Confession: My nasty scrape underneath the arches

In this month’s Confession, we hear how achieved his dream of getting on the water but soon tunnels his way into trouble

I have always been fascinated by boats from an early age, and on holidays was often to be found perched precariously over the edge of harbour walls, watching anything that remotely resembled one.

However, I was faced with two major obstacles concerning my obsession. Firstly, living in Birmingham meant I was about as far away from the coast as you could get and, secondly, no-one in our entire family shared my interest in boats, let alone owned one.

As the years passed, growing family and work commitments meant I was never able to even consider the possibility of boating. Then, one day, I confessed to my wife this burning ambition.

After some negotiation, she agreed to the purchase of a small 16ft Seahog with a 40hp Evinrude outboard, which even had a small solar panel to keep the battery charged. Life was now complete.

Armed with a newly acquired Level 2 Powerboat certificate and radio licence, we hooked up my pride and joy and headed seawards.

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While life was as good as it could get for me as we raced across Swansea Bay, my wife was getting more and more concerned that all she could see was horizon.

As a compromise we eventually agreed that our little boat should spend its time on the river, and
a mooring at Upton-upon-Severn Marina was arranged. This solved the problem as she could now see both riverbanks.

A decision was soon made to get a bigger boat though, and a 24ft Fjord Attaché proved the answer and also the start of my problems.

This was much bigger than I had been used to and, with a big canopy that acted as a sail in the wind, my Level 2 Powerboat skills were sadly lacking when it came to close manoeuvring in the marina at Tewkesbury where we had a mooring.

With some trepidation, I took her out for our first proper trip. It was a beautiful day and the sun bathed the River Avon as I headed towards the King John’s Bridge, the lowest on the river and also set at an angle for good measure.

Just as I lined up with the middle arch I heard the horn of another boat, which I could not see, coming through.

Reversing back I held the boat, very professionally I thought, until the other craft had passed and then proceeded to negotiate this very low bridge. I now realise that I should have circled and re-established the right line, but it looked OK, so I carried on.

As we slowly entered the darkness, made worse by my decision to wear a pair of new nautical sunglasses, we heard a very, very loud grinding noise as the canopy made contact with the bridge.

A dilemma. Did I try and reverse out and start again? Or just put on the revs and hope no-one would notice?

I chose the latter, but did so unaware of the location on the other side of the bridge of a pub garden full of people, enjoying the good weather and trying to see who the idiot was coming through making all the noise.

I have since successfully navigated this obstacle many times, but I still have the invoice for the repairs as a reminder that lack of judgement can be expensive.

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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