Thames Estuary

Introduction

This area covers the outer reaches of the Thames Estuary, from Southend on the north side, down to Margate on the south side. It covers the river up to Lower Hope Point, a few miles east of Gravesend.

Although not a typical sea kayaking area, it does offer varied trips including circumnavigations of islands, a sheltered archipelago in the Medway and open crossings to offshore structures.

Times of high water

Sheerness: High water is 1 hours and 30 minutes after high water at Dover Sherness is a standard port.

Upnor: High water is 15 minutes after high water at Sheerness

Tidal streams

West Swale, by Queensborough: The south south-east going stream begins at 5 hours and 55 minutes before high water at Sheerness. The north north-west going stream begins at 1 hours and 5 minutes after high water at Sheerness. The flow reaches a speed of 4 knots at springs. The stream is almost slack for the first half hour of the south-going flow.

The Swale, Isle of Sheppey: The flow in this channel is a little complex. All times relative to high water at Sheerness. From -5:55, the tide runs in from both ends of the channel, meeting near Fowley Island. From -0:10, the tide turns east in the eastern part, so that the entire channel runs south-east. At +1:05, the tide in the West Swale turns north, such that the tide is flowing out both ends of the channel, splitting at Ladies Hole Point (Long Point, the sharp point just west of Rushenden). The point of separation moves south east, reaching Kingsferry Bridge at +2:05, Milton creek at +3:05 and Fowley Island at +3:35. Both in-going and out-going streams are strongest soon after they begin.

East end of The Swale, Isle of Sheppey: The north-east going stream begins at 10 minutes before high water at Sheerness. The south-west going stream begins at 6 hours before high water at Sheerness. The north-east going stream reaches a speed of 1.5 knots at springs. The south-west going stream reaches a speed of 1.2 knots at springs.

Off Margate: The east north-east going stream begins at 1 hours and 40 minutes after high water at Dover. The west south-west going stream begins at 4 hours and 30 minutes before high water at Dover. The flow reaches a speed of 2 knots at springs.

Off Herne Bay: The east going stream begins at 10 minutes before high water at Sheerness. The west going stream begins at 6 hours after high water at Sheerness. The flow reaches a speed of 1.5 knots at springs.

North coast of the Isle of Sheppey: The east going stream begins at at high water at Sheerness. The west going stream begins at 6 hours after high water at Sheerness. The flow reaches a speed of 1.5 knots at springs.

Mouth the Medway, Sheerness: The north north-east going stream begins at 15 minutes after high water at Sheerness. The south south-west going stream begins at 5 hours and 40 minutes before high water at Sheerness. The flow reaches a speed of 2 knots at springs.

Swale at Kingsferry Bridge: The south-east going stream begins at 5 hours and 25 minutes before high water at Sheerness. The north-west going stream begins at 2 hours and 5 minutes after high water at Sheerness. The south-east going stream reaches a speed of 3.5 knots at springs. The north-west going stream reaches a speed of 4 knots at springs.

Swale, near Milton Creek: The east south-east going stream begins at 5 hours and 25 minutes before high water at Sheerness. The west north-west going stream begins at 3 hours and 5 minutes after high water at Sheerness. The flow reaches a speed of 3 knots at springs.

Eddy south of Garrison Point, Sheerness: A north-going eddy forms when the tide flows south.

Medway, Long reach: The east going stream begins at at high water at Sheerness. The west going stream begins at 6 hours and 30 minutes after high water at Sheerness. The flow reaches a speed of 1.5 knots at springs. The in-going stream runs from Oakham Ness towards Bishop Ooze, then along the south side of the channel, resulting in slower flows on the north side. The out-going stream is strong past Darnet Fort, running from there towards Slede Ooze, with weaker flows on the south side of the river.

Medway by Hoo Ness: The east going stream begins at 15 minutes after high water at Sheerness. The west going stream begins at 6 hours and 5 minutes before high water at Sheerness. The flow reaches a speed of 2 knots at springs. The in-going stream runs strongly from Darnet Fort to Hoo Fort, then towards the marina across Gillingham Reach. The outgoing stream is strong around Hoo Ness, running past Hoo Fort and past both sides of Darnet Fort.

Medway, Sultan reach: The east going stream begins at 10 minutes before high water at Sheerness. The west going stream begins at 5 hours and 30 minutes before high water at Sheerness. The flow reaches a speed of 3 knots at springs. The in-going stream runs swiftly into Stangate creek and along Burntwick Island, but is weaker, reaching only 1.7 knots on the north side of the channel. The outgoing stream is weaker on the south side of the channel, but stronger on the north side. It may begin earlier than given here, at 1 and a half hours before high water at Sheerness.

