Erith Yacht Club

The finest sailing water on the tidal Thames

Erith Yacht Club
Anchor Bay,
Erith, Kent, DA8 2AD
Tel. 01322 332943
Secretary (PO Box 231, Bexleyheath, Kent, DA7 9AZ)
Tel 0208 310 2686
email
- secretary@erithyachtclub.org.uk


Site Updated
Apr 20 2012
Untitled Document

Press Cuttings and Reminiscences

Over the years many memorable things have happened at EYC. We are lucky enough to have some articles written by long standing members on some of the memories they have of the Club and have some old press cuttings about remarkable events at the Club which we have collected together here. If any members have any additional writings which they feel may be of interest please send them to the Webmasters.

ERITH YACHT SUNK BY FRENCH TRAWLER IN THREE MINUTES. An account of the sinking and recovery of the Maggie May in Calais in 1949. Reprinted from the Kentish Times
A PICTURE IN THE BAR On the Clubship are a number of pictures and photos, here is some information on perhaps what they represent
" WHAT I REMEMBER OF EYC". K.C.CLARKE. "NOBBY". 1923 - 2004. Some memories from Nobby Clarke
THE GREAT FLOOD OF 1953 A letter from W.Bartlett, a former Commodore of EYC describing the great flood of 1953
ERITH YACHT CLUB, VESSEL STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, EXTRAORDINARY EFFECTS. An account of a race to Gravesend in the early 1900's
FIREWORK PARTY IN THE1970's? A photo preparing for a firework party in the 1970's showing some of our 'older' members as 'younger' members
OLD MAP Map of the Club from before tipping of the fill
Extract from 1977 Newsletter  
Extract from 1951 House Committee Minutes  
Of Penn's and Battleships. Article by Fred Finck giving history of some local jetties

Piloting a Yacht that never goes to sea

This is from a newspaper dated May 31st. 1938. Thus it could a forerunner of the Hamble Star but the wheels fell off
in transit!

Belated Thank You to the E.Y.C Not sure when this was received, but was obviously sent to the Club much later than the events which took place in about 1950

 

ERITH YACHT SUNK BY FRENCH TRAWLER IN THREE MINUTES.

CREW STAY FORTNIGHT WITH CALAIS FISHERMEN.

EXTRACTS FROM LOG OF "MAGGIE MAY".

EX KENTISH TIMES NOV.18TH 1949.

1945anchored in outer harbour 16th June.

2030 requested berthing instructions from Hbr. Master who told us to stay where we were until morning.

2130 riding light lit and went ashore for more fleshpots in the shape of eggs,chips and rum.
2300 returned and turned in all standing.


SANK IN THREE MINUTES.

June 17th. 0300hrs. Awakened by crash and impact. Scrambled into cockpit and saw the shape of a trawler's bow passing on our stbd. quarter. "Maggie May" was stove in and making water fast. Called for crew to get on deck but Molly was already doing this. Let go the dinghy painter only to find the dinghy had been cut adrift and was not in sight. The trawler was half a cable astern and standing by.

By the light of the riding light an attempt was made to free the lifebuoy but before this could be done the v/l sank in 5 fathoms, three minutes after being struck.

Answering our calls for help the trawler, "St.Joseph" , slowly approached and flung a lifebuoy, on to which we hung until fished out and led to a small cabin , where generous tots of gin were pressed upon the "survivors"-a proceeding that was frequently repeated during the night. Dry clothing was provided by each member of the crew taking off one of the garments he was wearing. The cabin fire was then lighted and our wet clothes put out to dry. The trawler by this time was now back alongside and made fast.

0700. Our clothes were nearly dry so we put them on and went ashore wearing slippers borrowed from the fishermen and at least two sizes too large. Money and passports being in "Maggie" an early visit to the British Consul was imperative so we shuffled off to report the loss of the ship and procure ready money, as soon as his office opened.

Despite our endeavours to get back to the scene of the accident by low water ( 1000hrs ) we were detained by the Consul until noon.

1230hrs. On eventually arriving at the harbour it was found that the crew of the "St.Joseph" had succeeded in raising "Maggie" and were proceeding to beach her on a sandy beach in the corner of the basin.

