Dunkirk at the Docks

The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships (ADLS) puts on a reunion of its members each year—the ADLS Memorial Cruise—around the end of May, the anniversary of the evacuation, and Endeavour always tries to attend.

This year, St Katharine Dock Marina was chosen as the venue from Thursday 23rd to Monday 27th (next year it will be in the Port of Dunkirk itself).
So, it was on the high tide of Wednesday 22nd that Endeavour slipped her moorings off the Peter Boat pub in the Old Town and, with a skeleton crew of Chris Burls and Alan Barttram, motored round to a borrowed mooring in Holehaven Creek on Canvey Island. This location was chosen because it is possible to get people on board even at low tide from the Holehaven causeway, increasing the amount of time we can be on the water—useful when you’ve got a few miles to motor!

At 0800 on the Thursday, Endeavour nosed up to the end of the causeway and collected six Trust members, who had opted to join her on the trip upriver and drop off Alan, who was needed at home. 

"Definitely not a typical warm summer day, but cloudy and windy,” observed member Penny Oswald, who joined Endeavour with friend Sue. “With the tide coming in and the enthusiasm of the crew, we proceeded up the Thames with a brilliant running commentary from Andy, one of the regular crew.

"Andy was so knowledgeable about the long history of the Thames, the various forts and buildings on the shore, and the industries which were carried out in past times; thank you!

"We were even lucky enough to spot a seal en route, who popped up close by."

Chris’s passage plan was to ride the flood tide up to Tower Bridge, which was achieved without too much fuss, though the members had a slightly different take on it…
"The Thames was surprisingly rough, with  wind over tide,” recalled Penny, “We made good progress, although a bit scary with all the river traffic and passing through the Thames Barrier.  The Uber clippers certainly nip up and down at a vast rate of knots, and not all of them slowed down for a gracious old lady!"

Endeavour arrived off the marina lock, overlooked by Tower Bridge, at 1:30pm.

"Locking in is always fun to watch the skill of some (our skipper particularly) and the total hash that some people make with their ropes and under-estimating the power of the current, but we all made it very safely into a snug berth with all the other wonderful old heroes (the boats, of course) who did so much for so many in times of need."

On entering the St Katharine basin, there were twenty or so Little Ships already in their allocated spots and looking very smart dressed overall. Once Endeavour was secure in her berth, no time was lost dressing her to match.

Over the weekend, the fleet was open to the public for inspection. Endeavour is always popular because we’re happy to let people come aboard for a look around.

Several of the Trust’s members also took the opportunity to come up by train and have a close-up look at the boat from a secure pontoon.

On the Sunday, late afternoon, the pontoons were shut to the public and a Service of Remembrance was held for those troops and Little Ships that did not make it home.

The forecast for the Monday was for wind and rain, which is probably the reason for a lack of interest in the return voyage to Holehaven.

However, at the last moment four brave souls volunteered to join the boat. As it turned out, the rain was intermittent and the trip would be enjoyed by all!

“What an amazing experience!" said member Mary Yiannoullou, who joined for the return leg. "Me, my husband Tony, and my brother and sister-in-law, Barry and Darcy, had such an enjoyable and memorable trip on the Endeavour.

"The cruise downriver from St Katharine Dock to Canvey Island enabled us to participate and mark the occasion in a truly unique way, and see and experience our great landmarks very differently. The amazing crew were informative, knowledgeable and inclusive - we even got to steer her!"

Locking out at 2:45pm, Endeavour made her way downriver, arriving at the Holehaven causeway at 7:45pm to land all but the skeleton crew of Chris and Roy Edwards .

Once again, the night was spent on the borrowed mooring, with Endeavour returning to her permanent mooring in Leigh early on the Tuesday afternoon tide. Another successful voyage!

A video of this ADLS meet may be seen on the YouTube channel ‘Thames Ships’, below—go to 14:23 for a short section focussing on Endeavour.

Don’t forget to check our schedule of activities on our website and book your trip!

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