven, the age of sail was coming to an end and the age of steam ships was gaining dominance.

In 1889, the ship was bought by the Wencke Shipping Company and renamed Hera after the Greek Goddess, whilst not a goddess, the Hera was certainly an elegant four masted barque with square sails on three masts. Many sailing ships travelled the world picking up cargoes and transferred them to their destination and then picking another cargo and so on. They were the workhorses of their time and often encountered heavy seas especially around Cape Horn. The head of the Wencke Shipping Company died in 1905 and Hera was sold to Rhederei Actien Gesellschaft.

The book illustrates that many sailing ships were involved in the Nitrate trade, Sodium Nitrate or Saltpetre was discovered in Northern Chile and was used globally as a fertiliser and a prime constituent of explosives. For a time, it was a massive operation in Chile employing 300,000 people and producing four million tonnes annually.

Since her launch, the Hera travelled the world and had experienced captains and crew who had worked in many extreme conditions. As it began what was to be its final voyage, the Hera followed a well-travelled route. The Hera left Germany in 1913 before calling at Port Talbot in South Wales to pick up coal then made its way to Chile to offload the coal and pick up the nitrate. Her next port of call was due to be Falmouth before heading back to Hamburg.

The book goes into considerable detail about what happened on 31st January and 1st February 1914, approaching Falmouth the weather was rough with a gale blowing, and Captain Lorentz of the Hera was unsure as to his exact position. As night fell, the weather worsened, at about midnight the second mate reported land ahead. The Hera turned but it was too late, and the Hera struck Gull Rock, a small island. Realising the ship was sinking Lorenz ordered the firing of rockets to alert anyone on shore. The majority of the crew made it into a lifeboat, but the Hera moved and created a swell that capsized the lifeboat.

As the Hera sank deeper the crew had to climb further up the rigging, but due to the freezing cold and terrible conditions, crew began to fall off into the sea and died. Eventually the lifeboat from Falmouth came alongside the wreck of the Hera and pulled five exhausted crewmen to safety. Nineteen men died that night and their remains were buried in Veryan churchyard.

The tragedy was reported nationally and internationally, and the book includes many reports from newspapers. Many of the reports paid tribute to the Falmouth lifeboat crew and those on shore who tried to get to the ship. There were also reports that illustrate how treacherous the seas are around Cornwall and how many ships had similar tragic results. Many on shore and around Britain sent tributes to the crew in recognition of the strong bonds between those who work on ships and the realisation of the dangers they undertake.

Soon the First World War would take everyone’s attention and the Hera was consigned to history and largely forgotten.

But this is where Kevin’s part of the story begins, Kevin served in the Royal Air Force and became a member of the RAF Sub Aqua Club. He was sent to RAF St Mawgan where as Diving Officer of the local sub aqua club he helped to locate the wreck of the Hera. In 1970, Kevin wrote a piece about the Hera and interest in the ship has grown and grown and it is now one of the most popular diving sites in Cornwall.

Anyone who has written about historic events will know that facts are often distorted over time and this book not only includes Kevin’s extensive knowledge but brings together reports, photographs and historical documents to tell the fascinating story about Hera. The book never forgets the human tragedy of the ship and the foreword is written by Rita Agius who is the granddaughter of one of the survivors, Josef Cauchi.

I am sure that nobody associated with the Hera would think that over a century after her demise, she is still the topic of interest. Kevin’s book illustrates that the romance of the sailing age had a darker side with danger from the weather, the seas and rocks lurking below the water. The Hera is a reminder that even ships that conquered the dangers of Cape Horn and travelled around the world many times can come to grief in unexpected ways.

This fascinating and well researched book is available direct from Kevin at saburi@hotmail.com for £10 within UK and elsewhere at cost

Pioneer Superyacht in West India Dock

There is an unusual assortment of yachts in West India Dock at the moment, the latest arrival is the 46.2m/150’11” long Pioneer motor yacht. The yacht built by Palmer Johnson in the United States and was launched in 1996.