High water was 1700hrs. but it was nearly 1900 before was "Maggie" was high and dry. She was bailed out and the sodden gear removed and laid out on the beach. Much gear had been lost including the foresail and personal property, but the passports and money were safe.

By now we had learned that the "St.Joseph" was owned by the Friscourt family, the father, his three sons and various relatives and friends making up the crew of eleven.

Apparently, to ensure that the salvage and repairs were done as reasonably as possible, the family had taken these duties upon themselves and had arranged for a shipwright to fix a felt and plywood tingle over the damage which would enable her to remain afloat long enough to be towed to the repair yard.

INVITATION TO STAY.

Their organisation did not end there. While the shipwrights were busy fixing the tingle, Marie, the wife of the eldest son Charles, arrived and indicated that all the sodden gear, now lying on the beach was to be taken to her house where it could properly dried and attended to. She also insisted that we should stay with her for the rest of our time in Calais, and that the offer was so generously pressed that it would have been churlish to refuse.

2100hrs. A lorry driven by a friend of the family drove up and into it was piled all our gear, Marie,ourselves and some half dozen fishermen and their bicycles. Driven furiously, it took us through the docks and the town to the suburb, where the Café Friscourt , owned by Charles and Marie, was situated.Here , clothes and blankets were rinsed and hung up in the garden and the other gear piled up as tidily as possible until it could properly inspected.

June 18 th. 0900hrs. An independent marine surveyor, the consultant engineer to British Railways cross channel steamers, was called in to make a survey of the damage and to indicate the extent of the necessary repairs. It was agreed that the damage should be chargeable to the "St.Joseph" and the work put in hand by the local boat builders.

A further instance of the Friscourt family's thoughtfulness was observed in that a continous watch had been kept over the "Maggie" by one or more of the "St.Joseph's" crew so that no inquisitive locals could take any liberties with her.

1730.The "St.Joseph" towed "Maggie" into the boatyard. She was lifted out of the water and shored up. There we left her at 1900.

SundayJune 19th. Most of the day was spent looking over the salvaged gear and estimating losses. This done a start was made on converting an old Sharpie mainsail into a foresail to replace the one that was lost, the dancefloor in the salon of the café making an excellent sail loft. Work had to stop eventually to allow the regular Sunday evening dance to take place. Those of the crew who had been at the dance, which ended at 0200 hrs. went straight to their ship for a night's mackerel fishing and Mr.Hilton accompanied them. He relates that approaching the spot where he was sunk his attention was drawn to the blaze of lights from the deck of a cross channel ferry berthed alongside, some two cables ahead. The difficulty of seeing a yacht's riding light against such a background was readily apparent.

KINDLY FRENCH FAMILY.

The log records the activity the trawler and the happy time spent with Friscourt family and how the "Maggie's" sinking cost them several nights fishing, plus other costs had been such a financial blow to them.

Repairs were completed on Saturday June 25th. A farewell party was held in the café with many Friscourt family and friends present . Much gin and rum were consumed making for a lively and excellent party which went on until the small hours.

"Maggie" cast off on June 26th. at noon anchoring in Dover at 0900hrs. It was decided to sail from Dover for the duration of the season in the channel in clear waters. Several trips to Calais were made at weekends where "Maggie" became quite well known.

In September the weather started to deteriorate and the "Maggie" returned to Erith.

This log was selected by Rear-Commodore Bob Roberts as the best and the Henriette Cup was presented to Mr.Hilton at Erith Yacht Club's Jubilee Dinner.

By the kind permission of the Kentish Times.

The picture of EYC in the bar has , in the foreground, a large cutter under sail which appears to be flying the Commodore's burgee . If this is so the yacht is "Lady Georgiana"of some 18 tons owned by A.I.Gaze the Commodore ( 1900 - 06 ) at the time. He also owned a 2 ton sloop , "Vic",during this period also kept at EYC.

" WHAT I REMEMBER OF EYC". K.C.CLARKE. "NOBBY". 1923 - 2004.

When I first came to the Club ( 1947 ) the lightship ( "Garson 2" ) had only recently been purchased and "Garson 1" had been laid up in the Middle Creek. I was told that she had been used by a group of doctors who kept small animals on board on which they used to experiment.

A member called Joe Elvin, a retired printer, lived on his boat all through the war and with the help of his shot gun kept intruders at bay!

