Confession: Lovelorn teen gets a ribbing after mooring blunder

In this month’s Confession, we hear how a love affair with water and girls left one boater hanging

My fascination with the coast, and the sea in particular, stems from our family caravan holidays to Devon and Cornwall when I was just a boy in the 1970s.

I can remember vividly the day my dad bought a beaten-up old Avon former Royal Marine RIB. It had an antique 10hp Mercury outboard and from the first time he took me out in it, I was hooked.

We spent many a time fishing for mackerel to put on the barbecue and had great fun messing about on the River Teign and regularly took her out to sea, past the Ness, between Shaldon and Teignmouth, opening her up in clear water to skip across the waves.

When I got to 16, my dad relented to my constant haranguing and said that I could take the RIB out in the river on my own, as long as I stayed within viewing distance in case there were any mishaps.

Well, I was one happy skipper. I twisted the throttle and pushed her up to 20 knots over the wash, but suddenly there was a loud gurgle and the boat slowed down.

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I looked around in dismay to see the outboard disappearing beneath the water, bubbling and hissing as she went. The engine clamps had worked their way loose and I had forgotten to tie the outboard’s safety rope to the boat.

Out came the oars and I rowed back to the bank, where all my friends and family were, with
a very red-faced and angry father.

Dad and his friend went back to the river at low tide in search of the engine and miraculously, found the cold, wet and, by now, probably useless piece of old engine lying in the mud. I don’t how they achieved it, but somehow they managed to get it working again.

The following year I was like the admiral of the fleet however. I was a year older, the sea was my oyster, and now I had a girlfriend.

One weekend, I had suavely decided to take her upriver on the RIB to a little market town called Newton Abbott for lunch and tied up to the seawall when we arrived.

We hopped off the RIB and made our way into the heart of the town towards the shops and restaurants, holding hands in the sunshine.

Time flies when you are happy and in love, and after a very pleasurable lunch and a walk around the pretty little town, we headed back. As we approached to where I had left the RIB, a large crowd had gathered and were looking over the seawall pointing and laughing.

We soon found out the object of their hilarity. In my carefree smugness, I had completely forgotten about the tide, and the RIB was hanging from the seawall by the bow and stern lines, dangling flat against the wall above the muddy river bed .

At that moment, if there had been water in the river, I would have thrown myself in. My sea cred was in tatters and I could feel it ebbing away, along with my confident, youthful swagger.

Since then, I’ve graduated up through some bigger RIBS to a beautiful 24ft Maxum on which
I now take my own family boating.

I have long since taken the relevant RYA courses, and have promised my wife that before I finally let my two boys loose with the boat on their own, I will enrol them on a powerboat course, so they won’t learn the hard way like their dad.

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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