London to Erith

15 nautical miles – about 28 km

Let me apologize for being so late, but things have been quite intense over the past few days.

The stretch of the Thames running from the London Bridge to the Thames Barrier (a lock preventing London from being flooded by high tides) is a delirium.

The sadness of the landscape, full of large, awful buildings and skyscrapers without any measure, pairs with the arrogance of Clippers Captains that make huge waves upon the river, causing complete chaos.

Ugliness generates ugliness.

While crossing the Greenwich meridian we are greeted by a nice side wind and we can raise the Main Sail, at last. It seems a good omen, but shortly afterwards the wind changes back and hits our noses…

After Greenwich the landscape keeps looking very sad, inspired by managers of no taste nor culture, then we start seeing the factories and the massive docks, built to house steel monsters of 200 meters or even longer (thanks God it’s Saturday and we don’t meet any of them).

Jacopo almost weeps. Nothing is gentle to us, all seems dirty and oversized. We console ourselves with a few dried apricots and a taste of Marmite, a savoury spread very popular in England.

Then, after Tilbury, the Thames returns to look more natural, despite the industrialization process has left its footprints in several ways. We are downstream for all six hours of navigation: Its power pushes us toward the sea, notwithstanding the opposite wind.

We get to face Erith and we start to think about a place to stop for the night, before the tide changes.

We see a wonderful ferry anchored and a few masts of sailboats: It’s a Sailing Club!

The wind against us is close to 18 knots and rowing is very tough. While we wander around the boas in the deepest stretch of the river, a kind young man, Mark, comes close with his dinghy, asking if we wish to moor.

ErithYes, of course!

In a blink of an eye we are inside the Erith Yacht Club, a very quiet, genuine and cozy place, full of generous souls.

A friend from Malta gives lots of help; Anne, a gorgeous lady, makes us a hot coffee and shows where we can set up our tents; Guy and David offer their boat (a steel Van der Stadt that crossed the Atlantic ocean) for the night to the filmmaking crew that has joined us in the meanwhile.

Syd, a master boatbuilder, fascinates us with his tales about the wooden boats they’re trying to restore. Visit their website to read more.

Then we fire up the stove to cook an unsalted cous-cous (we don’t own any salt whatsoever): At last we jump into the tent and over the glorious mattresses made by Stefania Carniato of Imbotex, for a memourable sleep.

I forgot to tell you about them.

In the morning we wait for the high tide, then we set off, helped by a gentle tailwind.

Thanks to all our friends from the Erith Yacht Club: You gave us your help and your warmth. See you soon, I hope.

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