Home » River Life

Category Archives: River Life

Advertisements

The PS Waverley passing under Tower Bridge

Regular readers will know that one of my favourite walks on a Sunday morning is from the Isle of Dogs to the Tower of London.  Once you leave Canary Wharf behind, you enter the old docklands walking along Narrow Street in Limehouse to Shadwell Basin and then passed by Tobacco Dock to Wapping.

Finally you can walk around St Katherine’s Dock where you will often see the Gloriana moored before finally arriving at the Tower and then maybe on towards London Bridge.  Whilst enjoying the sunshine near London Bridge, I noticed in the distance the familiar outline of a ship.  It was the PS Waverley being pulled by the tug, in 2016, I was on Tower Bridge when the Waverley passed underneath. This time I had a grandstand view as she slowly made her way towards the bridge.

The PS Waverley is the last seagoing passenger-carrying paddle steamer in the world and since 2003 Waverley has been listed in the National Historic Fleet by National Historic Ships UK as “a vessel of pre-eminent national importance”.

Built in 1946, she used to sail from Craigendoran on the Firth of Clyde to Arrochar on Loch Long until 1973. She was then restored and now operates passenger excursions around the British coast.

She is a regular visitor to the Thames and is one of the great sights of the river chugging up and down with lots of passengers.

Eric Pemberton managed to photograph the Waverley a couple of days ago going past the Isle of Dogs before it was light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

MV Ocean Majesty on the Thames

At this time of year, the Thames sees the arrival of many cruise ships which make their way up to Tower Bridge, Eric Pemberton managed to capture some photographs of the MV Ocean Majesty as it passed by the Isle of Dogs.

The MV Ocean Majesty is a small cruise ship that was originally built-in 1966 as the ferry Juan March. As the Juan March, the ship worked on routes for the Madrid based ferry operator Trasmediterránea. During her service with her original owners, Juan March was mainly used to ferry passengers from Spain to the Balearic Islands.

In 1985 Juan March was sold to the Sol Mediterranean and became Sol Christina.She quickly changed name when she became the Kyros Star of Opale Lines. Eventually she was then sold to Majestic International Cruises, who rebuilt her from her original ferry-like form into a cruise ship, and she received her current name Ocean Majesty.

Since 1995, she has been charted out to other companies including Page & Moy and German cruise company Hansa Touristik.

The MV Ocean Majesty has a length 135 metres (443 ft) and beam of 15.8 metres (52 ft) and has 274 cabins, of which 185 are outside.

Thanks to Eric Pemberton for the photographs and it is time for us at Isle of Dogs Life to take a summer break for around three weeks.

MV Hebridean Princess in London

Eric Pemberton very kindly sent me a couple of photographs of the MV Hebridean Princess as she recently made her way up the Thames to Tower Bridge.  The ship visited West India Dock in 2015 and I was then able to have a closer look at what is considered one of the smallest luxury cruise ship afloat .

The MV Hebridean Princess  has an intriguing history and a Royal connection and is considered the height of luxury, however the origins of the ship were much more mundane.

DSCN6860

West India Dock 2015

The ship began life as the  MS Columba which was the last of three car ferries built in 1964 by Hall, Russell & Company, Aberdeen and operated by David MacBrayne Ltd, the ship also took up the Isle of Mull service. She travelled around the various Scottish Isles visiting Stornoway, Mallaig, Oban, serving Coll and Tiree, Colonsay, Iona, Lochaline and Tobermory.

DSCN6868

West India Dock 2015

In 1988, she was acquired by Hebridean Island Cruises to offer luxury cruises. After a major refit she emerged as the luxury cruise ship, the MV Hebridean Princess. She began providing luxury cruises around the Western Isles of Scotland. In recent times , the ship’s itineraries have been extended to include Ireland, the Orkney and Shetland islands, the Norwegian Fjords and France.

DSCN6865

West India Dock 2015

The ship is 72 metres long with a  beam of 14 metres, gross tonnage of  2112 and an average speed 12 knots (14 miles per hour). There are only 30 bedrooms on board, all named after West Coast Scottish islands, castles, sounds, lochs and bays – individually designed in the style of a large country hotel – with 10 cabins specifically designed for single occupancy.  With 50 guests looked after by a crew of around 38, The ship is very popular for cruises around the Scottish Isles where her size allows access to many locations not accessible to larger cruise ships.

DSCN6866

West India Dock 2015

The ships transformation from humble car ferry to luxury cruise ship was given a royal seal of approval when HM Queen Elizabeth II chartered the entire ship for a ‘family holiday’ around the Scottish Islands both in 2006 and 2010. It was estimated the charter cost was £125,000 for the use of the ship.

MV Hebridean Princess is one of the most unusual cruise ships in service and is always an interesting visitor to London.

