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by J.-F. Hulet

This is the true story of a memorable moment that happened to Jean-François Hulet on a crossing in 1970 ...

of the English Channel going from Dunkirk, France to Dover, UK. J-F was the ship’s boy on the sailing boat of fellow neighbours. Unfortunately no picture was taken of the unusual sighting, hence the drawing. The summer weather was warm, the sky crystal clear and the sea rather calm. Ideal summer conditions.

amphibious anglia 960

Jean-François was sitting at the bow checking the horizon ahead with his binoculars. All of a sudden he sees what seems to be a car going up and down with the gentle waves! He signalled that out to the skipper who decided to go near the unusual contraption to take a look. Soon the “Vindiktu” approaches and at their great surprise, a raft appears high on the water made out of tied big oil barrels capped by a flat deck in planks upon which a bright red Ford Anglia (yes, the car of Harry Potter) is mounted. The back wheels have been taken out and drive through the back transmission axles two large paddle wheels which barely touch the water…The driver sits at the wheel and “drives” this boat furiously revving the engine up to provide some thrust. Three other people are present: the wife who seems to be in charge of managing a crudely made rudder at the back of this strange aquatic vehicle, a boy and a girl in their teens wearing life jackets walking around the car on this precarious and unfenced platform. Startled at the scene, Jean-François initiated the conversation with the skipper and found out that the family had left Dover in the morning and were heading for Calais. Everything was going well and they were making good progress. No…they did not need any assistance! No towing was necessary. They would make this crossing on their own! The weather had been great and was forecast to continue to be so. Horrified and alarmed by this dangerous scene, the skipper of the “Vindiktu” insisted on proposing his help but was politely rebuffed. He nevertheless called via radio the French coastguard to inform them of this strange vehicle approaching Calais. Speaking of British eccentricity and plain human thoughtlessness, this was a wild example thereof! Upon arrival in Dover, the skipper and his crew were later told that everything had worked safely for that crazy family. The French coastguard actually went out and took them in tow. Never a dull moment at sea!