Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Running Aground

Not a good New Year for the Master and crew of the 90,000 tonne container ship Cortesia which is currently hard aground on the Varne sandbank (more here).

The Varne bank is unfortunately slap bang in the middle of the south (or east) bound lane of the Dover Strait's Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS). So every day there is a steady stream of vessels passing to its left and right - but most of them seem to be able to miss it. It is marked with a southerly cardinal at one end and a buoy the other, and is clearly shown on the charts.

At its centre the depth is merely 3.3 metres - despite being well offshore. We are currently in a spring tide situation so low water will have been especially dangerous - but that also means the high tide will get weaker in the days to come.

There was also a running aground in the program "Three men in another boat" on the Beeb last night. Griff Rees-Jones was sailing his classic 49 footer from London round to Cowes with two fellow comedian semi-celebs (for real - note no fiction label to this post). While teaching them to raise the main they ended up momentarily aground.

However I'm a bit suspicious. I can see that commissioning editors might worry about the lack of drama and Griff (who I once saw in a techy shop on London's Tottenham Court Road) saying don't worry, he'll fix a few "incidents".

Hence he finds a very sheltered place (The Swale), with gentle bottom (mud), at a good time (rising tide), at low speed (last recorded comment was to slow down), and, knowing the boat has a centre board that can be raised, heads slowly into the mud.

If you are in the UK you can make your own mind up by watching it here.


Turinas said...

I am reading to the "Baltic with Bob". Griff Rhys Jones is pretty good at making the mundane seem a bit more dramatic than it is. I havent decided if i like it yet

JP said...

I have read that book but not much sticks in my memory but the cold and wet final delivery back home.

I enjoyed the final bit of the tv series when they race - and loose!

Unfortunately a rather familiar experience :(