So, after the joys of a 7 hour drive up to Windemere on Friday afternoon, the return journey turned out even better! We left RWYC at about 4.45 pm and I dropped off my crew at Oxenholme Station just after 5. After getting something to eat and checking the trailer at Keele Services I thought things were looking better than Friday. Then at 8.15 pm my tyre blew and I had to pull onto the hard shoulder underneath Junction 7 of the M6 just north of Birmingham. After inspecting the shredded remains of the tyre I concluded the compressor foam kit in the car wasn’t going to help much so I phoned my breakdown assistance company to explain the problem – giving them details about the length of the boat and trailer. A recovery truck turned up about half an hour later but took one look at the keel and decided he couldn’t get it on the back of his rig without scraping something. He drove away saying the breakdown company would call me when they had found an alternative. Forty-five minutes later I got a call from them saying they couldn’t find another truck so it was up to me to sort out the situation from the side of a noisy M6! The only slightly helpful suggestion they made was to call up the Highways Agency from the nearest SOS phone box.
After a weird interruption from some foreigners waving a jump lead cable around, I walked down to the SOS box. The Highways Agency advisor tried to get hold of an emergency tyre repair company after some problems reading the size, in the dark, on a deformed tyre. After various calls they gave up on that idea (it was late on a Sunday evening by that point) and started to arrange a “Statutory Removal”. Sometime later a Highways Agency Patrol Vehicle drove up and set out their cones and warning signs and waited with me until the removal vehicle arrived (we spent a lot of time talking about the benefits of standing behind the crash barrier in the cold). Remarkably a very similar looking truck, as at 9pm, turned up at about 1215 am. After some thought about the trailer overhang this recovery driver managed to winch the boat onto the back of his truck by using a couple of blocks of wood under the wheels to avoid the rear of the trailer and keel touching the tarmac. So by roughly 12.30 pm the boat was all ready to drive off.
I then walked off down the edge of the hard shoulder to my car, which was parked far enough away to allow the recovery truck in. Then BANG and I turned around to see what you can see in the pictures. A blue Audi (A5?) had driven into the back of the patrol vehicle and ended up next to the central reservation just behind me. I went back to the patrol vehicle to see whether I could be any help but the recovery driver seemed to be immediately in control of the situation and was running around checking on the situation of the casualties. Luckily the two highways agency patrolmen managed to climb out of their vehicle in one piece after a minute or two in total shock. As soon as they were out they got on with their jobs of making the rest of the situation as safe as possible. They advised me to leave (probably because they didn’t want me going to sleep at the wheel as well). I finally got home without the boat at 2.40.
Yesterday afternoon I bought two new wheels (so I can keep the surviving wheel as a spare) and I collected the boat today from Warwick Services. I am off sailing tomorrow evening at Datchet.
Flying Fifteen #4027