Confession: Shetland owner’s struggles on dry land

In this month’s Confession, we hear how one Shetland owner’s introduction to boating nearly put him off before he could even get it in the water

After my family and I relocated to the Isle of Man just over two years ago, it seemed a shame not to join in the fun of boatownership.

So after taking advice from several work colleagues who had already taken the plunge, we decided on a small motorboat to begin with.

Scanning the small ads for several weeks led us to a Shetland 535, within price range and well looked after. It seemed just the right size and well equipped enough to enjoy straight away.

It came with a trailer and was already out of the water for the winter, enabling us to carry out some checks and minor cosmetic work prior to our first trip out.

Although we kept the boat 10 miles from home, we regularly visited it for the first two months, always polishing, cleaning and carrying out little jobs to improve the boat and make it ours.

One evening, after a friend had travelled across to the IoM to see us, we decided to show him the new addition to the family. We pulled up to the dry berth and were alarmed to find it was empty. No boat and no trailer.

“It’s been stolen, call the police!” cried my wife. Luckily I decided to visit the previous owner first who lived nearby and had used the berth before our purchase.

He said he had moved the boat to another site as the boat park was being resurfaced that weekend and all boats remaining would be towed to the government garages, where a fee would be payable for release of any boats or vehicles.

As he had lost our phone number he had no way of contacting us and moved it hoping we would call him.

Although we did get our boat back, we were a little suspicious, so arranged to move it to another location. Luckily, on the island nowhere is far away.

We moved the boat the next day but it was only when we looked over it properly that we realised some lights, a spare battery and lifejackets were missing.

The previous owner was contacted again but he denied any knowledge. We decided to put that one down to experience and buy new items, keeping them at home until needed.

Again, each week we visited over the winter to ensure the boat was safe and that it would be ready for the upcoming summer.

After only three weeks in the new place, we arrived to find the fishfinder and the VHF radio missing. Not again. We called the police, who I would like to say sounded extremely concerned and came to examine the boat immediately.

Sadly, that was not the case. After three phone calls they admitted they were going to do nothing and advised me to put up posters and ring the various suppliers on the island, in case the thief tried to sell on the goods. They have never turned up.

“Let’s take the boat home and put it on the drive,” I said to my wife, thinking this would be our safest bet, so we checked the tyre pressures, secured all items and headed for home.

Five miles into the journey, a rumbling started to come from the trailer. I duly stopped and got out to check all around.

Everything seemed secure so we continued on our way, but the noise became gradually worse. Half a mile from home, I glanced in the wing mirror to see the offside wheel spinning at a rather alarming angle.

Once again stopping to examine the trailer, I found the axle had snapped and the wheel was inches away from leaving the rig all together. We managed to manhandle the villainous vessel onto the driveway and promptly ignored it for several weeks.

The boat and I are now on speaking terms again and she should be in the water soon. However, with the luck we have experienced so far, I thought it only fair to warn everyone…

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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