The trip out here started several weeks ago when LA:RS said he had a mate with access to a boat. Of course smif247 and & I jumped at the chance to join him. Little did we know of the trials and tribulations that were to follow.
Today was the day, Sunday 11th March 2012. We started out at Brompton Barracks, at 09:30 to meet LA:RS and Mug L. Guy for a brew before heading out to Borstal Marina, arrival time 10:30.
Upon arriving at the marina I began admiring the vessels wondering just which one we would be using. The thought of traveling out on a 30 foot yacht was quite overwhelming as we walked the jetty’s trying to find our mode of transport for the day. Mug L. Guy lead the way trying to tell us he knew where he was headed, when he decided to double back towards a small(ish) boat with a life raft tied to it. He proudly announced that here was our ride for the day! Needless to say my nerves started to jiggle a little.
Now we had to play a waiting game on the jetty for the tide to start coming in, this was because the boat was still on the mud and was obviously not going anywhere. Half an hour later and Mug L. Guy with the help of LA:RS decided it was time to start firing up the outboard motor. And not with much success. The engine coughed, spluttered, fired up and then stopped. This happened many times, until…
…It finally started!
After an hour or so of false starts all because Mug L. Guy forgot to flick the switch on the motor, we finally headed out off up the Medway at Midday, doing nothing more than 4 knots an hour on a two stroke/4hp engine boat. Better than a canoe but a speed boat would have been faster!
Our pride at finally gliding across the river was soon short lived! Soon after we had steered round the second jetty the engine decided to cut out once again. We coasted in towards the jetty, Smif247 and I hanging onto a cleat while LA:RS and Mug L. Guy had a few more attempts at firing up the motor. Which they did! With the throttle fully open and without warning to Smif247 and I we sped full pelt towards a moored 60 foot house boat (with residents still on board). Smif247 grabbed the nearest rope as I fell backwards on to the battery to power the bilge system.
Heart attack over and the motor finally still running we managed to get ourselves out of the predicament fairly quickly and without the residents of said boat being alerted to our little bump (thank goodness).
We enjoyed a gentle slog around the curves of Rochester, Chatham, St Marys Island and Hoo Fort. Traveling against the incoming tide, bouncing across a few swells here and there, when Smif247 announced he needed to relieve himself. Oh dear me! There goes my half bottle of water!
Not too long after, in the distance we spotted Fort Darnett. Excitement and adrenalin began pumping. The motor was still running. We really were going to make it there! It felt like the boat had started to speed up now or was that just our anticipation.
We moored up just behind a couple of rusty looking sunken barges, finding what was the metal remains of a jetty, I believe, (just a note, don’t use it to tie your boat too, because as the water reached high tide the metal bars lifted out of the water and LA:RS had to wade in to rescue the boat [:)])Arriving at approximately 13:40.
Soon after a long and well deserved comfort break, we quickly found the entry point to the fort, a solid plank of wood (maybe a sleeper) perched from a curved tunnel onto solid ground. This did not look particularly safe to me, just as LA:RS informed me that I was going first. I am not sure if this was because I am a female or because I was the lightest! Needless to say after taking 2 or 3 shuffled steps I decided to crawl across as my legs were still shaking from the immense vibration of the boat journey.
Once on solid ground the awe factor really began. new had finally made it to Fort Darnett in a boat that reminded me of my Mum’s old Austin Allegro )Sorry Mum)! What an amazingly well preserved Fort! You can see why the hippies camped out here during the Kingsnorth Power Station protests.
The four us soon had our varying gps units in hand (smart phones and Garmins) and started creeping around the inside of the fort looking for the geocache hiding place. Watching our step as we all kept going round in circles
“4ft this way”
“NO, 50ft this way”
“I’m sure it’s over here”
We eventually gave up trying to use gps signals as they were bouncing all over the place, when smif247 remembered one of the logs that Henly had written in the past about a “place holder” and went straight to that GZ and after a quick rummage around he had the cache in hand.
We dutifully photographed evidence of Ginger4x4’s visit from 2009 before
writing our own names on the log sheet and again photographing it as evidence that the “place holder” really does exist. Oh and we did consider looking for Ginger’s phone that he lost in the flooded lower floors, but well, we just thought better of it as none of us had a spare set of dry clothes. So I imagine it is still down there. Don’t think it will be of much use now though!
After replacing the container to its resting place, the
exploration of the site really began. With smif247 climbing
down holes, Mug L Guy climbing on the roof for a better view and LA:RS still determined to find the original cache container, while I enjoyed walking around the site (safely, unlike the others) taking as many photo’s as possible before settling just inside the fort near a strange looking contraption for a bag of crisps and a flask of tea.
Then at 15:00 we all headed back to the shore line to our rescued boat to start the long journey back to Borstal Marina (the boys couldn’t have picked a further starting point really)! Gingerly creeping back out in to the wash round bits of wood that now couldn’t be seen as the tide was now high and trying desperately to steer clear of the ship wrecked barges, home was only a couple of hours away.
Basking in our success at reviving this cache so that others know that it is still out there, we began to calm and feel the adrenalin leave us, I even dozed off on the way! Not sure how as that engine was mighty loud. We touched down on solid ground just after 17:00, very happy cachers in deed. We not only found the 4/4 micro container but had actually managed to arrive back at the marina in one piece, dry and with the boat engine still running.
Today has definitely been my most amazing day as a
geocacher and I would love to be able to thank Henly in person for dreaming up, setting up and maintaining the geocache on this site. Instead my thanks will have to go to Dave-Harris for adopting this geocache so it can remain alive and have many, many other total nut cases out to it in the future.
Truly from the bottom of my heart, TFTC [:D]