It may not quite have the ring of Capri or St Tropez but next summer the world’s superyacht owners are being urged to add Rotherhithe to their sailing itinerary.
To coincide with the Olympics, a “pop-up” marina has been proposed at Greenland Dock, London’s oldest — and currently disused — wet dock.
Sailing company NEB has unveiled plans to create facilities for 350 yachts to berth between July 23 and August 15 with pontoons and power supplies, and a temporary yacht club in the form of a marquee at the Surrey Docks Watersports Centre.
NEB anticipates yacht owners from across Europe will converge on the dock — once a centre for blubber boiling —for the 2012 Games, lured by a marketing website that points to such enticing local facilities as a 24-hour Tesco and a McDonald’s. Fees are likely to be about £313 a night.
Southwark council is considering the plans. “We hope you will see this flotilla of European yachts as a wonderful spectacle during the Olympics,” says NEB.
Well maybe. There are the killjoys of course who only see a very tedious period of party-time noise from yacht owners and their crews.
“It is going to ruin the games for us,” predicted Kate Fuller, 33, who lives nearby. “People around here had also been hoping to rent out their homes to Olympic tourists, and this won’t increase their chances.”
However NEB insists the marina will attract a family crowd, and that they will ensure “a certain level of self-regulation”. There will also be all night security patrols, and all guests will have to sign up to a charter promising to keep quiet after sunset.
In addition, the water level in the dock is nearly 2 metres below the quayside,” added the NEB spokesperson. “Therefore the yachts will be below ground level and the quayside walls may help to contain noise to a certain extent.”
Greenland Dock dates from 1695 and was once one of the capital’s busiest commercial docks, like its neighbour Canada Water. It was heavily bombed during the Second World War, and was closed in 1970. It now belongs to Southwark council and is mainly used for sailing and watersports.