Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Two Thames Stories

1. Rowing on the Thames

Oh no! In my previous post on different types of boats Chris of Rowing for Pleasure spotted I missed out rowing. All I can say is sorry and blame again trying to write a post while watching BBC4's Sea Fever series (confession, I'm doing that now, so beware typos and further omissions).

Of course there are times when the rowing boat is the best craft, and in honour of that truth I've re-posted a picture of two of the rowing boats most famous proponents. However I wouldn't like to travel through central London in one, and not just for the larger boats rushing by.

A bigger problem is the current. I remember seeing one afternoon a traditional wooden rowing boat attempting to row against the ebbing tide and failing. However hard the man at the oars struggled, he and his friend were being dragged down river.

In the end they gave up and beached the boat just below a pub where they vanished for several hours. Much later that day I saw them head up river, the tide now with them, till they disappeared into the dusk.

I have this feeling that though their afternoon hadn't gone to plan, it had still been a good day.

2. The old bill cautions two powerboaters

Like Adam from Messing About in Sailboats I too have received an email from Lisa Bertil of Safeboater describing 23 of the worst boating accidents. Reminds me a bit like the book Total Loss that I reviewed earlier.

Adam posted some excellent top tips, like going on a training course, wearing a life jacket and checking the weather.

While doing the powerboat course over the weekend we saw some good examples of boaters not following this good advice. The first RIB was in the lock with us and the crew had no life jackets and only a couple of layers of clothing on a day with biting North-Easterlies. Unsurprisingly they quickly decided they had had enough and headed in.

Further up towards Tower Bridge as we passed the River Police HQ we saw one of the bill's launches stop another power boat. In it were two lads with no wet weather gear, no lifejackets and no kill cord.

"Now then, now then, what's all this?"

After a proper ticking off they were allowed to go on their way with sheepish grins.

Let's have fun, but lets be careful out there.


O Docker said...

JP, I must take exception with the conclusions you draw from the account of the two rowers.

I believe the rowboat was the perfect craft for the situation. It allowed them to spend several hours in a presumably comfortable pub, enjoying one of the storied treasures of English culture.

Had they been in a smelly, noisy, and otherwise vile powerboat, they likely would have entirely missed that experience.

I believe Chris would quite agree.

poweboater said...

Had they been in a powerboat trying to get to a pub that was uptide, they would have been there two hours earlier.

O Docker said...

I'm not so sure.

I believe for rowers, as for sailors, the journey is the destination, and encountering a pub along the way just enriched the journey.

The powerboater would have made a beeline for home and missed the pub altogether.

At any rate, a drunken powerboater poses a greater risk to public safety than a drunken rower.

Baydog said...

Amen, O'Docker. I don't typically drink when I sail, but I usually say, would you rather come across a drunken sailor or rower, or a drunken powerboater. The sailor or rower might ram into your boat at 3 knots. Not so mild from the other.

Poweboater: Rn't you forgetting something? Again, you're worrying me. Seriously. Pizza and beer AFTER sailing, remember? (HSC)

Chris Partridge said...

O Docker is right, I do agree with him. Sitting in a riverside pub with a cool ale for a couple of hours is a dreadful penance but if that is what you have to do to obtain the physical and spiritual benefits of rowing, well I am prepared to take that risk.

Chris Partridge said...

Incidentally, sharing the river with the power boats isn't all that bad - you stick to the bank where they cannot go.

JP said...

Probably another of these omissions due to Sea Fever distractions. The much delayed rowers were up river near Putney. If they were in central London I'd expect them to be another candidate for a visit for by the bill.

But it was clearly a good, rewarding evening, with a bit of exercise, a drink and probably a bite.

Tat row upriver in the dusk must have been rather magical.