Editors Letter May 2001

Last weekend I made a pig’s ear of coming into my berth at Chichester Marina...

Last weekend I made a pig?s ear of coming into my berth at Chichester Marina. I was going in backwards, as I always do, and while over-compensating for a slight crosswind got it a bit wrong trying to achieve that subtle combination of forward, reverse and full lock so familiar to single-engined boat-handlers. My wife had to pole us off the corner of the pontoon. I went out again and got us safely in second time lucky, pride slightly dented.

A policeman met us on the pontoon. ?Have you been drinking, sir?? As well as my wife and two small children I had friends on board with their three youngsters, all lifejacketed up to their chins, and we?d been to the beach for sandcastles and a barbecue. Before setting off that morning I had briefed everyone carefully on the procedure for going through the lock, shown the grown-ups the fire extinguishers and flares, and run through the safety drill in case anything went wrong.

I looked the policeman in the eye and tried to judge whether he had been instructed at training school in the gentle art of irony. Probably not. But I couldn?t help myself.
?Of course I have, officer,? I replied. ?I?ve been lying on the beach all afternoon downing Special Brew and vodka chasers. Forgive me for sitting down, if I stand up I fall over. Could you count the children for me? I think we lost a couple overboard. Is there a problem??

Of course there isn?t. But this ridiculous scenario (obviously, I never manage to berth the boat after only two attempts) could result from new legislation under the Government?s proposed Safety Bill (see p10), which is a classic example of a solution in search of a problem. No doubt people who go boating drunk, endangering themselves and the rest of us, deserve to be locked up. But I honestly don?t know anyone who does. Do you?

Alan Harper, Editor