Pioneer was previously named Dione Sky, Putty VI, Turmoil, and features exterior design by Vripack, while her interior was designed by Axel Vervoordt, with naval architecture by Vripack.

Up to 10 guests are accommodated on board the superyacht, and she also has accommodation for 8 crew members including the captain of Pioneer.

Pioneer is known as a explorer yacht because it is used to travel to Canada, Alaska and Greenland and North & South America as well as Caribbean and Mediterranean.

As usual it is not known how long the yacht will be in dock or who the owner is ?

Stardust Superyacht in West India Dock

At the beginning of the holiday weekend, we have the arrival of the Stardust superyacht which has a length of 62.5m.

The yacht was built by Amels in Netherlands who delivered the superyacht to its ownder in 2020.

The Stardust exterior design is by Tim Heywood Design Ltd., while her interior was designed by Studio Laura Sessa and Amels, with naval architecture by Amels.

She can accommodate up to 12 guests in 6 staterooms and has accommodation for 14 crew members.

Other than this information, little is known about the owner or plans for yacht. The yacht does have a very unusual design and is well worth a trip to the dock where you can see plenty of other boats including the confiscated PHI and some heritage boats near Dollar Bay development.

Free Isle of Dogs River Festival at Folly House Beach – 20th August 2022

I am delighted to report that Thames21 & Isle of Dogs are holding a festival to celebrate the Thames River and its riverside residents. The river is an important part of living on the Island and has been a source of work and enjoyment for centuries.

To find out more about the river pop along to the festival.

There will be:

CLEAN-UP of the beach

RIVER DIPPING to see what lives in the Thames

LITTER DETECTIVES to collect important data

BEACH FUN including skimming contest, sand castles and treasure hunt

PAINTING BY THE THAMES with Expressions Wellbeing

LOCAL RIVER HISTORY with Friends of the Island History Trust

WELLBEING with Healthy Island Partnership and Mind in Tower Hamlets

A chance to get to know more about the @Reclaim our River campaign


Mumbai street food from the delicious Shanu’s Kitchen uk


Free Isle of Dogs River Festival at Folly House Beach – 20th August 2022

11:30am – 4:30pm, Kelson Beach aka Folly House Beach

Slipstream Superyacht in West India Dock

Another newcomer to the dock is Slipstream superyacht, the 60 m (198 ft) yacht was launched by French shipyard CMN Yachts in 2009.

The interior of the yacht was designed by British design firm Winch Design, There is accommodations for 12 guests in 7 cabins with one master, 1 VIP, two doubles, and two twin rooms. There are accommodations for 15 crew onboard.

The yacht’s exterior also features a design from Winch Design with a striking black hull and a silver superstructure.

She was built by CMN Yachts, a French shipyard based in Cherbourg Cedex, who delivered the award-winning yacht in 2009.

Considered to be worth 50 million dollars, the yacht is owned by Canadian billionaire Jack Cowin.

We certainly have a wide assortment of ships and boats in the dock at the moment and it is well worth a visit.

INS Tarangini in West India Dock

After a quiet few years, we are certainly seeing more ships and boats coming into West India Dock, the latest arrival is the INS Tarangini which is a sail training ship for the Indian Navy.

INS Tarangini is a three-masted barque, commissioned in 1997 as a training ship for the Indian Navy. She was constructed in Goa to a design by the British naval architect Colin Mudie, and launched in 1995.

In 2003–04, she became the first Indian naval ship to circumnavigate the globe.

The ship sails across the Indian Ocean region for the purpose of providing sail training experience to the officer cadets of the Indian Navy.

When Tarangini did its first circumnavigation of the globe in 2003–04, the ship covered 33,000 nautical miles (61,000 km) and visited 36 ports in 18 countries.

The Tarangini has sailed to The Great Lakes in Canada for races and has also participated in European tall ship races.

During the last 15 years Tarangini has participated in 13 expeditions sailing over 188,000 nautical miles (348,000 km; 216,000 mi), remaining at sea for over 2,100 days, visiting 74 ports in 39 countries.

The INS Tarangini is visiting London for a few days and will set sail on 18th August.