The 25th Adventure Club Podcast: Dornum, Disguises, Ditches & Duck Soup

After weeks of sailing and suspense, ‘The Riddle of the Sands’ explodes into action on October 25.

At last we discover what the ‘Riddle’ is. Sadly, as you will hear, Lloyd notDavies and Tim notCarruthers fall out quite badly – and loudly – about the basic credibility of Erskine Childers’s premise in describing the imminent German threat.

We start the podcast, though, by plotting out the day for Carruthers, starting with an extended pub/gin bar crawl in Dornumerland, followed by an arduous cross-country walk to Hage, a fair deal of train travel in heavy disguise, and finally a bold act of sabotage on a galliot, and a confrontation with, of all people, the Kaiser.

We quickly descend into chaos when Lloyd notDavies becomes aerated by the presence of ‘lighters’ in Bensersiel harbour (05:43); a heated discussion of the canal vs ditch issue ensues (07:50); Club Member Ian provides useful information about riverine vessels of the period (10:18); Club Member Tony sides with notCarruthers (12:37).

Converted lifeboats being used for invasion at Gallipoli (not very successfully). This could have been Borkum… Image via

Lloyd notDavies then turns his attention to the viability (or not) of amphibious warfare and invasion by rowboat, using Gallipoli as his main case study (16:21). Tim notCarruthers changes the tone by referencing the Marx Brothers (23:04), and talking about the use of disguises in late Victorian literature. (24:44)

Finally, we address the pub crawl in Dornum and how to recreate it (or not) in modern times (30:03); a connection is made back to the Marx Brothers (34:03), and the true story of Groucho’s one visit to Dornum is revealed (36:14). As if the tone couldn’t get any lower, we then discuss the 1970s sex comedy The EastFriesland Report (39:07), filmed on location in exactly the same places that Carruthers visits on October 25.

A typical bar in Dornumerland (as portrayed in the 1970s sex comedy The East Friesland Report)

Club Business (45:14) – Adrian on why submarines were considered to be underhand and ‘unEnglish’ (45.26); Brian & John correct us on what a submarine engineer actually is (46:31); the status of marine engineers generally in 1903 (47:25); we find a real-life German diving/wreck engineer – living in Lambeth (48:39); Nick on TS Eliot and Baedecker (51:20); Ian on ejaculation(52:27); Ben and Fiona support us on Unbound (52:54); Peter finds us a Munich beer house in London (53:24).

Missions for next week – members assistance required.

‘Better to dodge in behind Rottum Island’ – Really? Experienced sailors please tell us – should we be going outside or inside Rottum? Please share your knowledge of Rottum generally.

‘He must have slipped over quietly’ – share your tales of going overboard, how to cope with it, how to survive, the basic dos and don’ts of falling in the water.

‘we anchored off the little hamlet of Ostmahorn’ – is it possible to sail directly to Ostmahorn these days? And why Ostmahorn?

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