('No-one Expects the Spanish Inquisition')
Part 6 'Six Nurofen and a Bottle of Holy Water'
At last Littlehampton was in view. We maintained a respectful distance from the coastline and radioed the reception party who were waiting near our destination. As we drew closer they began signalling their location with a flashing light. We hailed each other and soon Lucasz was snapping away as the designated Pontoontalk photographer!
And then we turned into the Arun. As we proceeded in stately fashion up past the quays it was evident that Littlehampton was in festive mood with loud music emanating from the local hostelries and people dancing and congregating on the quayside despite the late hour. As no Littlehamptonites displayed any surprise whatsoever, it slowly dawned on us that we had in fact stumbled upon the Aya Napa of the South Coast of England!
As we proceeded upriver Richard worried that we should keep to the speed limit but Andre, delighted that he was once again in his home territory, declared loudly ‘there will be no-one about! Not this time of night or this time of year!’ A Monty Python moment! As seconds later at the pontoon we were blinded by a bright light from a craft alongside. Suddenly a man in black leapt aboard in the manner of Peter Schmeichel’s best efforts in ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. He maintained a dignified front despite nearly losing his balance. Concerned for his well-being we checked if he had injured himself but stopped short of awarding points for his manoeuvre.
The rest of his team had over-egged the custard slightly ( no slight intended to Parker’s first yellow RIB!
) on the approach and slapped into Nauti’s pride & joy (boat) head on. In the ensuing confusion the helmsman backed off and the team disappeared again into the night after at least managing to gather their dignity enough to ask us politely to stick around.
As we waited in orderly fashion for the boyos to sort themselves out we realized that they had brought along quite significant back-up! All thoughts of basic needs after four hours and 130 miles at sea (toilet, coffee, beer, food!!!) were forgotten as we noticed the choppers overhead and the blue flashing lights of half a dozen police cars in the car park!
By this time our friendly welcoming party (top Ribbers from Littlehampton) had also been directed to wait with us while the boat and luggage was checked. The unexpected visitors relaxed a little as they realized they were on a wild goose chase and seemed entirely unflapped by my collection of drugs and magical liquid ( 6 nurofen and a bottle of holy water)! Indeed they took the time to compliment us on excellent gear (equipment) and preparation for sea!
I asked the assertive little laddie who had jumped aboard why he would take such a risk alone in boarding a boat that already contained six burly figures! He explained one of his colleagues was supposed to board with him but when they realized the helm had mucked up the approach they knew they were heading for the drink and aborted their leap in the dark!
The next bizarre event occurred as a gentleman of the Special Branch turned to Richard and asked him a question. Immediately three loud bangs sounded out from beyond the marina. Richard leapt three feet into the air in perfect time with his interrogator and we all looked round aghast as to what further surprise was in store for us. Seconds later, the night sky burst into flame as we witnessed the beginning of the town’s firework display!
So there we were joking and chatting with England’s finest while the report of the pyrotechnics blended with the whirr of chopper blades, the wail of the sirens and the pounding rock music emanating from the Arun View. JK couldn’t have organised it better!
carefully moored, we finally bid farewell to our eclectic welcoming party, Lucasz took some more souvenir photos and we headed for home. We turned back one last time on the pontoon to wave at our colleagues from Customs who managed to demonstrate at least PB 2 skills in a smoother departure. They clutched their only loot carefully; their brand new copy of the Parker RIBs brochure freely donated by old ‘Seahawk’ himself, the inimitable Andre !