Born Again Boater: Launch day in Darthaven

The Born Again Boater faces L-day – it's time for Nick's dream machine to hit the water to see if it floats!

As a huge fan of the eighties hit TV show, my boat name theme is Miami Vice. My last boat, a Monterey 218LSC was called Mi Vice II (also slight play on words – my vice too? No? Oh never mind…) sign-written in teal in the same ‘Broadway’ typeface used by the series.

This time the name is Smuggler’s Blues, the title of the Miami Vice episode on which the 2006 Miami Vice movie was based (and of the song that Glenn Fry wrote for the series).

The new name is revealedDarthaven have done me proud with the signwriting, accurately replicating the style of the Miami Vice logo in my chosen appropriately pastel shades of violet and teal.

I even had the shading done in Cobalt Blue which precisely colour matches the new style Skibsplast logos for the sides of the boat, replacing the rather dated looking maroon and grey originals.

The boat looks great but the gestation between the neglected, sorry looking craft that had arrived and the freshly gleaming example stood on the quay awaiting Darthaven’s travel lift had taken twice as long as I’d hoped and (perhaps predictably) been harder and more involved than I’d anticipated.

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A Darthaven employee sizes up the jobEven as I stand watching the giant machine pick it up like a toy and lower it gently toward the water I wonder whether I’ve done the right thing. Should I have just bought a tidy Fletcher speedboat and gone boating with none of the hassle or expense?

Nervously I watch the keel touch the water, then the chines and then the strops going slack. It floats! Good start.

Darthaven’s operatives guide it out of the dock and tie it against the pontoon where I’m stood like an expectant father.

I dive aboard, lifting the floor and the engine hatch, checking for any water ingress. All is dry. Phew! The hoist and staff retreat and it’s just me and my new boat, bobbing gently in the warm sunshine.

Smuggler's Blues prepares to rideA Darthaven engineer is coming out for a sea trial to check their mechanical work, I’m to give them a shout when I’m ready but right now I’m alone.

Maybe I’ll just fuel up first. I drop the hatches and twist the key, the Volvo Penta TAMD 22P firing instantly.

Donning one of my Crewsaver lifejackets I slip the lines, drop the motor into reverse and back away from the dock before winding on some lock, nudging into ahead and spinning the helm the other way, pirouetting the boat on the spot before heading past the marina and up river.

Suddenly everything just falls into place. The little Skibby, my little Skibby feels fantastic, moving softly beneath me like a living breathing creature. I have done the right thing, I’ve absolutely done the right thing!

Fuelled up, boat tested (all good, just a slight adjustment to tickover needed) and I’m heading out of the Dart in convoy with my father aboard his Seaward 23, along for photos, a lift back and, well, just in case.

Nick gets to grips with the handling

Clear of the river I gently build the revs, new tacho climbing along with the speed on my handheld GPS (broken log paddle wheel being still on the ‘to do’ list). It will rev to 4,500 but 3,800 seems to be the sweet spot.

With the leg trimmed just so Smuggler’s Blues canters across the surface at 20 knots positively fizzing with effervescence.

It feels elated to be alive and overjoyed to be out at sea again. If it had a face, I know it would have a grin as wide as mine.

To read the rest of Born Again Boater, head over here.


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