I was kindly invited by GoBoat London on a 2-hr boat trip along the River Thames. Having already done it last year and enjoyed it immensely, I was too happy to say yes to it. I thought maybe this time around I’d be able to do it on a sunny afternoon so I could take much better photos and videos of the trip compared to when we did it in May last year. I was also looking forward to making it to Hampton Court Palace this time around because it was too cold for us to do it last year.
I invited my friends along with me who have never done it before thinking that it would be a great day out for us all. That was my first mistake – before choosing who’s going with me I should have asked them questions like: “What is your hand/eye coordination like?” or “Do you know your right from left?” or “How good are your eyes? Can you see a bush if it’s 5ft away from you?” and last but definitely not the least “Can you manage to drive a water vessel that was made so easy that a kid could literally drive it without hesitation?”
GoBoat allows a maximum of 4 people from different households at the moment so I had three of my friends with me. The plan was, they’ll take turns driving the boat while I take as much photos and videos during the ride for content on my blog and instagram. I’ve done it before with my husband and it was easy so I had full confidence in them, they’re sane adults after all and weren’t under the influence of alcohol nor drugs at the time at least.
Our boat was booked for 3pm and we arrived 15 minutes earlier for registration and for a short explanation on where to go, how to drive the boat and that their emergency contact number is in the boat somewhere in case we need them – turns out the last bit was extremely important for us.
Let me quickly tell you how the boat is supposed to be driven – you twist the handle to the left to go foward. Twist it to the right to reverse. If you want the boat to go to the right, you need to steer the handle to the left and if you want the boat to go to the left, you need to steer the handle to the right. Simple, yes?
Not At All!
We haven’t even gone far off from where the boat was docked and we already almost crashed into a stationary houseboat opposite the river. I’ve no freaking idea how that happened because the boat was made to move very slowly as it’s meant for a leisurely cruising. It’s so slow that you can literally outrun it, I know because I’ve tried it before when we were walking by the River Thames.
So seeing that you’re about to crash on a houseboat in slow motion actually makes you want to laugh at the same time panic because of the stupidity of it all. Imagine the Titanic crashing into the iceberg, captain sees the massive iceberg from afar and thought “Nah, still too far away. Let’s move a little closer and then steer the ship at the very last minute, see what happens. Why? Because I’m a f*cking daredevil that’s why!”
As I was watching our boat that’s about to crash into a houseboat in slow motion, my peripheral vision saw my friend G whose initial reaction was to jump on top of the boat and willed it to stop with her hands outstretched like a proper Avenger. At some point, my friends who were driving managed to reverse it. That or maybe G does have super powers. Thankfully, I was able to capture it all on a video.
After that incident, I thought it’s just a matter of time now and they’ll get the hang of it.
We then sailed straight into the banks of the river where a man who’s fishing called us stupid because our boat cruised through his fishing line. Again, I’ve no idea what our boat drivers were doing because you could clearly see in the video below that we’re about to crash and yet, we didn’t change directions. Daredevils I tell you. Lol.
Did you hear the man calling us stupid? To be fair, I believe we deserved it. Lol.
Afterwards, we succesfully sailed through more bushes and ravines along the banks of the river. G and I who were sitting upfront were parting the leaves and the branches with our arms to give way for our boat that I actually had scratches when I got home. I had to commend G though because of her Avenger-like reflexes, she managed to save the wine and glasses just before our boat went through the bushes in one sweeping motion. She does deserve a Medal of Honor or something similar. Unfortunately, this was not captured on video.
As we continued on (yes we did), the drivers managed to lift the steering handle up from the boat for reasons I couldn’t explain and so we panicked. I mean, how can you not panic when the very thing that’s meant to drive the boat to safety is up in the air? I seriously can’t explain this and I don’t think they can too as to how they managed to do it.
At this time, the engine died (or so we thought) and just because it wasn’t exciting enough, it started raining. Of biblical proportions. I called up the emergency number and was advised that they’ll get to us as soon as they can. So we wait. Sitting on a boat. Under the rain. Looking like refugees waiting to be rescued.
As we were waiting, our boat managed to turn itself around so that we’re facing the wrong direction of the river. Another boat started honking its horn and its captain was visibly upset at us. I managed to speak to him though and when he found out that we were having engine problems he was sympathetic and apologetic for shouting. He even offered to help but we told him that GoBoat staff is coming to save us.
Finally, the GoBoat staff arrived and alongside her was the River Patrol. My friend G thought that the River Patrol must have seen our incapability to manage this boat from afar and they’re kicking us out from the river to save us and others from further (mental and physical) damage.
GoBoat staff quickly checked our propeller just to make sure that it’s not ruined and also had a quick check of our engine. She then gave us two options, we can go back and they’ll give us a voucher to use for another time or we can continue the ride but we still need to get back on time. The latter option means that we won’t be able to make it to Hampton Court which was actually what I was looking forward to.
Decisions needed to be quick and I thought, f*ck that sh*t I’m taking over. I’ll drive this boat myself and probably just do it again another time to take photos and videos. We’re already here anyway, my friends traveled all the way from North and East London, we’re already wet and we’ve been through enough – let’s just suck it all up and continue on the journey to make it worthwhile.
So I took over while the River Patrol watched if I am in the right mental capacity to drive the boat. Lol. The GoBoat staff sailed alongside us for a couple of minutes just to make sure that everything’s well before leaving us again to ourselves. The River Patrol also left afterwards, thank God for that! And just like a sign of good times ahead, the sun came back. All we needed then was a dove flying into our boat with a branch of olive tree to tell us of the good news and our story could definitely be biblical.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t take over sooner it’s because I needed to take photos and videos of the journey since I got this on a complimentary basis from GoBoat. It’s not that I so desperately want to take photos and videos out of vain but because I need content on my blog and instagram posts that I’ll do for GoBoat.
Anyway, nothing much to say now from then on except for we managed to enjoy the rest of our day on the boat and that I have no idea what the drama and commotion was all about driving it because it was really very easy. If you’re reading this and you’re planning to go on a GoBoat ride yourself, don’t be scared. It’s so easy and I managed to get the hang of it all as quickly as I could because the River Patrol was watching. Lol. At some point, I also had to give it back to one of the original drivers so I could take some photos and she managed to do it as well. F*ck knows why we went through what we went through in the beginning. Lol.
When we brought the boat back, the staff who helped us multiple times in this journey was just way too happy when she saw us and waved frantically from afar. She was probably very worried for us and couldn’t believe that we made it back in time and in one piece – us and the boat.
Branches and leaves were strewn on the floor of the boat when we returned it to them. You’d think that we sailed through the Amazon River on a stormy day and not the Thames by the looks of it.
I do want to say how extremely patient and well-prepared GoBoat is to handle even the looniest of all people – us. I couldn’t thank them enough for being so calm when I was already so stressed on the phone with them when I called during our emergency. Lol.
Lastly, I also want to thank my friends for coming with me. If not for all of you, I wouldn’t have this fun story to tell on my blog (and my grandchildren in years to come). However, I will definitely avoid being in the same boat as you all are at all cost even if it’s the last boat and the zombies are close to biting me. Honestly? Zombies could probably drive that freaking goboat better than you lot. Lol.
Jokes aside, I had fun with them despite it all. Here’s a video of the good bits of our ride – as you can see, it’s a short video. Lol.