The "Garson 2" was purchased from Trinity House in 1945 for £140 and was delivered FOC to the Club Saltings lashed alongside the THV "Patricia". In those days the only lighting aboard was by oil lamps.

The engine room of the lightship was lined out with lead and the member who removed it all sold it for his own gain,or so it was said.

With strong northerly winds "Garson 2" would come out of her hole and when the tide receded would take up a large list of about 40 degrees. There used to be a piano in the saloon but I only heard it played on two occasions. Because of the listing the piano was pinned in place with a row of nails.

Dave Wallace and I were trapped on board the lightship when the great tide of 1953 lifted the ship so high that the gangway left the bank and hung straight down. Many dinghies went over the sea wall (raised since then) and yachts came out of their mud berths ( there was then no fill, just marsh and creeks) and remained there when the waters receded. They then had to be man handled or dug back into their mud berth. High tide remained for many hours. Belvedere was flooded and the marshes where the Gypsies lived.

The first dance ever given on the "Garson 2" was in the 60's and a junior member provided a gramophone and home built amplifier. Dance records were obtained from the membership at large.The centre table in the saloon was dismantled to give room to the dancers.

About that time Dave Kennard brought an epidiascope and showed photos of members yachts of yesteryear. Some time later Robbie ( Michael Robinson ) brought a proper slide projector and a load of slides showing life aboard some square rigged ships. These he had borrowed from the Maritime Museum.

In the 50's I was part of the crew who laid the paving stone causeway, replacing the former wooden one. This was really too narrow and was eventually replaced by the M1 under the direction of Jimmy Green. Some lighters broke adrift and sat on this new wooden causeway and the Club had a large section professionally rebuilt at the expense of the lighter owners.

( These earlier causeways extended to low water mark from a position ashore, just astern of "Folgefonn" for launch/recovery of dinghies.The lighter roads extended from where they are at present upstream of EYC, to roughly where our bottom moorings are ). During this period Fred Lapslie ( the Club's White jacketed Steward ) and his wife used to supply a supper on Saturday night plus a breakfast and a roast dinner on Sunday ( all served on a white linen tablecloth ) and lots of tea, all for 10 shillings (50p ).When I was thrown out of my lodgings I lived on "Garson" for several days until I got somewhere to live.

At the bottom of the lighter roads was an old hulk called "Birchrock" ( an ex. wooden square rigger used for storing coal) on which lived a retired Captain ( possibly W.Johnstone, joined EYC 1940 ) who kept watch over the loaded lighters. He used to visit the Club on a Saturday night and spin fantastic sea yarns aided by the oil lights and a wood burning stove, a tortoise.

Sometime in the 60's there was an accident involving Howard Smith and Bill Frost. They had climbed the rigging attached to the lightship's mast to fasten some wet sails to dry out. The rigging snapped and they fell to the deck from about 10 feet ( 3 metres ).Howard injured his ankle so badly that he could not walk. He was carried on an improvised stretcher to Bill Frost's "bog boat" ( a Hastings Lugger) This happened on a Bank Holiday weekend and although Howard rested all day Sunday he could only walk with improvised crutches made from flotsam ( a broken paddle ).

He was put in a wheelbarrow and taken to the car park at the end of Manor Road ( where the barrier is ). Bill Curwood drove him up to the Savoy Hotel, London, where he was convinced that he could get a room.

In his muddied state, dressed in airforce battledress, walking with the aid of the driftwood crutch he was not given one! Not undaunted he asked for a telephone and booked a room at the Astor by name and got in there.

Sailing up river just above the town off the southern sewage outfall and treatment works, I met a wall of soap suds extending right across the river some four feet high! This supposedly came from a firm which made home perm kits. All kinds of chemicals were in the river then which discoloured the paint on boats, and was known as the purple plague. Cutlery and brasswork was also tarnished, not just afloat but also houses in Upper Belvedere, Charlton etc, not just riverside properties!

The pollution was so bad that a hand put 2 inches ( 5cms ) down in the river water became invisible due to the filth. Any members ( and general public ) swallowing riverwater were treated in the local hospital and often had their stomachs pumped out.

