Grumpy Bear Too

This is our story of Grumpy Bear Too, our Viking 26 Widebeam cruiser and our participation in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant.  Based at Buckden Marina on the River Great Ouse Grumpy Bear Too is powered by a Honda 35Hp outboard engine.

In June 2012 we were proud to take part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant, a 1000 boat flotilla through London on the Tidal Thames which took place on 3rd June 2012.  Participation was by invitation.   Early in 2012, we were delighted to be invited by Lord Salisbury to take part and the planning for our adventure could begin.

Grumpy Bear Too at the Bedford River Festival 2006

Firstly, there was work to be done on the boat.  Until now, we have used standard portable outboard engine fuel tanks giving us a total capacity of 50 litres with a range, at river cruising speed, of about 100 miles.   This would be insufficient for the Tidal Thames as we would have to make 4 complete trips through London without refuelling.   We had previously  thought about having a larger internal fuel tank fitted (when planning a trip to the Norfolk Broads) – and now was the time to get it done along with the usual routine servicing.   So over the Easter Bank Holiday we moved Grumpy Bear Too from Buckden to Priory Marina in Bedford where the work would be done.  She would sit “on the hard” immediately outside Mike’s office at Walton Training, where work in progress could be monitored .  The engine would also get a good service, and the hull cleaned and polished.  A clean of her bottom and a new coat of antifoul paint would finish off the operation.

There was also the small matter of getting the prepared boat to the Thames.  However, we have done this before so it was an easy choice to contact David at Riverside Marine and Leisure based at the Pike and Eel Marina, Needingworth, Cambs who had served us so well previously.   We booked our transport for Friday 25th May which would give us 6 days pleasant cruising down the Thames to West India Dock (on the Tidal Thames near “The Dome”) where all participating boats have to be inspected by the Port of London Authority and the Met Police.

We will put Grumpy Bear in at Benson Waterfront – again a marina we have used before who understand the meaning of “Customer Service”.   A phone call to them in January was met with the expected first class response and confirmation that we could not only slip in and out at Benson, but also leave our car there in secure parking.   Let’s hope the plan comes together 🙂

the full story of our participation click on “Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant” is detailed in our regular blogs below.  As the tale unravels you will see that the plan did indeed come together.   In particular, the service provided by both Riverside Marine and Leisure, and Benson Waterfront, at both ends of the holiday, was faultless in every way.

Rehearsal on the Thames

Everybody taking part in the pageant has to attend a rehearsal to get an overview of the route and the hazards including bridges along the way.  As we could not get Grumpy Bear Too to London for the weekend we were allocated places on another participants boat – and what a nice boat it was too, a Broom 44.   Fiona and I decided to make a weekend of it staying in London overnight on the Saturday so that we could hit the shops and do the sights.   Then, we were up early on Sunday morning to be at Imperial Wharf Pier for an 0830 briefing and to embark on our host’s boat.   We would follow the pageant route from Richmond to just beyond Tower Bridge, completing various manoeuvres on route including an emergency stop.   We also got to see the temporary mooring buoys being put in by the Port of London Authority where we will moor overnight on Saturday 2nd June immediately before the pageant.

kWork Starts Laying the Temporary Mooring Buoys for Overnight Muster

Work Starts Laying the Temporary Mooring Buoys for Overnight Muster

 The rehearsal went very well; it was great fun going through London 4 abreast through the bridges led by the Port of London Authority Harbour Master on the lead boat.  The emergency stop procedure was very entertaining – lets hope we don’t have to carry it out on the day.

Proceeding Down River
Proceeding Down River

To see a BBC report on the rehearsal including a video clip click here