Confession: Crownline skipper gets himself in a Malta muddle

In this month’s Confession, we hear how a routine trip to a fuel pontoon caused repercussions for one Crownline owner

It was a typically hot and sunny day when we landed in Malta, and as soon as I could I dashed along to see my boat Kismet, a Crownline 250, to get her ready for a fortnight of cruising around the island.

I started the engines, checked the bilge pumps, filled the water tank and ensured the safety equipment was in order. I then headed to the fuel pontoon to brim the tank.

Heading back to my berth I attempted to moor stern-to (never my favourite task). The manoeuvre didn’t go well on my first attempt but I noticed that the trim tabs were down, which gave me a flimsy yet important reason as to why the boat did not do as I had clearly asked.

So I raised the tabs and aligned the boat and sure enough we slipped in perfectly. However, my excitement at beating the system meant that I came into the berth a little too fast.

The starboard Z-drive bumped the pontoon but there was no obvious damage and I left the boat ready for our trip out the following day.

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The next morning my wife and I and a couple of friends loaded the boat with provisions for the day and I started the engines. They fired first time and purred perfectly.

Slowly I used the port engine to ease out of the berth. Once out, I put the engine into neutral and gently nudged the starboard engine to adjust my alignment.

At that moment I thought I was having a dizzy spell, as the world began moving in the wrong direction. The boat was turning to the right and moving in reverse.

It was all happening so quickly and panic began to set in. I nudged the starboard gear lever a bit more, but the boat kept turning the wrong way.

I put the lever into neutral but Kismet‘s momentum was so great that any second she was going to crash into the brand new Sunseeker berthed opposite.

Using all available fenders and screaming at the top of my voice for all hands on deck, Kismet stopped inches from the Sunseeker. Disaster averted.

Quite a few people had gathered to see what the commotion was all about and many of them came to the rescue and with warps and hitches, and with their help we managed to get Kismet back into her berth. I had no idea what had happened and after I calmed down I called my mechanic.

Within a short while he was on the scene and promptly made the diagnosis on opening the Z-drive casing. The jolt I had given the boat the day before had dislodged the gearing mechanism, resulting in the guide wire working in the opposite direction on the starboard side.

Less than an hour later it was fixed and my mechanic assured me that all was well and I should continue with my plans.

It took a while before I gathered enough courage to take Kismet out, but with the help of my crew we slipped our lines once more. We headed for a sheltered bay and had a great day sunbathing, eating and drinking.

As the sun was setting we decided to head back to the mooring but as I approached my berth my anxiety reappeared – my palms moistened and my heart rate leapt but thankfully all went well and I berthed Kismet perfectly.

We said goodbye to our friends and started to tidy up. I collected a bag of rubbish and asked my wife if she could make a ‘rubbish run’ while I cleared the galley below.

She agreed, took the rubbish and left. By the time the second bag of rubbish was ready I called out to my wife to see if she could repeat the journey but there was no response.

I went back up on deck and to my astonishment all I could see was the passarelle, two flip flops and lots of rubbish floating nearby. Seconds later my wife appeared on the pontoon, totally drenched.

Suddenly I realized that I had been so preoccupied with berthing correctly, that I had forgotten to secure the passarelle to the boat (my designated job). So when my wife walked on it, it must have flipped, causing her to fall in.

Luckily she wasn’t hurt. However, the same people who had witnessed our earlier berthing problem were now enjoying their evening meal aboard their boats. Once again they came to the rescue and even helped us pick up the rubbish that had fallen in the sea.

At the time we were mortified but now we can see the funny side. However, I think we should rename our boat because Kismet stands for a feeling of contentment and serenity!

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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