Splicing the mainbrace


There’s a scene in a Monty Python film, The Meaning of Life, when a cartoon building turns into a windjammer and gets under way sailing through all the paraphenalia of shoreside life.

I was reminded of this surreal scene on Saturday when my wife, Cathy, and I shipped aboard the Thames sailing barge, Hydrogen, to join a 50-strong wedding party who set sail from Maldon with hats flying, gowns billowing and buck’s fizz flowing.

We sailed in a stiff south-wester down the River Blackwater from Maldon and straight through a local smack race: many fists were raised by the smack crews as they fought it out tack for tack, dipping under the great barge’s wind shadow.

The happy couple – Paul and Anna Cooper – took a trick at the wheel once we’d cleared the race.

So, apologies to the smacksmen, but you looked a fine sight and supplied a great backdrop to a wedding – which all agreed – was the best they could recall.