Friday, April 06, 2007

Hey Gravity flying high in France - last check they were Nos. 12 in National Play Charts.

At the moment (Good Friday morning) feeling guilty as missed Church - early service - too many chores before getting out of the house. Part of last week's sermon was about not spending Good Friday in a garden centre - and guess where I am off to next! Fortunately there's no shortage of priests round here if I need to confess my sins!

The last 3 days have been spent power boating - good fun, cold and wet at times, but flying off the top of waves at speed makes it all worthwhile. First two days were at Blakeney - weather was poor each morning - 6.45am start to catch the tide. We would venture out to the Point, pass the bemused seals, and see how far it was safe to go before the breaking waves would prove too difficult. It's amazing just how big the combination of swell and waves can seem in a small boat. I drove a Ribcraft- similar to the type of boat the 15 marines were in when captured by the Iranians, just a bit smaller. Can go up to 30 knots and is very stable and manouverable. You can thow the boat around without the risk of capsize - you just need good padding underneath as it can get very bumpy when going flat out.

Yesterday was spent at Lowestoft where I completed my intermediate qualifications - basically means I'm qualified to handle a boat up to 10metres in length. The weather was glorious and I spent a very relaxed day with my instructor John, plotting a journey out into the North Sea, navigating round various sandbanks, and then back to Lowestoft. As we set off, my "man over board" training the previous day came in handy as my chart went flying out of the boat into the water. Fortunately I took the correct evasive action, turned, and managed to stop dead right next to it making it easy to recover. Compared to the previous days this was perfect weather and the sea was almost scarily calm. Sea mist gave a bit of a challenge spotting marker points, and my tendency to go at 22 knots instead of the agreed 15 meant all my timings between points had to be re-calculated, but we completed the course successfully.

Small world - turned out my instructor John knew my old lodger and college friend Ian from Wigan. Both had worked in London for Sears (used to own Selfridges). John is clearly an important person, sitting as a non-executive director on a number of boards for major UK companies, whilst running his boating school the rest of the time. He showed me round his pride and joy, a lifeboat built about 40 years ago which they are restoring, retaining most of the original features. It was used to rescue Ted Heath when Morning Cloud capsized many years ago. It is powered by two large diesel bus engines - looks incredibly basic compared to modern lifeboats, but is very reliable and safe. What looks like it can only hold about 10 people could hold up to 75 during a rescue. Hopefully I will get a chance to go out on her during the summer - possiby up to Blakeney (about 8 hour trip), or a night trip.

And now, off to commit a cardinal sin!

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