11-12 June 2017:
London, England:
Through the Tower Bridge to a Farewell and a Welcome Aboard

By Corey Sandler

On a handsome Sunday afternoon, Silver Wind made its grand approach to London, one of my favorite sail-ins anywhere in the world.

Our ship is just the right size to make her way up the River Thames and through the Tower Bridge. All traffic across the river was stopped, and the twin bascule arms of the bridge were raised to let us pass through. This is an experience that never gets old, not for me or the captain, crew, and passengers.

In the morning, as we approached the mouth of the Thames we passed near to the Thames Estuary Mansell Forts, rising from the sea like rusty machines from H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds.

The offshore forts  were built during the Second World War to defend against German minelayers and planes that were seeking to approach London up the watery highway of the river.

Here is a photo I took this morning as we passed nearby the ghostly forts.

We passed between Gravesend on the south bank, and Tilbury on the north. Some larger cruise ships and freighters can come no closer than this.

Pocanontas, the daughter of a chief in Virginia,  was by many accounts the first native American to visit England. After marrying a colonist in America, John Rolfe, she later sailed with him to England where she was received at the court in London and feted as a celebrity.

On the return voyage, seven months later, she was taken ill and died ashore in Gravesend in 1617 at age 21. She is buried under the chancel of St George’s parish church.

Closer to London, we passed through the Thames Barrier, erected to guard against the flooding of much of Greater London by exceptional high tides and storm surges that move up from the North Sea.

In modern times, a flood in 1928 killed 14, and then the North Sea Flood of 1953 killed 307, resulting in the construction of the barrier.

Just short of the Tower Bridge, we crossed over the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, which links Greenwich to the South to the Isle of Dogs in London. The tunnel opened in 1902, built of cast iron rings that extend 1,215 feet of 370 meters; the interior is about 9 feet in diameter–and I can’t recommend it to claustrophobics.

And then finally, the Tower Bridge opened for us. It is close to the Tower of London, from which it takes its name.

The bridge opened in 1894, with two towers tied together above by a pair of horizontal walkways. The roadway pivots upward at each end in a bascule design, like a forearm bending up from the elbow.

To those guests leaving us here in London, I wish you arrivederci, until we meet again. I hope to sail with you again. And to guests joining us here for the next cruise, benvenuto. Welcome aboard.

We’re headed back down the Thames and then up the west coast of Norway to near its top…and then back up the Thames to where we started. Here’s our plan:

After two days in the North Sea, we are due to call at the pretty little village of Flåm, Norway. It is best-known as the lower terminus of a railroad that ascends up from the fjord into the surrounding mountains.

We’ll continue on to Alesund, Svolvaer, Tromso, and Honningsvåg near the top of Norway and close to Nordkapp, the famed north cape of the country.

Then we’ll turn back for more calls in Norway, at Bodo, Trondheim, Molde, Olden, and the wondrous city of Bergen.

I hope you’ll join me here in these pages.

All photos and text Copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

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