On Saturday 6th August 2016 Phil Collins (skipper), John (mate), Francois, Alan, Melissa, Ludovic, Martin Skipper, Clara and Kevin met at HMS President to travel aboard Londinium 1 to Gravesend for a ceremony with the Gravesend Maritime Volunteer Service (MVS) Unit to dedicate the new MVS Standard (a ceremonial flag). The new Standard will be used by the MVS at ceremonial occasions throughout the year, including Remembrance Sunday and Merchant Navy Day. This demonstrates a commitment by the MVS to help keep alive the maritime traditions of this country. Shortly after 07:00h we departed from HMS President on the ebb tide, accompanied by a few yachts who were also taking advantage of the good weather and tidal conditions. During the journey all crew had the opportunity to take the helm and familiarise themselves with nautical charts and the GPS system. Phil Collins also explained to the crew what different buoys were on the Thames. On arrival at Gravesend Town Pier we berthed astern of the Massey Shaw; a former London Fire Brigade fireboat. There were already a lot of people gathering at Gravesend Town Pier, including the local Mayor. Gravesend MVS members welcomed us and showed us around the engine room of the Massey Shaw fireboat. It was interesting to find out that the Massey Shaw played a large role in saving St. Paul's Cathedral during the Blitz, by pumping large amounts of water from the Thames, and that she was also one of the 'Little Ships' that rescued men from Dunkirk. After our tour, Clara and Martin kindly prepared an early lunch for all of us. At 11:00h City of London MVS joined Gravesend Unit on the deck of the Massey Shaw for the dedication ceremony. We paraded in single file on to the deck to face Gravesend Town Pier and many guests. Reverend Jacqueline Littlewood (Chaplain of the Gravesend MVS Unit) lead the service, whilst members of the Merchant Navy Association assisted with the formalities and bugle playing. The service was very moving and was carried out professionally. Afterwards many photos were taken by the local press, and by members of the Maritime Volunteer Service - Ludovic from the City of London MVS took many photos. Following refreshments and introductions of guests, we had the pleasure of taking out a local Councillor and a Deputy Lieutenant on a short trip along the Thames aboard Londinium 1. Our guests thoroughly enjoyed the trip, and both had the opportunity to take the helm and learn more about the Maritime Volunteer Service whilst aboard. We timed the trip well, as at 13:00h there was a demonstration of the fire hoses aboard the Massey Shaw - which Londinum 1 passed beneath. We all got a little wet! After the trip we were greeted by a sea shanty band who were playing Drunken Sailor and A-Roving on Gravesend Town Pier. Later that afternoon we assisted Gravesend MVS and Sailability by taking out a few young ex-offenders on our vessel Londinum 1 on a short trip along the Thames. All the guests very much enjoyed the trip - particularly as many of the guests had never travelled on a boat before. They especially enjoyed getting wet when Londinium 1 once again travelled beneath the jets of water for another fire hose display on the Massey Shaw! After all the excitement of the day, we were invited to attend a BBQ at Gravesend Sailing Club, and some delicious cupcakes were handed around for all to sample! After the BBQ a few members of the City of London Unit took the opportunity to look around the local area, and visited a beautiful Sikh temple nearby. Some members chose to spend the night in Gravesend, where Alan (from the Gravesend MVS Unit) kindly treated those who were staying over to a late supper in the sailing club. The following day everyone made their way to Gravesend Town Pier again for a final display of the fire hoses on the Massey Shaw. Then both Londinium 1 and the Massey Shore made their way back towards London. All in all a very enjoyable weekend, and thanks goes to the Merchant Navy Association for their kind donation towards the cost of the MVS Standard.
On Saturday 9th July 2016 the City of London Maritime Volunteer Service took part in a cruise to mark the opening of the waterways around the Olympic Park in east London. The cruise was arranged by the IWA, St Pancras Cruising Club, London Legacy Development Corporation and Canal & River Trust. Myself, Alan and Francois joined the cruise and explored the Bow Back Rivers. Myself and Alan Murrill met early on Saturday morning to prepare Seax, our Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) for the cruise. We were both really looking forward to exploring the waterways in a different area of London, and excitedly proceeded along the Thames towards Limehouse where we entered the canal network. After some pre-cruise exploring of the waterways (and lowering our radio aerial which was too high to pass under many of the bridges on our route!), we slowly made our way along to the starting point at Three Mills where we were warmly greeted by the organisers. There, we were handed more information about the route we'd take, and were also invited to join a pre-cruise talk. As another space was available on the cruise, Francois also joined us at Three Mills. Three Mills was an interesting area and we found out the site was previously used for corn milling for over a thousand years. In more recent times Three Mills became a centre for grinding grain and distilling alcohol for the gin industry - until the remaining mills closed during the war in the 1940s. Shortly after midday, we set off on the cruise around the Olympic Park. There were over sixty other boats that were taking part in the cruise, along with twenty paddle craft. We cruised slowly along the waterways, which gave us plenty of time to enjoy the scenery and sites. When we were cruising along the Lea Navigation it felt like we weren't even in London - until we approached the Olympic Park Stadium which was very impressive to see close-up! Unfortunately the weather meant the planned tidal extension route of the cruise was cancelled. We definitely found that out as we proceeded back out of Limehouse Marina onto the Thames. It quickly became a bumpy ride back over all the white caps! Overall we all thoroughly enjoyed practising our boating skills, entering locks along the waterways, and exploring different areas within London. We look forward to the waterways being fully re-opened later this year once the Crossrail works are complete - and for the the next organised cruise planned in 2017.
