My Mum was a true cockney, born within the sound of Bow Bells before the War, she used to tell me about her childhood, when on Sunday afternoons they would usually have oysters, which had been brought up the Thames fresh from Brightlingsea and Whitstable. Back in those days and even back to Victorian years, oysters were a staple part of the Londoner’s diet.
Several times a week sailing boats would come up the Thames to Billinsgate with tons of freshly caught oysters to supply demand. The trip under sail, especially with light winds would normally take two tides, the boats waiting out the ebb at anchor. In extreme cases, with light or contrary winds, the trip could take as long as a week!
Fast forward 70 years or so, and some of the leading catamaran racers decided to set a new record for the trip, sailing Olympic class - Tornado catamarans. Shadowed by a rib and support team, they raced up the Thames 55 miles from Whitstable to St Katherine’s Dock.
Photo courtesy Thames RAIDers
To qualify each Tornado had to carry 12 oysters (a bit les than the 100 tons which their forebears would have carried). Needless to say the cats did the trip a bit quicker, covering the distance in just over four and half hours at an average speed of 12 MPH.
You can read about the second Thames RAID here, since then there have been trips to Ramsgate, Rye, Alderney, Cherbourg even a circumnavigation of the Isle of Sheppey.
I wonder if I can persuade Erica that we should get a Tornado as a replacement for Greta?