LONDON AMST ‘RDAM by OUTBOARD
MR. R. T. COLE’S REMARKABLE CROSS-CHANNEL TRIP.
MR. R. C. COLE has made several trips to the Continent by outboard motor-boat, each one more ambitious than the previous. On his latest trip to Amsterdam he was accompanied by Miss Lander-Thomson, an Australian, who has had quite a deal of experience on sea-going cruisers. Together these two put up a very plucky show in the face of adverse weather and luck. The journey was planned from the point of view of British propaganda abroad.; and nothing about their outfit or equipment came from a foreign marque. Cole told me before he started from London, that he hopes to make during the coming year, similar trips to as many of the European capitals as may be practically reached by water.
The boat used has a reputation behind it for speed, for it is the well-known See National Class dinghy which has been so successful during the past season and, it is therefore of much interest to note that this hull proved one of the dryest in Mr. Cole’s experience, riding out some of the heaviest seas that he has met with. The length of the boat is 14ft. with a 4ft. 6in, beam, while the bottom has a novel clincker construction in which the planks are lapped over in the reverse way to normal practice. Apparently, in this direction no loss of strength is experienced for in spite of a very severe buffeting with a load far above normal the hull remained perfectly tight. The Only alterations to the boat itself, were the fitting of a back seat to the front thwart and an extension to the foredeck to provide extra dry stowage for luggage, etc. A 13 gallon auxiliary fuel tank was fitted amidships, from which petrol was pumped direct to the Sharland motor.
I have always been interested in this engine and as Cole is the only man who has in recent months made any outboard endurance tests I have had to wait till now to hear about this motor as a sea-going proposition. Its performance has more than justified my hopes.
As a precaution, one of the 125 c.c. twostroke Sharlands was carried under the fore deck, and purely owing to bad luck this little job was necessary to reach Amsterdam. A start was made from Westminster Bridge at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, the 8th of December. The run down the Thames should have been quite pleasant had it not been for a slight drizzle, for the day was quite calm. The engine was kept at throttle right down to the North Foreland and here Cole had got so far ahead of schedule that he proposed a stop to check up on all the nuts and bolts, as the engine was new, and to clear away some sludge in the float chamber of carburettor, the presence of which was indicated by a reluctance to accept full throttle. Everything was found to be tight, and, after checking up on the oil level, she was started, up and run on into Ramsgate at nearly full throttle, and in spite of the stop of approximately half-an-hour, they were tied up and snug by 4 p.m. This average of 18 m.p.h. for the 90 odd miles
to Ramsgate is believed to be the fastest time for any motor boat over this course. A pity they had that stop. Of course, anyone who goes to sea in a small open boat at this time of year must be an, enthusiast, and Miss Thomson and Mr. Cole demonstrated their enthusiasm by making a dawn start on Wednesday. This is not quite so bad as it sounds, however, for Cole informs me that I should note for reference purposes that dawn, is about 7 a.m. A quick run in clear weather and sublime optimism was made to Dover which was reached at 7,50 a.m. by their chronometer—a Schneider watch in which sole reliance was placed, and what is more, justified. At Dover the boat was refuelled, incidentally with a petrol well in keeping with an all-British trip—Regent. Customs took about three-quarters of an hour after which a course due S.W. was steered out of the harbour. Outside, the clear of the early morning had given place to a very misty atmosphere, and the sea was much rougher, necessitating a watchful eye on the compass and it was through this concentration that the captain ran the boat at a most awkward angle clean into the wake of a liner going down-Channel. A huge green wave crashed down on, the boat and engine, and about half-a-ton of water remained aboard. The motor, refusing to run on sea water in place of air, had naturally stopped and for the moment the position was critical. However, Miss Thomson clambered out on the fore deck to keep a level trim while Mr. Cole went aft to bail, a process which took about half-anhour. Rubber outboardhig suits by Anderson looked after their physical comfort while their mental wasso sorely
stressed, so it was not quite as bad as it might have been. Distress signals were waved with a Duckham’s oil flag. and. a Belgian cargo boat stood by, and after, wonder of wonders, the motor had started for the first time of asking, saw them safely back in Dover.
They put into the Camber at Dover, and here with the aid of the crew of a cable laying ship for which Cole was most thankful, the motor was taken down for inspection ; as there was not a drop of water inside, which is a new one in my experience of outboard motors, it was assembled, and trials were carried out with the lading of the boat to get a better trim. As a result, the boat was only overloaded to the extent of 17 gallons of petrol. The weather was far too bad the following day to attempt a crossing, and these conditions lasted up to Friday evening when the wind dropped.
At five to twelve they put out (ladies should particularly note this) in the wake of a cargo boat, and for three quarters of the way played touch-and-go with this vessel’s log line, after which, Mr. Cole states, they went ahead and steered a fancy course of their own into Calais.
A near Shave.
