RMS St Helena (II) in London
A special trip was required on the 7th June 2016 to see the only working Royal Mail Ship, St Helena.  The second ship to bear the name after Union-Castle Line ceased to exist in 1977, this 6767grt little passenger/cargo ship cutie debuted in 1990.  She had arrived at Tilbury on what could be her final UK call on the 5th June.  She would return to Tilbury on the 10th, be loaded on the 13th and set sail for Cape Town on the 14th.  Originally scheduled to retire in Cape Town on the 15th July due to the new airport on the island, she had three round trips from the South African port added between the 16th July and 27th September.  If the ever get the crosswinds problem sorted and open the airport, then she will no longer be required.  The Tower Bridge lift was scheduled for 4.45pm.  It was raining which was no help especially since I didn't take a jacket!  Boots at Waterloo were doing a roaring trade in umbrellas so could charge the earth!  A poncho was also purchased from a vendor by Tower Bridge.  The sailing barge, Lady Daphne, an occasional Southampton caller and over one hundred years old, arrived then sailed out again, passing the star of the show.  By now it had thankfully stopped raining.  St Helena gave one blast as she neared Tower Bridge, towed by ZP Bear and SD Deal.  I had to do a double take when I saw the tender going back and forth between HMS Belfast.  Identical to Uriah Heep, which White Horse Ferries decided to replace Hotspur IV with on the Hythe ferry run despite being totally unsuitable, the Thames Swift was a sister!  Originally called Wilkins Micawber and built in 1996 she was sold to Thames Luxury Charters

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© Patricia Dempsey 7th June 2016
Not to be reproduced without permission