In this month’s Confession we hear how a Bayliner owner’s new life down under proved to be a real drag
In early 2000 my wife and I emigrated to New Zealand. We bought a Bayliner 175 and joined our local boat club, which was situated on a disused air force base that was formally home to a squadron of Sunderland flying boats. As such, it had the widest and longest launching ramp I’d ever seen.
Early one morning we decided to have a spin around Auckland Harbour. My wife was still a little apprehensive about launching the boat, so I tried to make everything as foolproof as possible.
I selected four-wheel drive, reversed the boat down the ramp, then attached an extra-long painter line to the bow and secured it to the tow bar of the car.
My wife had her instructions: once I was in the boat and it was in the water, all she had to do was remove the painter line that was attached to the car, throw the line to me, and drive the car and trailer back up the ramp.
I powered the boat off the trailer and my wife duly threw the line to me, and it landed well short of the boat. I started to pull the line into the boat and by this time she had got back into the car.
As I pulled the painter it became trapped around a roller on the trailer. When I heard the car start, I shouted, “STOP!” Before I knew what was happening, the vehicle began to move up the ramp towing the trailer.
The painter line tightened and the boat, with me in it, was slowly pulled up the ramp, scraping the underside of the hull with an horrific squeal.
By the time my wife realised what was happening, she had managed to tow the trailer and the boat several yards clean out of the water – a great testament to the pulling power of a Suzuki Grand Vitara.
I jumped out of the boat in complete shock, staring in horror at this scene of apparent carnage. My boat had now tipped onto its side.
As I was trying to think of a way to extricate myself from this situation, a fellow club member
who was launching his small dinghy approached. I was about to thank him for what seemed like his offer of assistance, when he said, “You can’t leave that there, mate,” and walked off.
I shouted back at him, “Did you think I intended to put the @#&*? boat there on purpose?!”
The tide was rapidly receding and I anticipated the embarrassment of leaving the stricken boat there for all to see until the tide turned. Unbeknown to me, all of this had been witnessed by the crew of a Ukrainian sailing boat that was anchored adjacent to the ramp.
Much to my wife’s delight, a young, athletic crewman clad only in a small pair of boxer shorts dived perfectly into the water and swam to the ramp. He didn’t speak English, but with a bit of gesticulation he proceeded to help me winch the boat back onto the trailer.
After a lot of pushing and heaving, the boat was finally back on the trailer. I tried to remain calm because I knew that if I told my wife what I wanted to do, my boating days would be over.
I thanked the young Ukrainian man and he departed back into the water as quickly and perfectly
as he had arrived.
Having inspected the boat, I discovered it was relatively undamaged – there were just a few scratches and some chunks had been taken out of the keel. The first thing I did was drive to the local supermarket and buy two bottles of vodka, before returning back to the ramp.
I put the boat back into the water – this time without the painter attached – motored over to the sailing ship and delivered the vodka to a very happy crew.
The author of every confession we print wins the original Stephen Shaw cartoon artwork (above) and an Icom IC-M23 Buoyant VHF Marine Transceiver handheld VHF radio worth £165.
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