On about November the 5th we used to have a firework party and one of the set pieces was a Catherine Wheel made up of rockets. Another was rockets "back to back", the top one igniting the lower one which then hurtled back to earth.

Early one Sunday morning a Cadet Member banged on the door of the bar where I was sleeping to say there was a corpse fully dressed lying across the causeway. I got dressed and verified this find and checked that the man was dead. I phoned the local police and they turned up with a coffin on wheels and took the man away. Later I found out that he had been the watchman on the lighter roads opposite Erith Town and had been out celebrating prior to falling in.

On another occasion whilst dinghy racing I found a bloated corpse in the water and towed it into the town causeway. The man was an awful sight as his eyeballs were gone. I left my name with the police and in due course got some salvage money. 10 shillings ( 50p ) I think.

Another time,again midweek, when I had a half day off there was an exceptionally low tide. This caused the boats on the outer trot ( about where the middle trot is today,only two trots then ) to touch the bottom.Going searching along the exposed river bottom I found several anchors and rowlocks in good condition, plus many tools lying in the peat.

A further midweek incident was when an old fashioned sludger ( which carried treated sewage out to sea for dumping ) coming upriver rounded Crayfordness. She then had an electrical power failure with the rudder set to turn to the ship to port and the engine running strongly. The ship managed to miss all the yachts on the moorings as she came to rest on our foreshore.

Without electrical power the control of rudder and engine was lost although the crew let go both anchors run free from the lockers, slowing her down, as she approached the shore . When this happened there was an impressive display of sparks from both of the ship's hawse pipes. This all happened at half flood. Alan Beckett was also present at the club when this happened.

*------------------------------*

Addendum

As a result of the last newsletter the following was received from Peter Rowing

I will always remember Nobby Clark and how he first crossed the channel to Calais with Alec Grey, who told him to steer southeast for the town hall. After a few inexplicable course changes by Alec, the tower on the Calais town hall loomed out of the mist and they sailed into the harbour. Nobby didn't care to ask Alec how this had been achieved as he was an awkward old cuss, however it was explained. At that time there was an air ferry for cars, that flew out of Lydd airport, war surplus freighters that struggled into the and flopped down in a field by Calais. Every time one flew over, a course correction was made, better than GPS.

Alec Grey is long gone, I remember him for his immaculate sailing gear, an old mackintosh with a bit of sisal string tied around the waist. Hardly fit for Cowes Week old chap, and tea with the Queen, but then there were quite a few eccentric characters around Erith at the time, as there probably still are

I recently received a letter from from Honorary Member Wally Weeks which enclosed a letter from W.Bartlett, a former Commodore of EYC, to him.

It describes how the big flood of January 1953 affected the club and is dated 1st. February 1953. It must be noted that then the seawall was about 10 feet lower, roughly the same height as the bottom of the ramp by Mullen's green gates. Fred's Yard is where Andrew Bacon's is now.

Wally sailed on Sea Bat, an ex Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter (photo left) owned by former member Ted Rickett in 1926 and many other EYC craft since then. The names E D Rickets and Sea Bat appear on Club Trophy the Hansen Cup for 1934.

F.Finck.

Dear Wally,

We little thought, while enjoying your excellent party on Saturday night , at Erith, that the next few hours would bring such widespread trouble and damage. Indeed, beyond acknowledgement of the casual jesting remark that it was much better to be inside the "Running Horses", than out on the River that evening, no one had occasion seriously to give it further thought.

I went down to the Yacht Club and was glad to find that the "Garson" was safe in her berth, although the gangway and staging had been smashed up, and also that the "Star" boats on their high rack had fortunately just escaped.

Your own motorboat had just gone a bit further up into the reeds, but was not damaged, although it will probably need a good pull next springs to get it off.

A number of the yachts in the saltings got out of their mud berths , and are now sitting at funny angles on the top, while three or four went up the side of the (sea)wall, but we think that they can be got down again in due course with rollers and a bit of digging.

Several of the boats in Fred's Yard however fared worse, and several went over the wall into the field behind - where I am afraid they will probably stay.

I heard that it was reported that your works was flooded out and isolated, but trust that at least some of the report was exaggerated. We at East Greenwich somehow completely escaped this time - although we have had shops flooded and the drains come back on us several times within my memory.

