Confession: Aquastar adventure leads to American embarrassment

In this month’s Confession, we hear how a choppy cruise on an Aquastar crushed Anglo-American relations

After many a convivial visit to neighbouring motorboats in Weymouth Marina and much deliberation, we decided to make the change from sail to power.

Now in our sixties, we wanted a holiday home on the water and all the joys of boating without too much effort.

Eventually we found a pre-owned Aquastar Ocean Ranger 45, a seaworthy, safe and very solid boat (very important to ex-yachties). We enjoyed the prospect of summer excursions and long lunches on board with friends.

So when, just a week after taking delivery, our son Paul emailed us to say that he would be bringing his American girlfriend on his annual visit from Denver, Colorado, we immediately planned a day out on our new boat.

Paul and Rachel arrived and it was soon pretty clear that this beautiful, tall and dark-eyed girl wasn’t enjoying her first visit to Europe much.

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They say the UK and the US are two cultures separated by a common language and if you mix a culture shock with plenty of jet lag, you’re not going to be very happy, are you? Never mind, a day out on our new boat would soon put things right.

A delicious lunch was prepared and stored in the galley fridge, drinks were loaded in the chest fridge and snacks kept cool in the flybridge fridge. Although the forecast included winds up to Force 4 in the afternoon, we weren’t concerned, as we could cope with most challenging conditions with ease.

We felt much less dependent on the direction of wind and tide than in our yacht. When Paul offered to secure the 25-litre drum of engine oil sitting on the aft deck, no one thought it would be necessary and the suggestion was ignored.

The sunny cruise from Weymouth to Lulworth was idyllic. We sat on the flybridge, watching the dramatic coastline evolve and soon we were through the spectacular narrow entrance to Lulworth Cove and at anchor.

Paul and Rachel took the dinghy ashore after lunch while we dozed in the sunshine, but by the time they returned, blue skies had turned grey and the wind was getting up.

We crashed out of the cove into a south westerly of some significance and soon de-camped from the flybridge into the saloon.

Furious-looking white horses were everywhere and the rolling of the boat caused the oil drum to start sliding from side to side on the aft deck, crashing into the guardrails each time. Paul was up in a second to make it fast, but tensions were rising among the crew.

Only one of the three windscreen wipers was operating. This reduced forward vision and gave the impression that we were going home inside a washing machine, with gallons of water swirling everywhere.

The howling wind, labouring engines and incessant banging of loose stuff inside the lockers caused noise levels to rise.

The lovely Rachel had gone very quiet and turned pale. Suddenly she dashed for the aft heads and returned with one hand over her right eye and a rather steely look in the other, having banged her head on the ‘faucet’ while throwing up in the basin.

On reflection, Paul could have been more solicitous, but he was feeling nauseous as well, poor boy.

Later, in the calm of Weymouth Marina, we found out that the wind had actually risen to a Force 6 that afternoon, and that wind was very much against tide. We also discovered that all the wipers worked perfectly well.

There was just a separate switch provided for each one! Poor Rachel, now nursing a livid black eye, probably thought that we were all completely mad.

As we disembarked, I turned to her and proclaimed, “Well, that was fun wasn’t it?” She didn’t respond.

Needless to say, we never saw her again but if you ever read this, Rachel, we really are very sorry.

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.

For your chance to win, spill the beans on your funniest boating moments in 650 words. Email your story to:


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