Another Tick on the Bucket List
Whoooooo. Go faster. Faster. No, not me, my wife Pam saying these words as the spray hit our faces at 30 knots as the rib boat sped along the Eastbourne coast in the early summer evening.
‘What the hell am I doing here?’ was my constant thought as yet again we bounced over the waves, to come crashing down again, the flimsy underside of the boat failing to cushion the blow. My white knuckles were the only part of my body ensuring my almost sixteen stones were saved from being catapulted into the foaming and uninviting sea.
It looked cold, and from what I was feeling on my face, it was cold.
Of course, my beloved of 42 years was loving every moment, shrieking with unrestrained pleasure as her hair was soaked, her beauty cream disappearing into the waves as soon as we left the shelter of the harbour.
Then, to compound the agony, our intrepid skipper decided to slow down slightly, so he could complete what seemed like an hour of figure of eights. They might look like fun from the shore, but every turn meant more waves crashing over the twelve paying passengers. Yes, that’s right, the crew were being paid to inflict what the majority regarded as fun.
Of course, I was the oldest shipmate, and we were so low down, that mal de mer was an impossibility.
The journey had started earlier that day with a phone call from a ‘friend’. ‘Harry, we are out on the rib this evening from the harbour, there’s a couple of free spare seats, and wonder if you and Pam fancy coming along?’
Well it was something we had always wanted to do, so suitably attired with old clothing and a spare set to change into afterwards, we reported. All calm inside the harbour, peaceful as we waited inside the lock and listened to the safety drill, and a look for the swimming seal that lives just outside the lock gates.
This seal isn’t stupid. It even comes through the lock with the boats, into the safety of the inner harbour, and then feeds off the prolific grey mullet. Replete, it reverses the journey.
The actual fast running time is only about twenty minutes, as the skipper shows off the abilities of this thirty knot craft. Now that’s okay for Royal National Lifeboat Institution volunteers, but afterwards we were informed that ours had been the fastest outing of the day. Thanks.
The inner harbour is a higher water level than the sea level, which is why a lock is necessary. The harbour can take big pleasure boats, nothing like a Russian oligarch size, but still pretty large, and there is a large residential community around the north and south harbours. Plenty of shops, both nautical and ordinary retail, with a large selection of restaurants. Allegedly 30% of all boats never move outside the lock gates. They are just there for show, the weekend sailors enjoying their summer drinks on the decks as they have no idea how to luff, yawl, or spinnaker the yardarm.
And did I enjoy the trip? Of course, love to do it again.
Sussex Voyages 01293 888780 or www.sussexvoyages.co.uk email@example.com
Harry Pope www.harrytheblogger.com www.harrythewriter.com