It is a truism that: “A rising tide raises all boats”. But as the tide comes in, does the water actually tilt forwards to flow uphill? Or is it simply: ‘Levelling-Up”?  And if it is doing it just to be politically correct; does it get any votes?

That was the question on Sunday. The thunder-clapping sound of loose sails banging about amongst the boats on the foreshore was quite intimidating enough. Could “Levelling-Up” actually mean “Levelling-Down” masts and sails: all flattened on the water? That was suddenly the opinion of Nick who, having rigged, promptly de-rigged. And Mary, too, looked decidedly anxious as Chris struggled to keep his boat on the trolley, even without a sail up.  

Tim Young and Leona with Tom were early on the water in the Safety Boat to help guide boats under Kew bridge for a ‘C’ course. But as the OOD made his way up Strand, it was apparent that Chris had very clearly been better advised – and had thought better of it: they were returning to the Club.

The OOD took up a bank position amongst the snowdrops and bluebells on a line from the last post on the barge pontoon to the water tower as the fleet of Rob, Joseph, Lev with David, and Lotte with Pat, came through the bridge and moored up on the pontoon rather than risk jilling about in the stiff wind, with rowers sculling about.  As they waited, so the north-easterly wind began to drop. However, Tim Wellburn with his son Rob had been blown through the bridge – and then onwards along Waterman’s Park. By a stroke of luck, the RNLI lifeboat was coming that way – and towed them back to the start line.

As they all set off, so the sun came out – and later news recounted how the Safety Boat had chased after them to set the buoy somewhat before the London Apprentice – and Joseph had overshot it. Meanwhile, Rob [who had already capsized and righted once] spotted the opportunity to make up time and rounded it ahead of Joseph – eventually to finish 59 seconds ahead.

Co-incidentally, the wind then veered from north-easterly to southwesterly. But it was quite unsure about it – and so held its breath in long lulls that meant that by the time it picked up Rob and Joseph and Lev were nearly 20 minutes ahead of Tim and Lotte across the finish line. However, quite extraordinarily, now with a following wind, they were all back before the tide had fully turned.

Expert control of the Safety Boat meant they were all slowly and carefully manoeuvred under the bridge since a “Falling tide lowers all boats”: except for Rob and Joseph who both deliberately decided that they were in charge themselves – and would get under it in their own way by “Levelling-Down”. 

OOD Andy Ross 10.05.2021

Lovely photos from Hans Styrnell high up in Brentford Dock. Many thanks. HB