Many thanks to Eric for the photographs.

Superyacht Elandess, BNS Crocus and other ships on the Thames


Sitting at Westferry Circus in the warm weather is one of the delights of living on the Isle of Dogs. It is a very good location to watch the various ships going up and down the river. In quick succession, two very different ships passed by.

The first was the very large super yacht called Elandess, the 244 ft yacht was on its maiden voyage after being built by Abeking & Rasmussen in Germany at their Bremen shipyard. Elandess has been designed to accommodate up to 14 guests overnight in 7 cabins and can carrying up to 24 crew onboard.

The cost of the new yacht is estimated at 75 million pounds and the owner is reported to be Travelex founder Sir Lloyd Dorfman.

The second vessel was the more familiar BNS Crocus (M917) of the Belgian Navy which is a Tripartite-class minehunter.

This type of vessel is very common amongst NATO ships and this one was making its way up to Tower Bridge.

With more limited vessels in West India Dock, a seat overlooking the Thames can be very rewarding for ship watching.

I was not the only one watching the river over the past few days, Eric Pemberton kindly sent me a couple of photographs which included cruise liner Viking Star and old favourite The Portwey which is usually berthed in West India Dock.

Morgenster Tall Ship on the Thames

Walking near to Westferry Circus, I saw the unmistakable sails of a tall ship and hurried to see which ship it was. To my surprise it was the Morgenster which reminded me of one of my great experiences from last year.

Morgenster was one of the ships taking part in the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta and I was fortunate to be invited to take a trip on the Morgenster from Woolwich to Greenwich.

Whilst I have seen a lot of Tall Ships in West India Dock and at Greenwich and occasionally been on board to have a look around, actually sailing on a ship down the Thames was a wonderful experience.

There was something special about being under sail even in the safe confines of the Thames, before I get carried away it is worth mentioning that for the crew it is more hard work bringing down the sails and carrying out various duties. It did give me some insight into how much work would be involved sailing one of these ships across the Atlantic.

The Morgenster or  (Morning Star in Dutch) is a sail training ship based in the Netherlands. She was originally built, as a herring lugger under the name De Vrouw Maria, in 1919. In 1927, she was converted into a motor fishing vessel. She was renamed Morgenster in 1959 and continued to be used as a fishing vessel until 1970. After a period of use for sport fishing and a pirate radio station, she was converted back to a sailing vessel in 1983. She made her maiden voyage as a sail training ship in 2008, having been refitted as a brig.

She certainly looked a magnificent sight as she meandered her way along the Thames on her way to Tower Bridge.

RFA Argus in Greenwich

For those at the bottom end of the Island, the arrival of the RFA Argus in Greenwich provides considerable interest.

The RFA Argus is one of the more unusual ships in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary operated by the MoD under the Blue Ensign. The ship was built in Italy as the container ship MV Contender Bezant. The ship was requisitioned in 1982 for service in the Falklands War and purchased outright in 1984 for use as an Aviation Training Ship.

Before the ship entered service, the ship spent four-years at Harland and Wolff in Belfast to be converted from a container ship into a hospital ship.  In 1991, during the Gulf War, she was fitted with a fully functional hospital to assume the additional role of Primary Casualty Receiving Ship.

The unusual layout of the ship allows the ship to be used for aviation training when small helicopters can land on flight deck.

Since its conversion, the RFA Argus has been seen service in Bosnia, Kosovo, Middle East and Sierra Leone and many other areas.

The ship has undergone upgrades to its hospital functions with its Primary Casualty Receiving Facility consisting of over 40 different medical and surgical specialties, and is manned by personnel drawn from the MOD Hospital Units and Royal Marine Band Service.

The unit has a state-of-the-art emergency department, resuscitation and surgical facilities, a radiology suite that includes a CT scanner, a critical care unit, a high dependency unit and a 70-bed general ward.

Argus is generally stationed at her home port of Falmouth in Cornwall.

Although we have often seen the HMS Ocean berthed at Greenwich, it is rare to see the RFA Argus with its very unusual design.

Tall Ships Festival Firework Display by L Katiyo

One of the popular aspects of the Tall Ships Festival is the evening firework displays, even from the top of the Island they looked more spectacular than normal this year.

Fortunately, regular contributor L. Katiyo was on hand to get some photographs of the evening’s display.

The Tall Ship Festivals are a wonderful celebration of all things maritime and are enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people over the four days.

We are fortunate on the Island to be surrounded on three sides by the Thames which gives us wonderful views of the various maritime events.

The river seemed very quiet after the last few days and we can now look forward to the next event.

Congratulations to all involved for another amazing event that pays homage to London’s maritime past and provides opportunities for young people to undertake adventures of a lifetime.