In this month’s Confession, we hear how one motorboater’s first voyage on his new Sea Ray Sundancer was one to remember
I had just imported my 2001 Sea Ray Sundancer ‘The Maestro’ from the USA and secured a mooring on the Isle of Kerrera, on the west coast of Scotland, near Oban.
I wanted to take her to sea as soon as possible, so invited my best friend and his wife for its maiden voyage. So it was that one Friday, I made my way to Oban and prepared for their visit.
As a grey import, it soon became clear to me that the existing electronics were not UK compatible, so I had no radio, radar or chartplotter.
Seeing as we only planned for a short trip down the Sound of Kerrera and back, I thought that not much could go wrong. In any case, I had bought some good quality lifejackets and some lovely blue 18mm mooring lines.
I should mention, at this point, that I had no experience in boating, but that my father had been a Chief Petty Officer in Her Majesty’s Navy some 50 years ago. I assumed, therefore, that seafaring would run in the blood. I mean, it wasn’t rocket science was it?
My friends, Wardie and Jackie duly boarded on the Saturday, with the traditional bottles of champagne to ‘wet the baby’s head’. We prepared to cast off.
I started the twin V8 7.8-litre MerCruiser engines and slipped the new 18mm mooring line astern, while Wardie slipped the port and starboard bow lines. I pulled back on the throttle controls and slipped out of the mooring.
So far, so good. My friends opened the champagne with a satisfying pop, and made themselves comfortable. I stuck to my principle of not drinking and driving, and informed them I would celebrate with a glass on our return to the moorings.
Having turned ‘The Maestro’ in the direction of the Sound, grins spread across our faces as I carefully opened the throttles to reach planing speed. What power!
Our happy expressions were short-lived though and (following a loud clunking sound) soon turned to a grimace, and in my case, a degree of fear and anxiety.
I slowed down and engaged neutral on both engines. The degree of panic rose sharply as I spotted
a good 8ft of blue trailing rope, which looked uncannily similar to mine, off the stern.
It became clear that we had failed to remove the mooring rope from the port- bow cleat, and it had wrapped itself around the port propeller. Now, it was stuck fast between propeller and cleat.
My friends didn’t quite appreciate the predicament as I did, and duly immersed themselves in yet another beverage. Meanwhile, Wardie kept watch on the closing shore and cardinals while I coaxed the boat on the remaining engine back to the marina.
Then, more panic set in – the surplus 8ft of trailing rope fouled the second (and last) available propeller. We were stranded. Again, this didn’t seem to bother my two guests who were succeeding in their intent to enjoy themselves!
With some gentle coaxing of both forward and reverse gears, we managed with the incoming tide to edge toward the direction of the marina.
Luckily, marina ferry ‘The Dirk’ was heading back to the island with its passengers from the mainland, and following some embarrassing arm signals, we caught the skipper’s attention and he headed toward us.
After tying up alongside, they deposited us at the nearest berth. With my heart still pounding and the boat safely moored, it was time to calm my nerves with a big glass of some that much-awaited champagne, only to discover the bottles was empty.
Well, at least two people had been having a great time!
Wardie made the statement, “Some day we will look back on this and laugh”. Needless to say, ‘The Maestro’ is now fully equipped, and the skipper is fully trained. Others out there will surely agree, when I say I know it sounds amusing, but it wasn’t at the time!
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: