From Dover to Calais 10 Feet Above Sea
The Last Journey
From Dover To Calais 10 Feet Above Sea!
Back in 2000, when it was announced that the hovercraft service across the Channel was to cease, I felt a sudden loss. An affinity with the boat service I never knew existed came to the fore and took hold of me. My friend Chris and I decided that we had to take one last trip. Living in Dover and knowing that the hovercraft service had been started before I was born and having taken it for granted that it would always be there, our reaction, in retrospect, could not have been irrational.
With our limited resources, our plan was to stay put in Calais for two days and head back. Armed with recently acquired passports, an English-French dictionary and some cannot-disclose amount of money, we were all set and reached the ferry port well in time for departure. The SRN4 Mark III, the Princess Anne was to make one of its last voyages across the Channel to Calais.
Having secured our car in the vehicle deck, we made our way to the passenger cabin to the right of it (there was one on either side) where we had our seats. The seats were a pleasure behold and to the feel: airline seats on the ground. (or, rather water!). We settled down comfortably.
Has any of the readers experienced sailing by a hovercraft? It is a lingering experience, I can assure you. The wintry morning air on the hovercraft lent an air of adventure I always associated with wintry mornings and hovercraft though I could not figure out why. Soon, we heard the engines rev up and within no time at all, the craft was off at a speed of an around 50 knots.
The hovercraft service took itself very serious and called its trips "flights" which no one could grudge it. The craft, after all, travelled 10 feet above water! The service to match the one on a short flight was good too. It included hot cups of coffee, duty-free goods and a newspaper all brought to your seat literally on a platter. Not that you had the time or inclination to peer into the newspaper to read about some mundane affairs. It could all wait.
The sea below provided a good sight. Just 35 minutes later, before you realize it, we were at Calais hoverport. The craft made a smooth landing with not a jolt out of sync and cheers of joy erupted from the passengers.
We got off, relishing a sense of accomplishing something and already looking forward to that return voyage that would make the adventure complete. An item to put away for a nostalgic trip at a later date , i.e.now