Route from St Kats to the Crouch

Sowenna

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Afternoon all

In June we are planning a trip from St Katherines Dock to the river Crouch. We want to break the journey up as much as possible as we have a dog (but I appreciate it might be better to do it in one go). Can you offer me any advice on:

1. When to leave St Kats, I think the window is 4 hours around high water.
2. Whether and where to stop on the way? (eg Gravesend?)
3. Any navigation tips (eg when to arrive at the Crouch)
4. What to do once on the Crouch (where to moor, where to cruise)
5. Any tips for the journey back.

Sorry for the long list but would really like to learn from your experience (this is our first sea trip, in our steel cruiser).

Ta John
 

CLB

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Im assuming displacement cruising, if so, work those tides. Aim to be in the estuary at Low water so you can carry the tide down the Thames and again into the crouch. You'll need to do the sums at your cruising speed, plus a little tide under you, but I would think leaving around HW+2 at St Kats or similar should do it. Nowhere really to stop en-route, unless you take a detour up the Merdeway. Moor at Burnham Marina. Have up to date charts/cartography and stay in the wet bits. It's quite a long way around Maplin sands.
 

Sowenna

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Thanks CLB, great tips. Yes, we are displacement, will probably cruise around 7-8 knots. I'll work it out but any idea on rough cruise times to the estuary then the Crouch?
 

oldgit

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A really good chance to use tides to your best advantage on this trip.
"Ideally" leave St Kats on first lock out, punch tide for a couple of hours and use the ebb to get you down Sea Reach and across Swatchway to Queenborough.
Moor on visitor bouy (£25) prebook, and use trot boat to go ashore for vittals, dog friendly, decent nights kip.
Gravesend can be rather exposed and bouncy.
Next day plan to be off the Whittiker Bouy at mouth of Crouch around LW.

This means using the ebb to help you up the Essex coast to the mouth of Crouch and use the flood to carry you up to Burnham.Easy but dull trip up, bouys tend to appear a bit far apart, any decent chartplotter should assure you are on course.
Keep an eye on depth sounder.
Cruising at 6/7 knots the tide can add a couple of knots to you your speed over the ground reducing journey times by an hour or more and saving fuel.
Break half way can let you reconsider your options if weather not playing ball.
Wind is the only thing to keep an eye on, for comfort, no brisk Easterly in the forecast especially if big tides.
Some of us use the webcams on IOSSC to have a crafty look at the Esturary before departure.
Only fuel before Burnham will be a deter up to Gillingham so full tanks.
 
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Bru

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Dunno about the buoys being a bit far apart in the Whittaker channel and outer Crouch! Since they laid the new buoys for the Wallasea Island project some years ago it's like joining the dots!!!!

If approaching the Whittaker Spit from the Middle Deep around low water to catch a fair tide into the Crouch (a good plan), do NOT be tempted to cut the corner! Depending on draft, for absolute peace of mind keep going until you are almost abeam the Whitaker cardinal mark. If you do cut across once the Inner Whitaker is on your stern quarter, go steady and watch the depth sounder. Don't put too much faith in the 2m plus soundings East of the Inner Whitaker cardinal.

Once in the Crouch, you have options at Burnham - Burnham Yacht Harbour is walk ashore, all the usual services. Essex Marina on the other side is less attractive to visitors as there isn't much to do over that side. You can anchor or pick up a buoy but it isn't the most visitor friendly option (it can get very bouncy, visitor moorings are a bit ad-hoc etc.)

Upriver, Fambridge Yacht Station is a peaceful spot and dog friendly. Moor on the river pontoon or pick up a buoy. You may be able to get a berth in the marina too, contact them if that's preferred. Be aware however that the Ferry Boat Inn is currently closed and about to undergo (another) refurbishment to the only eating and drinking option at the moment is the café / bar in the marina which is a reasonable walk from the yacht station.

There's various anchorages but none that really lend themselves to dinghying ashore with a dog. Paglesham may get mentioned but it's effectively out of bounds now as the current owners of the boatyard actively discourage visitors from landing there

Oh and I agree with Oldgit that the only really viable place to break the trip into two legs that has shore access is Queenborough. You may be able to moor on the All Tide Landing if there's room (contact the harbourmaster) and avoid the dinghy / trot boat ashore
 

Sowenna

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CLB, Bru and Oldgit, some great tips there, thank you. Does anyone have any idea on rough cruise times? Need to think about the breaking up the journey point, which sounds good.
 

STOL71

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I'd go into Hole Haven instead of Queenborough - it means you don't have to enter the Medway and you can continue on the north shore past Shoebury next day. Hole Haven is quite shallow on entering but 2.5 m chart datum further in. There is no shore access but there's a slip way to land and launch your tender. Nice food at the Lobster Smack behind the sea wall. Hole Haven is a lovely little bolt hole that's free of charge!
St Katherine's dock: they'll charge an arm and a leg - better off staying on the all tight pontoon at Greenwch Yacht Club an hour downriver from St Kats on the south shore. Shower facilities etc all there.
 

oldgit

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I'd go into Hole Haven.St Katherine's dock: they'll charge an arm and a leg - better off staying on the all tight pontoon at Greenwch Yacht Club an hour downriver from St Kats on the south shore. Shower facilities etc all there.

