Confession: River cruise in cuddy boat leads to towing trouble

In this month’s Confession, we hear how a skipper’s wife got caught in a tight spot while getting towed along a Lincolnshire river

I was invited for Sunday lunch at a picturesque riverside inn situated in rural Lincolnshire. We were to arrive in style aboard my friend’s new 360hp sportscruiser.

About a mile or so from the pub on the Ancholme we spotted a small cuddy boat in trouble. The skipper had his head in the outboard while the woman we learnt was his wife beckoned for help. She looked far from happy and will henceforth be known as Mrs Blackthunder.

As Tony, my friend, manoeuvred his boat close to the stricken vessel, we noticed that Mrs Blackthunder had tried to get out of the hatch on the bow and appeared to be stuck.

As luck would have it she was in the ideal place to attach a towing bridle. Unfortunately she fastened it to a cleat that was off centre. Normally I would lend advice and assistance on the correct way to attach a line but Mrs Blackthunder was not very receptive to this.

The cuddy boat gently floated from the bank and dutifully followed us. But no sooner had Mrs Blackthunder almost broken into a smile, events took a turn for the worse.

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Tony was so pleased with his new boat and how powerful the engines were that he failed to notice the large may bush that was overhanging the riverbank.

Mrs Blackthunder, still wedged in the front hatch and trying desperately to untie the rope, had a look of horror on her face as she and the cuddy were pulled through the bush. It got worse.

As the cuddy followed us she snaked from side to side, gently at first at the speed limit of 4 knots; but I do not think I need to explain in detail the “slingshot effect” that we all learnt about in physics lessons, though only now do I appreciate its significance.

As the cuddy snaked three times the distance was covered, so the speed was three times as fast; furthermore, the cuddy hull speed had been exceeded and she was now on the plane, traversing like a pro water skier. The snakes got wider and wider and speed increased.

Tony, conscious that time was pushing on and that we might miss lunch, ploughed on. He was fixed on the river ahead and still spouting off about how much torque his engines had when the cuddy collided with the starboard bank, narrowly avoiding an angler.

Thankfully not much damage was done but the ricochet caused the cuddy to accelerate once more.

Mrs Blackthunder came out of shock and started to bellow “slow down”. Her wish was granted as the cuddy was dragged through more may bushes that lined the port side of the bank, only this time she went straight through the bow hatch at speed as the rope acted as a bungee cord.

The cuddy had a coot’s nest stuck on the bow and Mrs Blackthunder looked as if she had been dragged through a bush, if not backwards, definitely forwards – twice!

Fair play to the cuddy skipper, when he found us later that afternoon in the pub discussing the incident he very graciously bought us a gallon of cider named ‘Rat Catcher’.

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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