Saturday, October 06, 2007

On a pleasure trip...

Down to Spurn Point to experience the ride of a lifetime. We were blessed with ridiculously calm waters and, of course, some amazing company. Impossible not to admire these men and I apologise in advance if anything that follows seems flippant or disrespectful. But, I can vouch, these men are also 'ordinary' blokes too, who survive the rigours of the job with heavy doses of black humour. In comparison to what they do, writing seems such a lightweight occupation. Strange, then, that they live in a place - isolated, dangerous and incredibly unique and inspirational - that would be the ideal home for a writer.
We were on board for about an hour and given a full tour of the Tardis-like Severn Class Pride of the Humber; a mircaulous craft, make no mistake, and the wheelhouse a technical extravaganza. A mesmerising explanation of the electronics - radar, GPS, laser chart plotter, echo sounder and other mysterious devices, accompanied by a cup of coffee ("a lot of time when we've plotted the course and are heading out to a shout, all we can do is drink a cuppa until we get there") was followed by a below deck inspection where we got a sneaky peek at her gleaming ("we can instantly spot a leak") twin 1600 bhp Caterpillar engines, the unfathomably large seating area ("we can strap people in down here") where 61 people were once accommodated on a rescue, and the toilet ("we don't use it, it's a cupboard for the vaccuum cleaner. Unless someone really needs it. We just go over the side"). Then it was back up top, for the hotly anticipated but, frankly, rather scary "I'll chuck it about a bit" moment. In reality, the chucking it about a bit moment was much more fun than it had been made to sound and an impressive display of what the Pride of the Humber is capable of. As I battled to keep my stupidly self-inflicted the night before going out with a lifeboat crew hangover in check, coxswain Dave demonstrated how quickly you can bring her to a full stop when you're belting along at 25 knots. He then told me to take the wheel, but only with one finger ("the steering is incredibly light, eh?" It was, I must say, a damn sight easier to handle than the beat-up broken-down Citroen ZX I've been driving of late). But I was in fear of breaking this piece of blue and orange kit, given that it's worth around £2m, and feeling inadequate given that I was in the immediate company of a highly-decorated genuine contemporary superhero. I was at my most vulnerable when the immortal words sprang forth: "This play, then. Are the lads gonna enjoy it and will it be a good crack?" be continued

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Still no pictures of you on the boat

Martin C