Anyway, please accept my best thanks for a very pleasant evening on Saturday, and my best wishes to the Rowing and Sailing section of your organisation.
Yours very sincerely,

 

Photo taken at the Club during the flood of 1953. We believe the photograph is taken looking down the (old) sea wall towards Crayfordness. The river is shown on the left, with the lower of the old barge roads just visible. The water on the right of the picture is in the fields! The sea wall has since then been raised significantly.

 

 


ERITH YACHT CLUB, VESSEL STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, EXTRAORDINARY EFFECTS.

The account below has no date but would appear to be in the early 1900s, Faith being mentioned in the Club handbook for 1906. She was a 12 ton cutter but whether the good Doctors actually carried a "steward" or whether they'd taken the Club Steward on a jolly,I don't know. Note also the race times not just for the handicap system, but for the time it took to do the race for class A. This is why it was considerd no mean feat to make Queenbrough on the tide! I apologise for the words containing ? , the original's part damaged.

Fred Finck.

Two handicaps were brought off on Saturday last by the above named Club, being the commencement of the racing fixtures for the season. For class "A" boats the course was from Erith to the Ovens buoy, finishing at Gravesend, and prizes were offered by Messrs. Hoyes and Vining. For the second class the course was from Erith to Terrace Pier, Gravesend. Mr.T.R. Peckitt being the prize donor. Owing to the inclement weather, only a small company of members and friends witnessed the start , which was carried out under the direction of Mr.J.Streeten. The wind at the time was fair. Respecting the big class, six boats competed, the handicaps being as follow: Mr.A.I.Gaze's Lady Georgiana and Mr.F.Hole's
Knockabout, scratch; Mr.J.Stone's Virago 1 min. ;Mr.J. Lloyd's Bird o' Freedom, Mr.G.Hall's Volante and Drs. Ganney and Williams Faith, 3 min. A good start was effected at 3.15. The wind proved very variable. It got to ESE, but but half way down all the south went out of it, and it slapped round west , bringing a heavy thunderstorm with it. The lightning struck Faith inflicting damage. During the storm Knockabout forged ahead , and led round the Ovens, Lady Georgiana second and Volante third, but in the off chances which prevailed in working up to the finish Virago slipped in and took first prize, at 7h. 14min. 50 sec. ;Bird o'Freedom gaining second award, 7h.16 min. 30 sec. ; and Volante third, at7h. 17 min. 40 sec. In the second class the vessels competing were four in number, viz., Mr.C . Barham's Odd Trick, scratch; Mr. H.N. Lloyd's Sea Gull, 5 min, ; Miss Stone's Nellie, 7 min, ; and Mr.E.G. Hasselhuin's Maola, 14. min. The start was at three o'clock. Maola was too previous in crossing the line and was recalled. Odd Trick had it all her own way and won at 4h. 40min. 15sec., beating Sea Gull by 6 min., Nellie being third ? min. later. Mr.J.Wood-Jiggins was the officer of the day at Gravesend and was an Erith member.

As to the mishap to Faith, those aboard must consider themselves fortunate in escaping injury. They were four in number - Ganney and Williams ( the owners ), Mr W.E. Nicoll ( secretary of Woolwich Electricity Co.), and the steward. Dr.Ganney was at the helm, and the boat was going down on th port tack, when a sudden flash of lightning followed by a terrific burst of thunder, struck the mast, tearing the flag into shreds. It split the truck and the starboard topmast stay; then, passing down; it dislocated a tank containing 50 gallons of water and entering the cabin scorched the roof and walls, while some of the timber caught fire. Every piece of crockery in the small pantry was broken, and a number of eggs exploded " like torpedoes." The content of the eggs bespattered the steward from head to foot, and he was completely knocked out of the cabin by the concussion caused by the lightning striking the boat. The fire was quickly put out. The occupants felt effects of the shock. It was at first thought that one of the Tilbury fort guns had fired on the yacht by accident.


FIREWORK PARTY IN THE1970's?

Preparing for Nov.5th where we used to roast a kid or two but some escaped. We are sorry for our omissions and hence our current misfortunes. Click on the photo to expand

Map of the Club as it was before the tipping of the fill, showing the line of the original 'two plank' plankwalk over the saltings and the replacement 'M1' built of railway sleepers on telegraph poles. This was wide enough to take accomodate a Star on a trailer or a barrow full of beer barrels. Click the image to expand.
I found the following in an EYC Newsletter for Autumn 1977. Fred Finck.

