TWO MEMBERS OF THE J.M.B.C. HAVE A DAY OUT. THE assembled company said we were mad. There are, however, degrees of madness; and we were merely going
for a down-river ‘blind.’ True, the wind howled and the thermometer seemed to have difficulty in keeping any mercury in the tube at all, but with helmets on and our waterproof clothing bulging out of our life jackets, we felt we might see it through.
A flick of the cord set the Johnson 32 in motion and the hiss of the two idling cylinders became a roar as the ‘ release charger” was moved over, finally developing into silence as the automatic ‘ cut out ‘ came into action. Travelling at 30 miles per hour into a 30 miles an hour wind causes a certain draughtiness, and with an an effort we secured the wildly flapping sides of our flying helmets, while the boat streaked over the
waves with that gentle clatter so beloved by all those who “outboard.”
A momentary increase in the engine noise signified the passing of Richmond Bridge and after a slight swerve, caused by the construction of a new bridge, we raced down the side of Kew Gardens and under Kew Bridge. There, on the left, was Cubitts Dock, the home of the “Yachting Cap Brigade,” and on our right, two police boats.
Another two second roar from the engine while Barnes Bridge passed, and with a smart eyes right,” we raced by the Mortlake Brewery.
” Better put the rest of the juice in the tank,” roared the pilot. “Stand by.” With the boat drifting about, the pilot slopped the petrol in all directions while I wiped it up.
Once again the Johnson emitted its preliminary roar, becoming silent as the boat planed.
“Funny,” said the pilot, “the wind seems to have changed.” So it had.
“Why, hang it ; there are two more police boats. The river’s full of police.” He was right. That made four police boats in about half a mile. A most unusual thing. My ponderings, however, were suddenly interrupted by a muffled ” Great Snakes,” from the pilot. “There’s Cubitts Dock again. There aren’t two of them. Are there ? “
I began to see why the wind had changed. It also began to dawn upon me why we had encountered four police boats.
As we turned the boat around, the pilot leaned towards me.
” Old man,” he said, ” if this leaks out, we’re ruined, is mum ‘ the word ? “
And with a nod, I murrnered ” Mum it is.”
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