Confession: Sea Ray rookies run aground off Yarmouth

In this month’s Confession, we hear how one Sea Ray owner learnt the importance of training novice crew

The forecast was looking good for the weekend, so I made a quick call to two friends and a plan was arranged. We drove down to Chichester marina on the Friday night, stopping en route for the mandatory fish and chips.

All was set for an early morning departure in my Sea Ray Sundancer, Ocean Blue, with Yarmouth our chosen weekend destination.

Saturday morning duly arrived and the first port of call was to be the marina fuel pontoon. It was a little breezy, so accurate and quick docking was required.

As I pulled up alongside, I started handing out instructions to my novice crew. “Tony, please grab a line, hop off when close enough to do so and tie us up.” Remarkably, all went to plan.

I came alongside the pontoon with uncharacteristic accuracy, Tony hopped off, I shut the engines down, and all seemed to be going to plan.

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Well, that was until I looked up and noticed we were a good 10 feet from the pontoon. I quickly looked to Tony to see where we had gone wrong.

He was stood there, looking completely lost with a line under his arm, tying it to the pontoon. “Tony, you were supposed to attach the line to the boat before you got off!” Apparently, I had not explained the procedure clearly enough.

Slightly wounded, and no longer willing to help, Tony skulked forward. The remainder of the outward trip was left to me and second mate, Barry.

We arrived at Yarmouth and spent a great day just messing around, ending up with a shindig at the infamous Salty’s and heading to bed in the early hours.

On Sunday morning we set off with a slightly more cooperative Tony but I had a sore head from the night, so I left Barry in charge.

“Right Barry, that’s the plotter, avoid the green bits, follow the track and we’ll be back in an hour. I’m off to sleep off my hangover.”

It was a glorious day, hot uninterrupted sunshine, flat seas and a lovely cooling breeze. I was just falling into a most welcome slumber when we came to a sudden halt.

I rushed down to the helm, interrogated the plotter, to find the boat had tracked straight across the previously mentioned green bits. We had hit ground, were stuck and the tide was falling!
“What bit of ‘don’t go near the green bits’ did you not understand?”

Barry retorted: “Well, I had my eye on the depth sounder and it said we were in 3m of water so I thought it was OK!”

I was about to explain that while there might have been 3m in the area directly beneath the transponder, there definitely wasn’t below the legs, but decided to delay the explanation.

I sprung to action: “Barry, unhook the tender, attach a line to the boat and try and pull us off the bank.” He dutifully carried out my orders.

In the meantime, I fired up the port engine, and with the one intact leg and propeller I had left on my boat, I used full throttle in an attempt to dislodge us from our perch before the tide lowered further.

However, once again on board communications let us down. Barry, in the tender with a 3hp motor, was pulling in one direction, while I, in my 30ft Sea Ray, was pulling flat out in the other.

It was a tug of war only one could win. A minute passed before I won the day, the Sea Ray shooting off at an alarming pace.

A few seconds later, and 50ft from our perch of doom, I started to relax. Until, that is, I heard Barry shouting “I’m going down!”

Now I’m not sure if anyone has ever towed a tender backwards at speed, but if so, you too will have found out that the back of the dinghy tends to dig in, causing the boat to dive down towards the sea bed at an alarming rate.

By the time I’d turned round to see what Barry was complaining about, all that was visible above the water was his head!

Thankfully, three years later, with the physiological damage repaired, we are still the best of friends and regularly enjoy messing about on the water – only these days I leave Tony to read the paper and Barry to make the tea.

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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