Everyone should attend working Sundays with the following exceptions… er…?
Races are not meant to start at the times stipulated.
In cases of sinking throw out women and children first.
Trots are caused by laxatives.
Heaven is experienced by the Skipper of the slowest boat beating all comers.


You may think the above is a joke - you try racing against the keen types.
A reef in time saves sending the wife/girl friend on to the foredeck when it is dangerous.
Cancel the above !
Have you ever experienced the need to go to the loo when sailing single-handed in a stiff breeze in a busy shipping lane ?
Trying out a spinnaker in a stiff breeze when attached to a mooring is frowned on.


Cancellation of races should remain a secret until the following day.
Loos are strictly for the birds.
Under no circumstances should the weakest member of the crew attempt to pick up a mooring when the boat is sailing at more than 5 knots.
Burgees should not be flown when entertaining another man's wife on board.


Signed Fibre Glass.


From House Committee Minutes Sept. 1951

Steward's Holiday.This came up for discussion and it was decided to ask the General Committee to grant 2 weeks. This, if possible, only to include one weekend away from the Club.

In those days the focsle of the Garson 2, the lightship was used for storing member's junk, club tools, etc. It was also the "Gentlemen Member's " changing room. Hence…………

Female Members. Mr. Traish raised some objection to females being so much in evidence in the forecastle. After a lengthy discussion it was decided that nothing could be done about this at the moment.

Of Penn's and Battleships.


Sailing up river in Erith Reach and a bit bored ? Have a look on the Essex shore between Ford's jetty and Ready Mix, Dagenham, and you should see a smallish wooden jetty used by tankers discharging chemicals ashore. This is Thunderer jetty, you hear it mentioned on channel 14 when berthing operations are taking place.

Continue upstream to Bow Creek for here was the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co. On the Blackwall side there were slipways, with workshops on the opposite bank of the creek. However Thames Ironworks was not the original yard, building first commenced on the site in 1836/8 by Ditchburn and Mare and were simple iron built passenger vessels, steam engined paddlers. There then followed several changes of title and ownership until Thames Ironworks arrived in 1857 where they remained when, in December 1912 on completion of HMS Thunderer , the yard closed. At some 22,500 tons full load displacement and drawing 27ft. 6 ins. she was the largest warship built on the Thames.

On leaving the builders yard she went downriver to Dagenham where her engines were installed. These were steam turbines of 27,000 indicated HP.and manufactured by Penn's who also supplied the engines for Ditchburn and Mare's paddle steamers earlier in 1836.
Penn's started in around 1800 by John Penn, a journeyman millwright. At the time " mill " referred to anything from revolving machinery, powered by a variety of sources, to a complete engineering complex making a variety of mechanical products. Some 25 years later Penn's commenced building steam engines for marine use although steam engines for driving machinery had previously been in production for some time.

The main engine works were at Blackheath and in Deptford, the boiler works, the two being linked by horse drawn carts and traction engines.

Thames Ironworks and Penn's joined forces in 1899 until that sad day in 1912 ……you will find John Penn St. which marks the worksite, roughly at the bottom of Blackheath Hill on the left hand side, London bound.

One of Penn's unusual jobs had nothing to do with marine engines, the Aeronautical Society, then in Blackheath, contracted them to build a wind tunnel. This may have been a " first " in the story of flight.

Also, seeing the decline in marine engineering Penn's diversified into the manufacture of motor cars under the trade name " Thames ". This was done in an attempt to maintain his workforce in employment and comes as no surprise as a pension scheme was in operation for deserving workmen and widows. A " firm " far sighted in labour relations for it's time.

It might also be noted that in its heyday shipbuilding in iron on the Thames
was far greater than that of the Tyne and Clyde combined. It was, I am led to believe, that it was the cost of shipping the scrap iron back up north that contributed to the decline of the industry on the Thames.
All this because of a jetty called Thunderer……what else are you missing?

Should you wish to know more about this subject I strongly refer you to :--

Shipbuilders of the Thames and Medway by Philip Banbury, published by David and Charles.


Fred Finck
.