Eddy north of Garrison Point: An eddy forms here on the out-going stream in the Medway.

Medway, Kethole Reach: The north-east going stream begins at 10 minutes after high water at Sheerness. The south-west going stream begins at 5 hours and 20 minutes after high water at Sheerness. The flow reaches a speed of 1.7 knots at springs. The in-going stream runs strongly along Burntwick island and Sharp Ness point. From there, it runs across the reach and into East Hoo Creek and around Oakham Ness, leaving less flow on the south east side of the reach. The out-going tide flows strongly around Oakham Ness and towards Sharp Ness and Sharfleet Creek, leaving less flow on the north west side of the river.

Slack water at Darnet Fort: On the in-going stream, an area of slack water or an eddy forms to the south of Darnet Fort.

Medway, Short Reach: The east south-east going stream begins at 5 minutes after high water at Sheerness. The west north-west going stream begins at 6 hours and 5 minutes before high water at Sheerness. The flow reaches a speed of 2 knots at springs. The flow is less in Chatham Reach, reaching a maximum of around a knot.

Medway, Rochester Bridge: The tide flows north-east and south-west. The flow reaches a speed of 2.5 knots at springs. Rochester bridge is the bridge across Bridge Reach.

Near the Red Sand Towers: The east going stream begins at 30 minutes after high water at Sheerness. The west going stream begins at 6 hours before high water at Sheerness. The east going stream reaches a speed of 2.5 knots at springs. The west going stream reaches a speed of 2 knots at springs.

Halfway between Warden Point and Red Sand Forts: The east north-east going stream begins at 15 minutes before high water at Sheerness. The west south-west going stream begins at 4 hours and 45 minutes after high water at Sheerness. The east north-east going stream reaches a speed of 1.5 knots at springs. The west south-west going stream reaches a speed of 1 knots at springs. Those making the crossing will wish to consult the more detailed information available on the chart.

Thames Estuary by Southend: The east going stream begins at 35 minutes after high water at Sheerness. The west going stream begins at 6 hours before high water at Sheerness. The flow reaches a speed of 2 knots at springs.

Thames, Sea Reach: The tide flows east and west. The east going stream reaches a speed of 3.5 knots at springs. The west going stream reaches a speed of 3 knots at springs. The out-going stream is strongest on the north side of the channel, by Canvey Island.

Notes

Access/Egress

Queenborough: (TQ 906 722) g Long slipway allowing access at all states of the tide. Car park nearby.

Shellness: (TR 055 679) g Road parallels the north-east facing beach, and ends at the south-east facing beach. Both are possible launching site - parking is available to the north, but there may be a shorter walk from the end of the road if the tide is lower.

Sheerness Beach Street: (TQ 921 751) g Pay and display car park by a ramp that leads over the sea wall to the beach. Likely better at high water.

Oare, Swale: (TR 013 648) g Small car park near the end of the road. A slipway here may permit access at a range of heights of tide.

West of Seesalter: (TR 070 650) g Free parking on gravel by the road. Steps over the sea wall, and ramp at sailing club. Better at high water as the tide goes out a long way.

Whistable Harbour: (TR 107 670) g Slipways near the RNLI station, with a small pay and display car park nearby.

Herne Bay Hampton Pier: (TR 158 683) g Car park by the beach.

Herne Bay Neptune: (TR 178 685) g A slipway to the east of the harbour likely allows easier access at lower tide than the harbour itself. Pay and display car park.

Birchington west: (TR 284 695) g Parking along the road, ramp down to beach and slipway.

Sheerness Barton's point: (TQ 941 748) g Parking along the road to the coastal park. Short walk to the beach. Access also possible, with more parking 500m east, but walk likely longer at lower tide.

Southend, Shoebury Common: (TQ 925 842) g Large pay and display car park with overflow by the beach. Extensive areas dry around here at low water - likely only usable at some states of the tide.

Two Tree Island: (TQ 823 848) g Long slipway, likely usable at most states of the tide (drying height of 0.4 m near end, which is just below MLWS). Large car park.

Canvey Island Esplanade east: (TQ 814 827) g Limited parking at the eastern end of the Esplanade, no height barrier. Short carry over the sea wall to the sea. May dry a long way out a low tide.

Canvey Island Esplanade west: (TQ 800 824) g Large car parks, with height barriers, may be busy in the summer. Short carry over sea wall to beach. May dry a long way out at low water.

Suggested trips

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