The MBM team report back from the greatest on water event for 300 years
Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant had arrived, and we had managed to secure a
place in the 1000-strong Flotilla, as part of the recreational boat fleet.
We were aboard
MBM team member’s Neale Byart and Claire Frew’s boat, T L Sea, a Sealine S28, berthed in Essex. She made the journey up
earlier in the week, joining participants of the MBM Cruising Club Jubilee
threatened, but, in true British fashion, nothing was going to get in the way
of celebrating 60 years of our glorious Queen.
The day started
slowly, with keen anticipation turning to nervous impatience. Having been
ferried to TL Sea before 0900hrs it
was not until 1400hrs that we heard any news on departure. Luckily for us, we
had Barbara Windsor and Steve McFadden, of Eastenders fame, sat alongside to
keep us entertained.
The rowing boats
marked the start of the Flotilla’s move downstream, pulling past us just after
2pm. A most spectacular sight as they bunched together to squeeze through the
moored boats. Soon we were following behind, the sheer number of boats quite
awe-inspiring to witness.
Another moment to
savor was the crowds lining the riverbanks. Cheering and waving their flags,
they created an enormous sense of pride across the feet. We onboard TL Sea felt humbled by it all, acutely
aware that we were part of something very special and historic. We also admit
we succumbed to a slight feeling of celebrity, as any wave from the boat
brought a huge and immediate response from the crowds ashore.
was plenty of drama on the water. The VHF radio buzzed with activity. An
imposter vessel tried to sneak into the middle of the fleet, but security craft
soon removed them from the flotilla.
As we approached
the city, impossibly the crowds seemed to grow in number and volume. Rain was
now hammering down on TL Sea’s canopy
overhead, but nothing could drown out the roars from the shore. It was such an
amazing feeling, being part of the biggest event of its type on the Thames for
Tower Bridge was
open to salute passing vessels, and soon after we dipped our ensign as we
passed Her Majesty the Queen who was now moored safely at President’s Quay.
Here, just down
from Tower Bridge, we passed the official finish line for the Flotilla, but the
Pageant was far from over for us and the other 999 vessels. As to avoid
congestion, we all made our way to the Thames Barrier before turning back
upstream and heading for Limehouse lock where we would berth for the night.
Read the full
story in the August issue of MBM.