On Thursday the 23rd June, members of the City of London Maritime Volunteer Service (MVS) assisted the Lower Thames Unit of the MVS and Gravesend Sailability, with an event that enabled disabled people from the charity KASBAH the opportunity to travel on boats along the Thames. City of London MVS members assisted with setting up the mobility crane (which enabled people in wheelchairs to be lifted onto the boats), and helped launch the newly refurbished Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) Annie from a crane into the waters below. Before the event began City of London MVS members Alan Murrill and Melissa Goulton had time to get acquainted with Agnes J, an ex-lifeboat with an inboard engine and tiller steering. Learning to steer Agnes J took a bit of getting used to the bow of the boat moved in the opposite direction to the direction the tiller was moved! After the guests arrived, Rodney Morgan gave a short safety briefing about how to board Agnes J safely. Then Melissa and Rodney took a few of the guests for a short trip out of Gravesend sailing club. On this trip Melissa practised mooring alongside other vessels, and alongside the pontoon. All the guests seemed to enjoy the opportunity of being out on the water, and it was lovely to see the friendships that guests had formed with MVS and Sailability members. Meanwhile Alan Murrill, another City of London member, spent time aboard Annie with Lower Thames member Alan Metcalf - where they took guests for a much faster ride along the Thames! Towards the end of the day, Melissa boarded the vessel Alicia (a 33 ft concrete-hulled sailing yacht owned and operated by Sailability) with guests and some of their carers. Unfortunately there wasn't much wind, but everyone aboard had the opportunity to take the helm and secure ropes to winches, as well as learning more about recreational sailing. Overall, it was a really good day out, and it was great to know that MVS members enabled guests from KASBAH the opportunity to enjoy spending time on the water "messing about in boats!".
The City of London MVS is planning a training and fundraising event over the weekend of 28th – 30th October 2016 in the western end of the Brecon Beacons - a bleak yet beautiful mountain range in South Wales. The weekend will consist of a number of walks over the rugged terrain of the Brecon Beacons, which will introduce mountain walking to MVS members, and provide an opportunity to fundraise for the MVS (friends and family can sponsor those attending the weekend). Ian Roberts is organising the weekend and is a life-long mountain walker who has undertaken mountain walking in the Lake District, Snowden, Ben Nevis, the Brecon Beacons, and the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Mountain walking is different to what the MVS normally does, but like water-borne activities, mountain walking relies on teamwork and can also be fun (even when there is inclement weather…). The weekend will be based in Llanddeusant in Carmarthenshire, a beautiful part of the country where sheep and cattle farming comprise an important part of the local economy. Many abandoned lime quarries can also be found within the local landscape. Accommodation will be provided at a Youth Hostel in Llanddeusant - a lovely venue that has a fully equipped self catering kitchen, showers & toilets, central heating and good, comfortable beds. Please see the photos below of the accommodation. Food and drink (especially tea) will be provided for those attending the weekend and dietary requirements can be catered for as long as sufficient notice is provided. It is recommended that those coming on the weekend bring some “nutty” (naval slang for chocolate)! The walks planned for the weekend have been organised with beginners in mind -they should not be too strenuous. Additionally, those who don't want to carry out mountain walking can help out with other activities during the weekend. For more information please contact Ian Roberts through email@example.com or on 0785 178 5382.
On Saturday the 11th of June 2016, members of City of London and Lower Thames MVS units took part in the Queen’s Royal flotilla to celebrate Her Majesty’s 90th birthday. The MVS was specifically asked by the organisers of the Queen's Royal Barge (Gloriana) to provide marshalling services on the day. Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) Seax from City of London MVS and Annie from Lower Thames MVS ensured that man-powered vessels in the Flotilla remained in formation and were protected from faster-moving, motorised river traffic. Members of the City of London and Lower Thames MVS units met up at 0900 at HMS President, near St Katherine Docks prior to the event - which was due to start at 1100. The two main vessels in the flotilla – Gloriana and Havengore – moored up at HMS President before heading towards Lambeth Palace with all the other vessels in the flotilla. It was a pleasant journey up to Lambeth Bridge. Annie travelled behind Gloriana on the southern side of the Thames, and Seax travelled along the northern bank of the Thames. At 1205 Seax and Annie assisted with marshalling vessels when the flotilla turned around to head back to St Katherine Docks. The journey back was definitely more eventful for the MVS! The MVS stopped motorised tourist RIBs splitting the flotilla on many occasions; and Annie even prevented Gloriana from running aground near HMS Belfast when she was trying to complete a manoeuvre! The MVS also had to order two tourist vessels away as they were blocking Gloriana mooring at HMS President. Overall the flotilla made it back to HMS President earlier than expected, and it was clear the MVS contributed to the success of the day - by ensuring that all vessels made it back safely. Thanks goes to members from City of London (Zadie Vaca, Dávid Vajnai, Martin Molloy, Francois Miguelez and Eamon Hynes) and Lower Thames MVS (Michael Hegarty, Kevin Marshall, Alan Metcalf) who contributed their time and maritime skills during the flotilla. Thanks also goes to members who came along to cheer the MVS on at the sidelines and join us for a celebratory drink afterwards!