Posts Tagged ‘river police’

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Focaccia the police

June 27, 2017

Early on Monday the 26th of June, we learned that HMS Queen Elizabeth was due to leave Rosyth for the first time later in the day. After a bit of homework, it became clear that the timings would allow us to be out on the River Forth onboard our Macwester Malin at the same time. We slipped our mooring at 5pm and headed down river via the Ghauts. At the bottom left-hand corner of the shot above, you can just see the Ghauts in yellow on our chartplotter, which ties in with the view I had through our sprayhood.

There were other yachts out on the water when we arrived, but for some reason we were the only ones that were on the north side of the river. We kept a respectful distance from the new aircraft carrier, under the constant gaze of several police craft. Eventually, I switched off our Macwester Malin’s engine and just drifted while we watched the operation unfold. We were joined by friends in the rescue boat from our club which was full, followed by Christina II. Calloo and Chiron would put in an appearance later.

The crew was out on deck when a police rib took a wide arch around our bow over to our starboard, presumably to check us out. While they were about 15 maybe 20 metres away the crew asked them whether they wanted a snack, by holding out the aforementioned snack and saying “focaccia bread stick?”. The police officers’ demeanour immediately changed, and they had very stern faces as they drew alongside, at which point the crew cheerily re-offered the bread sticks. The penny dropped and the officers’ faces lit up, as they realised that she wasn’t shouting profanities at them after all.

They asked about our movements, so we told them that we would need to be back on our mooring by 7.15pm, and that our plan was to walk over the Forth Road Bridge around 11.30pm at low water when HMS Queen Elizabeth would be passing below. Thankfully, they told us that the bridge would be closed to foot passengers (which seemed like a sensible precaution), so we dropped that from our itinerary.

As it transpired, I would actually be shouting profanities aimed at the very same police officers later on, when I noticed the black marks their rib had left along the length of our gelcoat. However, by then we were parked on our mooring, and the police were well out of earshot.

For a while near ‘Dhu Craig’ (a buoy) it seemed to get quite busy, with tugs manoeuvring left, right and centre, the police craft darting about, and boats from our club milling around, including Calloo shown above. It was a bit reminiscent of mustering for the start of a race or flotilla. Eventually Calloo set a course over to the south side of the river, and we decided to follow.

We have actually been a lot closer to HMS Queen Elizabeth on several occasions over the proceeding years, but she was always partially hidden behind the outer walls of the dockyard at Rosyth. This was the first time that we had crossed in front of her bow without a barrier between us. Fortunately she was at anchor, not angrily steaming towards us at 25 knots.

As time was slipping away we slowly started heading back towards our mooring, but then a couple of choppers approached from the north. They circled HMS Queen Elizabeth and flew over towards us, so we turned and slowly motored back down river for a better view of the action.

Then the helicopters repeated the same manoeuvre, but this time one flew almost directly overhead while the other peeled-off and headed over in the direction of Calloo. It was a fitting end to our time on the river. As we were now a tad behind schedule, I pressed on towards our mooring until I was comfortable that we had some time in hand. Calloo arrived before us, but as they knew we had less water at our mooring, they kindly let us have access to the harbour first. We shut the boat down quickly, and were ashore with time to spare.

In the car it became clear that we all enjoyed our evening out on the river, and rather predictably I couldn’t help but crank-up some NWA from way back in August 1988.

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