We recently offered a day out on our boat with Champagne and canapes for six guests, as an auction prize at a Chatham & Aylesford fund raising event. The lot was so popular we decided to accept the six highest bids - raising almost £2000 for Association funds.
The first of our winners joined us today for a four hour return trip along the non-tidal Medway, from Allington Lock to East Farleigh Lock. And a super time was had be all. It was great to welcome aboard Tonbridge & Malling councillor Janet Sergison with friends and member of her family.
However, no sooner had we waved goodbye to our guests, the river descended into farce. The lock keeper came over to advise us "a 60ft sailing yacht is about to come through the lock under tow - you might want to put out a few extra fenders just in case!" Sure enough, 30 minutes later, the yacht arrived, being towed by a 30 foot pea green canal boat. I suspect you might need to have some connection with boating to see the absurdity of not only a 60ft ocean racing yacht being towed by a narrow boat, but why anyone would wish to tow a brand new million pound yacht up the non-tidal Medway where the water is 5ft deep and it's impossible to sail.
As the yacht left the lock, it's keel got stuck in the mud, blocking all other boats entering or leaving the lock. After a lot of revving and cussing a large crowd has gathered. A woman in the boat opposite, who I had noticed open her first wine bottle at 11am, started shrieking at him to "be careful" at which point the man steering the canal boat shouted, "I told you it was an effing stupid idea, I'm off..." He then cut the rope and stormed off up the river at shouting indiscriminate obscenities as he went, leaving the racing yacht and bunch of oddly dressed crew stranded in the lock channel.
Then it got even more absurd.
A giant plastic gin palace then appeared and having nowhere else to go moored up alongside us. This was clearly a charter boat and just our luck had been hired by a hen party, all of whom were wearing pink leotards, bunny ears and thought it was highly amusing to flash their breasts at the drunken boys in the Malta Inn, who all responded with some primeval grunting. The captain of this boat was dressed as Tom Cruise and there was also a heavily perspiring Elvis impersonator singing "Suspicious Minds".
An industrial sized tug then turned up and attached lines to the grounded yacht. After a great deal of revving that also failed to move the yacht and the tug has now also disappeared back from whence it came.
And that's the latest news from the Allington Lock on the River Medway. The yacht is still stranded, the hen party are still drinking their Bacardi Breezers and Elvis is now signing Devil in Disguise.
Tomorrow, we welcome aboard Peter Homewood!