Crossing the Channel in an oil drum raft - daft?!

When you’re crossing the English Channel, 30 miles of cold and choppy water, I’m sure most of us would like more than just 6 oils drums and a sheet of wood between us and the depths of the Atlantic.

But that’s what two bold Germans and a Frenchman have ‘accomplished’ after navigating the 9hr crossing in what Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman Mark Clark refers to as similar to “crossing the M25 on a scooter with a blindfold on”.


This seems to me to be quite an exercise in stupidity. I think had the three men resolved to do this of their own volition and manned a singlehanded (or indeed triplehanded) attempt at Channel crossing I could let it go as poor judgment and a rather serious lack of foresight for, as the spokesman notes:

But this was not some half arsed scheme cooked up in a moment of bravado, it was a joint venture, planned and executed by several councillors and the Boulogne and Shepway Co-operation Association, whose manager, Lynn Dockar, was also arrested forming part of the welcome committee at Folkestone.

And it’s not just the danger to shipping traffic that is galling, they took no concern for their own lives,

Now that’s just silly.

So what is the general consensus, if indeed there is one? Should these ‘dignitaries’ have been arrested upon landing, though they were released without charge after 10 hours in the cells? Or was this a simple act of friendship gone awry and we should have foregone the castigation the men received in reciprocal benevolence?

I’m torn, as I certainly don’t believe the men meant any harm, but this just seems a shade too far for simply ruffling their hair like naughty boys and shaking your head at their folly.

One thing is for certain, their ‘symbolic journey across the Channel carrying a message of goodwill’ has likely not engendered the goodwill intended on either side of the Channel. :wink:

*And now the Shipping Forecast, issued by the Met Office on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Forth, Tyne, Dogger. Southeast 3. Occasional rain. Poor.
Humber, Thames. Southeast veering southwest 4 or 5. Thundery showers. Poor.
Dover. Northwest 2. Lunacy becoming idiocy. Arrests imminent 3. Severe.
Plymouth, Portland, Wight. Northwest 1. Rain. Mild.
Lundy, Fastnet, Irish Sea. Northeast 1. Rain. Poor.

That was the Shipping Forecast for 1700 hours, Wednesday the 8th of August." *

Nice one, centurion. Like it, like it. :smiley:

The picture appears to show a row of four outboard motors along the stern, so it’s not quite the rickety raft we’re led to imagine.

But that aside… there was a welcoming party - therefore this was an organised event, therefore they should have checked with the coastguard.

It seems a bit over the top to have locked them up for 10 hours though - should have just turned them around and sent them home (only 9 hours)

I’m with Mangetout. The irresponsible element was not involving the coastguard from the start. What they did is like running across a motorway, just for kicks.
Darkness outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer…

Yes, I’d have thought checking with the coastguard was the priority with a close second being ensuring some form of safety equipment and radio contact, although I guess that’s their own lookout. If you want to attempt dangerous things with no regard to your own safety, in some respects good luck to you!

But turning them around and sending them home would seem a tad foolish, perhaps *taking * them home might be safer? No point saying you can’t land becuase you’ve just done something hazardous, now go do the whole thing again! :stuck_out_tongue:

What took them so long? People can swim across faster then they took a boat.

Fastest swim across was a little over 7 hours, yes, but that will have been by an optimal route. Boulogne-Folkestone is approxmately half as far again as the shortest crossing, plus a bunch of oil drums lashed to planks is hardly a streamlined craft.

Boys will be boys, that’s what I say.

There’s nothing that beats the feeling of conquering the ocean in a selfmade craft :wink:

I did the same thing* when I was a kid. Me and a friend tied toghether some huge trunks of driftwood we found on the beach, and nailed a 9,9 hp outboard motor to it, and set off. What we didn’t anticipate was to run out of fuel, so we got rescued in the evening when our parents started looking for us.

But I do agree that it was stupid to cross the English channel without some word with the coast guard. Anywhere else without all the shipping, and I would say what’s all the fuss about.

  • not the English channel, just on the north west coast of Norway