A near Shave. At the far end of the harbour entrance they ran their boat into a mass of floating seaweed which brought them to a sudden stop. Cole was clearing the weed from the prop when he suddenly saw the bulk of the cargo boat loom up in the Channel mouth. Cole got a decided move on with his work, and Miss Thomson flashed their torches straight at the bridge of the incoming boat, which, however, failed to see them at all. Further, she started to turn in the opening basin, and the stern of the boat driving round increased the danger a hundredfold for it put them in direct line with the threshing propeller which was showing clear as the cargo boat was unladen. By this time they were shouting frantically, and it was only when the propeller of the vessel was a few yards away that they were noticed, and the engines stopped. Even so, nothing could have prevented the boat from swinging on and crashing them very badly had not the Sharland started up first yank of the cord. When the outboard fired the screw of the cargo boat was no more than five feet away. Feeling that a rest was indicated after the excitement, and that it was about 2 a.m., they mutually agreed to dispense with customs formalities for the night, and to achieve this object without being awak ened in an hour or two by an outraged official, the little craft was hidden in the lock at the entrance to the canals. Owing
to the time lost at Dover, another dawn start was proposed,seconded and executed.
An exceedingly choppy run was made to Dunkirk, where captain and crew put in to eat a hearty breakfast. The journey to Ostend was most unpleasant, and the heavy sea running re
duced them to a quarter-throttle, while at Ostend with a choppy sea right across the harbour mouth, 20 minutes was taken to get into the inner basin. Owing to the state of the tide it was necessary to wait three hours, until four o’clock, for the lock gates to be opened into the canals. They could do no more than just get into the canals,and then close down for the night. This delay of half-a day resulted in another burst of virtue for a dawn start was made on Sunday, 13th. Mr. Cole stated that “we reached Bruges so quickly that we had a job to stop,” but from what I understand the pangs of hunger exercised a greater force than that of enertia. Following breakfast, they had their second narrow escape. While awaiting to enter a lock, and wish ful of securing a good position, they cruised between two huge barges that were coming out. They had just abort crossed
the path of the second barge when an inch steel hawser pinged out of the water a foot behind the tank of the motor and tautened six feet above their heads! A stop was made at Ghent for lunch, and there the ship canal was followed to Ternenzen. On the way, the Dutch cus toms were passed with the following delightful little ceremony. A man on the bank shouted ” Oo Ay”, whereupon the boat was pulled into the bank. “You Engieesh ” ? was the next question, to which an affirmative was given. “You have booze on board, yes ? and here a regretful negative had to be given. The only other thing that seemed to bother them
was whether the motor ran on petrol or benzole, and on being told the former, Mr.
Cole apparently went up in their estimation for he was permitted to pass. The last part of the journey was completed after dark. A start was made as usual the following morning, but even so they missed the opening of the sea-lock into the West Sheld.t and consequently had to waste
half a day. The morning was spent in swabbing decks and being entertained by the captain of an English collier who seemed surprized at the dimensions of Mr. Cole’s boat, and even after producing field glasses and scanning the basin, declared he could not see it.
The Sharland disabled. After half-an-hour’s run out of Terneu
After half-an-hour’s run out of Terneuzen, in the direction of Williamsdyke, they had the misfortune to hit something of an exceedingly solid nature just below the surface of the water. The impact was sufficient to put the twin motor completely out of commission. They had been watched out of Terneuzen, and a boat put out soon after they stopped. When this motor-boat arrived, however, they had the other engine fixed on the transome. The night was spent at Williamsdyke.
Early starts were essential if Amsterdam was to be reached before the freezeup of the smaller canals, to avoid getting lost in the mass of intricate islands. A barge was followed to Dordrecht where a night was spent.
From Dordrecht they followed the canals to Gouda, where a lunch stop was made. The proposed termination for the day’s journey was to have been Alphatt, but things came to a complete stop at Boscote. Here there is a narrow channel connecting two main canals and as someone had left a sluice open back at Gouda, the water was coming through this channel like a mill race. About 30 barges were below, and, each in turn would, have a shot at riding up the rapids. They would get half-way, only to be overcome by the current, and sweep back out of control. After seeing one of the barge’s dinghies smashed to pulp, Cole put discretion as the better part of valour and put up for the night. Next morning an uneventful and. monotonous journey was made to Amsterdam, which was reached at 3 p.m.
At Amsterdam their headquarters was the De Hoop Rowing Club, and they were well looked after by Mr. C. A. Redfern, of the British Association. Cole states that for the last 250 miles, the small engine was going at full throttle for at least 12 hours a day, a fine performance.
EQUIPMENT USED IN THE TRIP.
Moseley float-on-air cushions and Schneider watch, Duckharn’s oil, Regent petrol, Anderson’s rubber outboarding suits, Speedoil upper cylinder lubricant, Pyrene and Ever-Ready torches. —P.M.