River Thames Scenic Trips
13 to 15 July 2018
Our steaming season began rather later than usual this year which gave us the opportunity to complete the extensive (and expensive!) winter refurbishment programme which included replacement of the wooden rubbing strake and supporting metalwork around the stern and also fitting new furnace fire bars. During the winter months the boiler had been stripped down as far as possible, thoroughly de-scaled, checked by the marine surveyor, and reassembled.
On Tuesday 10 July, with 10 tonnes of Welsh coal loaded and the water tanks filled, the fires were lit (small at first so as not to heat all the heavy metal too quickly) and on the Wednesday a boiler hot test was carried out, again with the surveyor present.
With all the safety valves operated and checked successfully Portwey left South Quay for her first steaming trip at 1200hrs on Friday 13 July. This "Working Lock Experience" trip is always popular as it involves Portwey being lowered from dock level to to river Thames level and a large road bridge has to be raised as well.
There followed two 2 hour scenic trips where Portwey steamed between Tower Bridge and the Thames Barrier.
Saturday and Sunday saw more 2 hour scenic trips undertaken before Portwey returned to her berth at South Quay.
Thames Barge Match
Weekend 20 - 22 July
The boiler was still quite hot after the previous weekend's steaming so lighting the fires could be delayed by 24 hours thereby saving expensive coal (£330 per tonne!).
At 1500hrs on Friday 20 July Portwey steamed out into the Thames and headed down river towards Gravesend. Unfortunately this trip was made against the incoming tide so took longer than usual but Portwey was safely secured alongside Gravesend Pier by 1830hrs.
Saturday dawned fine and calm and that is how it was for most of the day with the result that the Thames Barges were mostly becalmed.
It was only at the very end of the race that the wind picked up so the barges made a fine sight as they crossed the finishing line at speed. Once secured back alongside Gravesend Pier the crew were able to relax ashore.
On Sunday Portwey left Gravesend Pier and steamed in front of the pier at full speed for the benefit of a visiting film crew before heading back up river to South Quay.
St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival
7 - 9 September 2018
Once again Portwey was invited to St Katharine Docks for the Classic Boat Festival which was this year held over three days.
Portwey steamed from South Quay to St Katharine Docks on Thursday 6 September and was open to the public for all three days of the festival. The fires were kept small so that there was just enough steam to blow the very loud whistle! The festival was surprisingly busy considering the cloudy and rather cool weather so the crew were constantly showing groups of visitors around all day.
On Monday 10 September Portwey steamed back to South Quay where she now resides for the winter while essential maintenance is carried out.