City of London MVS joins the Queen Elizabeth Park Cruise

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.
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The Clock Mill at Three Mills in Bow

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Alan and Francois aboard Seax looking forward to the cruise!

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Boaters gather around for the pre-cruise talk

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!
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Some of the other boats that were on the Queen Elizabeth Park Cruise

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The Olympic stadium seen from the waterways!

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The ArcelorMittal Orbit in the Olympic Park

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.