The band was ready, the champagne was on hand, Time Team's Tony Robinson was there to record the historic event, and the crowds gathered to watch as a half-size replica of Dover's Bronze Age boat prepared to take to the water.
The only problem was, it started to sink.
A team of craftsmen and archaeologists had been working for several months to build the replica boat, using the same tools and the same methods as their ancestors would have used when the original boat was built more than 3,500 years earlier.
But time was against them,. They only completed the task a couple of hours before the launch was due to take place and there was no time to test it.
A team of rowers, complete with life-jackets, were waiting to go on board, but they were not needed.