Suspect this trip is supposed to be a pleasure cruise and may well include the fairer sex, not a 100% bloke training exercise for entry to the the SAS.
Not completely convinced either, if the view of the ballast wharfs near GYC quite match up to the view from Tower Bridge of the City at night. :):):).
Will dig out my old logs and get some timings for you.Have done both trips at around 6-8 knots.
If you do spash out on St Kats, can recommend a decent restuarant just outside docks in Wapping High St, rather than eat in the franchised outfits nearbye.
However to option of heating a Fray Bentos pie and a mug of tea aboard remains an option !
Downside of St Kats, listening to the helicopters flying overhead, downside of GYC, listening to the Arco Avon unloading ballast at 02.00
 
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Bru

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Limehouse is a viable (and IMO preferable) alternative to St. Kats. A bit cheaper, a bit less goldfish bowl, still within easy reach of the city via the DLR
 

Leighb

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Another alternative is South Dock, on the other side of the river but half the price of St Kat’s and with a wider range of locking times depending on your draft.
Reasonable showers on site, small Tesco’s nearby and some pubs and other eateries in the area.
 

Bru

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Vis passage times …

I've got the route from St. Kats to Burnham Yacht Harbour in my passage planning database so assuming an 06:00 lockout (the earliest they open the lock), depending on which day (and the lock doesn't always open that early of course) you're looking at around 9 and a half hours at 7 knots (10:38 without tidal influence, it's 73 miles) but you'll probably better that as the tidal data for the upper reaches of the Thames isn't available in my software

At 6 knots you're looking at 11 to 12 hours

I wouldn't be worrying overly much about what the tide is doing if locking out of St. Kats, Limehouse or South Dock. Just get out as early in the locking sequence as you can and get going! It's the lock times that constrain you rather than the tide times (albeit, of course, that the two are intimately related!)

At anything between 6 and 8 knots through the water, you should get a fair tide all the way once it turns in your favour after locking out

The caveat is that if you drop to 5 knots through the water, you'll miss the tide into the Crouch and you'll be punching it all the way from the top end of the Maplin onwards and looking at getting on for 15 hours passage time (at 5 knots it doesn't help much picking a day when you lock out a couple of hours before HW, what you gain by getting on the tail end of the flood up the Crouch you lose punching the tide down the Thames! Might save half an hour at best)

So if you can't maintain at least 6 knots through the water, breaking the trip into two legs becomes a very attractive proposition

I can run the calcs in a few minutes with specific dates, it's no hardship (I LIKE passage planning :D )
 

oldgit

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Limehouse and South Dock are OK (ish) if you are looking to save a few coppers (check and compare prices ) you will not be saving as much as you think.
Limehouse is fine if you fancy a Indian on the A12 but its the DLR if you want to get out...and bang goes your marina savings.
Been in South Dock several times, really is at the back of nowhere with nothing interesting walkable and only way way out via Clipper and there goes your marina savings.Cheapest way out in and out is cab.One decent pub, the wibbly wobbly bar and thats it.
You might be able to get a berth in Chelsea but thats really too far up to be a useful stop and bit sterile .Good bogs tho !
The Heritage Mooring just below St Kats are no no unless you have 30 m LOA and weight 50 tonnes.:)
 
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Aquafan

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I like Limehouse it has better access times than St Kats from memory about 3.5hrs either side of H/W with a one meter draught and the friendly lock keepers will let you in and out whenever you like. And the Grapes is a two minute walk which is a great pub and with a great little restaurant upstairs ... you need to book.
 

oldgit

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I like Limehouse it has better access times than St Kats from memory about 3.5hrs either side of H/W with a one meter draught and the friendly lock keepers will let you in and out whenever you like. And the Grapes is a two minute walk which is a great pub and with a great little restaurant upstairs ... you need to book.

last time we were in there Gandalfs staff was on display.
 

oldgit

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Think all those pubs backing onto the river have their merits, although one or two do tend to cater for a younger more boisterous crowd.
 

Sowenna

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Bru, thanks for those timings and the offer of further help. We can happily cruise at 9 knots with the tide, not had much experience against it, but she definitely works quite hard. I'm going to St Kats at Easter, so can turn against the flow and see how she goes. Obviously would prefer to work with the tide as much as poss.
Not sure of the dates as yet, will be around 5 June.
Ta John
Thanks to everyone else for the tips too, will catch up on them properly this week.
 

STOL71

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Suspect this trip is supposed to be a pleasure cruise and may well include the fairer sex, not a 100% bloke training exercise for entry to the the SAS.
Not completely convinced either, if the view of the ballast wharfs near GYC quite match up to the view from Tower Bridge of the City at night. :):):).
Will dig out my old logs and get some timings for you.Have done both trips at around 6-8 knots.
If you do spash out on St Kats, can recommend a decent restuarant just outside docks in Wapping High St, rather than eat in the franchised outfits nearbye.
However to option of heating a Fray Bentos pie and a mug of tea aboard remains an option !
Downside of St Kats, listening to the helicopters flying overhead, downside of GYC, listening to the Arco Avon unloading ballast at 02.00

Just offering viable alternatives, as opposed to making assumptions what the purpose of the trip is and who the OP is having on board.
Having been to St Kats, Queenborough etc, I think they are massively overrated... horses for courses.
 

Bru

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Ideally need to know your optimum / preferred speed through the water without any tidal influence as the software I use will add the tidal influence to that

But it's not terribly critical on this one as at anything over 6 knots through the water, you can pretty much carry a fair tide the whole way

For what it's worth, with the ability to carry a fair tide I wouldn't bother stopping 'cos there's nowhere to stop that is anything other than a place to stop because you need to stop! (If you see what I mean and in my 'umble etc.)
 

Bru

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Ah, 5th of June not so good. No morning locking that day. 7th of June is the first day in that sequence that has a morning locking and that's 45 minutes after HW costing you nearly an hour of fair tide. 8th of June is the first day where you stand a fighting chance of locking out at or before HW (assuming you get in the first locking and they don't dawdle penning you through)
 

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