St. Katherine’s Dock in London

The time Kincsem spent in Hamburg was put to great use for boat projects and visits with friends and family.  Kincsem now has a second hydrogenerator, the missing wind generator was replaced and she also got a Starlink satellite internet system, which I installed on a provisional basis for the trip to the UK.   It was a busy 10 days! 


Getting to London from Hamburg is not an easy sail.  For one, there are multiple shipping lanes from the English Channel to the German Bight which are official traffic separation zones for the big ships.  We cannot enter those except to cross them at a right angle.  And then the space between these shipping lanes is literally plastered with wind farms which we also are not permitted to enter.  So the options are (1) making a big loop to the North and then West to the English coast to avoid all this or (2) going inside the shipping lanes, within a few miles of the many Frisian islands and their estuaries.  But with a westerly wind, option 2 becomes even more difficult since it would require tacking every ½ hour or so to stay between the beach of the islands and the inside shipping lane.  This small strip of navigable water is littered with wrecks and shallow areas.  And then there are very few harbors in the islands deep enough for Kincsem, Borkum being the only one in the German islands, which are so far apart that they cannot be reached in a day’s sail.     


Deploying the second Watt & Sea hydrogenerator



The crew to London: Almut, Rainer and Matthias, Almut’s brother



After we passed this monstrosity, the Hamburg harbor was closed to all other traffic


With westerly winds forecast for the foreseeable future, for all those reasons, we did option (1), leaving Hamburg and then Cuxhaven in a Northwesterly breeze.  We passed Helgoland to the East and tacked West as the sun went down.  The beam of the Helgoland lighthouse was visible for a long time.  After two days, we had made it to the longitude of Terschelling, beating upwind all the time, with many tacks to dodge wind farms or to take advantage of small wind shifts.  It was not pleasant for the crew, particularly during the first night with over 20 knots of wind, but Kincsem is a big girl and she was fine!     We were now at a decision point brought about by a blow forecast a couple of days out.  We wanted to be moored or anchored somewhere safe before that.  The weather routing showed that it would be difficult to make it to the English coast before the blow, but Ijmuiden in Holland was easier to reach.  Ijmuiden, on the other hand, is still almost 150 miles from the mouth of the Thames, straight upwind to the West, and would require crossing an area full of shipping lanes, oil rigs and wind farms between the Dutch and the English coasts. 



We were reluctantly planning on Ijmuiden at this stage but then we got lucky:  the wind died much more than forecast so we could make good progress going straight west under engine.   This area is full of production platforms and wind farms but under engine, they are easier to deal with than tacking upwind under sail!  Late evening of our third day we entered the busy container port of Harwich and anchored in the river Stour in somewhat pleasant surroundings.   We spent 2 days at anchor there waiting out the blow, with the entire crew busy doing boat projects to the skipper’s delight!  Among other things, Rainer and Matthias installed remote WIFI switches for the Starlink and the deck lights.  This being a crew of engineers, a good time was had by all! 



Our anchorage in the river Stour


The English East coast around the mouth of the Thames is not a tourist spot.  Production platforms, wind farms, and commercial shipping facilities everywhere.  You combine that with many shallow areas, shifting sands, fog and rain and 4 to 6 meter tides, sailing is a challenge and one wants to leave quickly!  Luckily, at this point the winds had turned to the North and we were able to sail to the mouth of the River Thames on a pleasant reach, albeit mostly in the rain.    We anchored in a narrow creek among mud flats, with a defunct container port in sight when you looked north, and mud banks in all other directions.  I do not agree with the handbook which claims that East Coast mud is an attraction in and of itself.  What were we doing here?  Fair question -  this is the best place to wait for the flood tide to sail up the Thames to London.

Stangate creek anchorage


So we were on our way the next morning.  The river is not much of tourist attraction either until you get within 10 miles of the Tower Bridge.   Then, a veritable orgy of attractions starts.  Funky buildings abound, cable cars cross the river, the Cutty Sark is moored right next to the fairway, Indoor Skydiving awaits, etc.  etc.  There is an amazing amount of high class living space right on the Thames and there is very little of the run down buildings you would see everywhere in US cities such as New York City or San Francisco.

The Prospect of Whitby – a whole series of race boats bears the name of this pub – I wonder why?


And then, one final turn of the river, and the Tower Bridge blocked our way.  Amazing sight!  The St. Katherine’s marina is right in front of the bridge, through a hole in the wall on the right.  The hole turns out to be a lock which leads to a lovely interior basin without wind or tide.  Phantastic place!  The only downside is that our view of the Tower Bridge from our dock space is blocked by an ugly hotel.



  1. Thanks for having me the first time on board of Kincsem, Joerg! This trip was a special experience for me, sailing on a true blue water yacht with all amenities. She sails well in heavy winds and bouncing waves, and the center cockpit shields you well against wind and rain. This is very different from my small trimaran, a Dragonfly 28 performance. Long distance sailing on Kincsem is an easy task. On my trimaran it's a harder job, but you reach your destination faster. Anyway, night sailing is clearly easier on Kincsem, while I am looking for a protected bay or a harbor on my trimaran sails through the Baltic Sea. Then sleeping is easy, staying close to shore with my dagger board, rudder and outbord engine lifted up. Each boat has its own purpose, and I am happy to experience both sides, the long distance going blue water munohull and the "fast and furious", shallow water going multi hull. THANKS !!! Matthias

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