Margaret Thatcher at the helm …
The Captain of the Tory party who took over from Mr. Edward Heath … . yesterday rivalled the international yachtsman in ruling the waves.
Mrs. Margaret Thatcher handled the Channel pilot boat Lodesman with an expertise that even Mr. Heath would have admired.
For ten minutes, at 11 knots, she held the pilot boat steady in the choppy waters of Folkestone Harbour.
The Conservative leader was visiting the town's Trinity House pilot station in a breathless, whistle-stop tour.
She left Battersea by helicopter, landed five miles outside the town, travelled by car to the station, made the boat trip and a 40-mile dash to tour the power station at Dungerness, and then hastened back to London.
Mrs. Thatcher said: “It is a way to pay tribute to Trinity House.
“We tend to take for granted the lighthousemen, lifeboatmen and pilots who make the sea safer for us. I wanted to see for myself how the organisation worked.”
During the trip, the Lodesman went alongside the 44,000-ton cargo ship Australian Venture, and the pilot, Mr. Robert Eiley, went aboard to guide her into Tilbury.
Mrs. Thatcher showed no signs of seasickness and described herself as “normally a good sailor.”
One of the station's 81 pilots said: “It was a bit blowy and choppy but she did very well. She gets a much rougher passage in the House of Commons.”