In this month’s Confession, the owner’s first trip out on her dream jet boat turned into a nightmare
As my 40th birthday drew closer, my concern grew as to what present I would get. You may wonder why I felt anxiety and not excitement. Well, my husband does not have a great track record when it comes to gifts.
One Christmas he gave me a pink remote-control model hang-glider. The model got stuck in a
tree and to rescue it I had to cross a small river, but in doing so I fell in.
I had to tread the freezing-cold water, with a strong undercurrent, until my husband rescued me.
What could this present be? As my husband pulled off the cloth, I gasped.
A bright banana-yellow Sea-Doo Sportster gleamed at me – much better than that hang glider! A smile was plastered across my face – until we attempted to get it into the garage. We needed to push the boat between two bungalows and down our shared drive.
I held my breath and sucked in for the boat. We eventually did it, with millimetres to spare and with the help of some garden pipe used as guide rails.
After that we thought everything would be plain sailing. The following Saturday morning we drove to the Thames with the Sportster in tow, raring to go.
With the help of my 15- and 16-year-old daughters we launched my jetboat and roared across the waves. It was amazing. I was beyond ecstatic.
Then the boat spluttered and began to lose power before stopping completely right in the middle
of the river, in front of the Millennium Dome, with a massive Thames Clipper commuter boat heading straight for us at 25 knots.
The engine had overheated and, with the violent tide, the oars were not getting us anywhere. Just as we thought this could not possibly get worse, the boat began filling up with water from the wash of the Clipper, which had just managed to avoid us.
Jug-less, we had to take off our shoes, sink our stockinged feet into the pool of water beneath us and use our shoes to get the water out.
In panic, we called for a rescue boat. Luckily various other speedy Clippers managed to swerve around us and the rescue boat came quickly. As it happened, the rescuers arrived just as our boat cooled down and started working again, so we thanked them and sent them away.
Plodding back to the harbour carefully, with its crew traumatised and soggy-socked, our problematic boat overheated again. We had to tie it to another boat and wait for it to cool down.
Finally we arrived back at the slipway, pulled the boat out of the Thames and watched as the rest of the water poured out of the drain holes.
At this point, as I am sure you can imagine, I was on the verge of getting a sledgehammer and smashing it up. By this time we had quite a crowd around us and they were saying what a lovely boat she was – I contemplated asking if anyone wanted to buy her.
Later we found a large stone, a blue plastic bag and a piece of old rope tangled in the propeller intake. My husband wondered whether it was situations such as this that gave rise to the expression “worse things happen at sea”.
Having said all that, after removing the debris from the propeller and learning from my experience, I took my beautiful bright yellow boat out the next day and she went like a dream. Now I wouldn’t part with her for the world.
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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