Piloting a yacht which never goes to sea . . .

This is from a newspaper dated May 31st. 1938. Thus it could a forerunner of the Hamble Star but the wheels fell off in transit!

Fred Finck

"Piloting a yacht which never goes to sea . . . that's the daily job of Mr. W. H. Slater, former naval Petty Officer and coastguard, of Quarry House, Cliffe, Kent. You see, his yacht-it's the one in this picture-sails over the land-on rails. Mr. Slater's now watchman of a disused cement works at Cliffe Creek, and his cottage is a mile away. A disused railroad runs from his cottage to the factory. He used to walk, then one day he saw a truck on the railroad being gently blown along by the breeze, and that gave him the idea for his yacht."

Belated thanks to E.Y.C.

In 1949 my friend Vic, and I, bought an old ship's lifeboat, moored at Putney, and got a local boatman to tow us down the Thames to the Limehouse Cut, which at that time had its own lock.

We had to push our way through a jam of loaded and empty lighters in the Cut until we could start on the long trek along the towpath, taking turns to pull or steer. Our destination was Radley's boatyard on the river Lea, situated between Walthamstow and Clapton.

We worked on it for a year and by September 1950 we had turned it into a nice looking little yacht. Everything was in short supply after the war but we managed to buy a second hand British Anzani outboard which we hung over the side.

Athough it was late in the year we decided to try and get it round to Maldon. We set off back down the Lea, under engine this time, and spent the night moored in the Cut next to Bow Locks. We were woken early by the lock keeper and were surprised to find that the whole of the lock was under water and we could go over the top into Bow Creek without paying.

Off Limehouse the prop hit an obstruction and the shear pin parted. The mast was still lowered and we were swept sidewise on to the front of a moored Tate and Lyle barge. We thought we were going to lose the boat but managed to push it round to the side of the barge and tie on. We replaced the pin, hoisted the mast and set off again.

We sailed down to Hole Haven where we anchored for the night. Unfortunately we were pinned down for a few days by a gale which, we read afterwards, pushed the old Queen Mary on to a sand bank off the Isle of Wight. We decided to give up Maldon and get back to the Lea.

Progress back up the Thames was very slow against the prevailing West wind. through lack of keel the boat would only sail well off the wind and the engine kept stopping.

By Saturday afternoon we had reached Enth. The tide turned against us and we were making no progress. We decided to run into the South shore and drop the anchor. As we approached, a chap in an open workboat came alongside and offered to tow us to a mooring. He then brought us out a dinghy and told us to come ashore when we were ready. (We had no dinghy and our method of getting ashore had been to go aground and wait for the tide to go out.)

We rowed ashore to a warm welcome in an old lightship. The boatman agreed to look after the boat for a week and have a look at our outboard. (The river Lea locks did not open on a Sunday and our week's holiday time had finished.) We then set off in the dark to find the local railway station.

The following Friday, after work we caught a train back to Erith and followed the tortous route across the planks to the lightship. On Saturday morning we set off upriver but only got to Barking before the engine stopped and we had to anchor in the extremely smelly water to prevent getting swept back down river.

Eventually a young lad in a workboat came by and took pity on us. He towed us through the shallows against the tide and moored us alongside the old North Woolwich Railway Pier, where we were surrounded by tugs and working Thames sailing barges. We spent the night there and worked on the engine on Sunday but to no avail. On Monday morning I persuaded a tug skipper to give us a tow as far as the enitrance to Bow Creek and we used the tide and paddles to take us up to Bow lock.

Once again we had the long walk along the towpath but fortunately, around Hackney, we were overtaken by a barge pulled by a large white horse, and the bargee kindly offered us a tow. I don't think that there are many yachtsmen alive today who can claim to have their yacht towed by a horse.

The following year we managed to get the boat to Hullbridge, on the Crouch, where we kept it for a number of years. We always remember the kindness and help we received from the members and staff of Erith Yacht Club in those far offdays, when the commercial Thames could be quite a hostile environment. My friend Vic has been gone some years but I would like to wish every success to the Commodore and members of the present Club.

P.S I enclose a picture of the'Endymion'. So called because Vic reckoned it was the fastest boat in Nelson's Navy. I'm afraid it didn't live up to its name.

Norman Dorrington