Part Four : A good throttling...
Conditions were quite testing as we tackled the TSS at the correct angle. Richard pushed the boat gradually as it became apparent that it was relishing the challenge of lofty seas and the occasional smack in the face. Seabirds swooped and dived either side as the distinctive shape of the Goodwin lightship materialised ahead. Toy-like ships on the horizon became rapidly-moving monsters up close, hell-bent on reaching northerly ports.
The crew settled in as the boat responded to the demand of the waves and Richard’s answer on the throttle. Snug in our drysuits and Geckos, with air temperature still in double figures (typical of this exceptionally balmy November) we were able to enjoy the scenery and the warming sunshine
while Mike monitored instruments and corrected headings. Every now and then the snarl of the props surfacing brought a grin to our faces as the skipper soldiered on, averaging 30 knots and growing in confidence in his new boat’s abilities.
Having delivered a bit of a hammering on our channel crossing
, the seas backed down a little as we gained the relative shelter of the English coast. Not to be completely outdone the wind swung a little more to the west just to keep it interesting. Our speed picked up and the RIB tore across the chop past the south-easterly ports and on to the boxy shapes of the Dungeness power stations.
Richard offered the helm to Simon who indulged his powerboat racing abilities and immediately sought to explore the capabilities of the new RIB. Flatter water provided a new assessment opportunity for Parker’s design as throttles hit the console and the hull divorced itself completely from water. If we were all delighted with the feeling of solidity and security in the big waves off Calais, here was a further thrill as the boat took off like a rocket and sped at 50 + (53.4!!!!) knots in the direction of Dungeness. The boat kept its poise and the horizon was true as a spirit level while we powered along . The crew were safely ensconced in the solid jockeys and comfortable wraparound backrests.
We slowed towards Dungeness and inspected the bleak structure impassively facing the ocean. More function than form. Someone should have asked Derek Jarman to draw up the design.
It was a relief to press on for the more natural formation of the chalky coastline ahead.
12) Beachy Head. (This photo is sourced from Wikipedia. If there's any copyright probs please remove JK, ta.)