Confession: Thames mooring disaster leads to wasp swarm

In this month’s Confession, we hear how a relaxed evening moored up on the Thames ended with a sharp sting for one couple

The story I’m about to relate happened 15 years ago on the Thames when we were new to boating with our Fairline Mirage aft cabin.

It was a sunny Friday evening and our plan was to moor up and have an early family meal. The plan started well when we found a stretch of river bank at Boveney without a boat in sight, which was most unusual.

Shortly afterwards another boat then moored in front of us and we noticed that the crew of this boat were behaving very oddly on the bank while allowing their boat to drift out into the river.

We tried to ignore but after further cries and screeches we suddenly realised why they were behaving oddly and why there were so few boats moored on this stretch of the river.

On arrival our nextdoor neighbours, Bill and Vera, had hammered a peg through a wasp nest on the bank. This resulted in a swarm of very angry wasps flying up Bill’s baggy shorts and taking revenge on his manhood.

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The wasps had not left poor Vera alone either and in going to their aid we found numerous wasps attacking both her and Bill. In no time at all Bill took evasive action by removing all of his clothes and jumping into the river, only to find that water is not a deterrent to revenging wasps.

We did our best to help by trying to remove the wasps from Vera’s hair by hitting her around the head with a wet towel. “We need antihistamine cream,” my wife shouted.

I raced back to our boat to our first aid kit to find a tube of cream only five years out of date! With the help of two cans of fly spray we finally managed to disperse the wasps.

Then trying to avoid taking in Bill’s nakedness and obvious soreness we managed to pull the boat back to the shore. After much concern and a few strategically placed towels Bill assured us that they were now OK and thanked us for our help.

Following such excitement we decided to call it a night and head home, but as we prepared the boat to leave we heard a cry for help. It wasn’t Bill and Vera’s night.

They had also decided to leave and had started their boat only for loose rope to get caught around their propeller stopping the engine and they were drifting towards the weir!

We returned to their aid. It was dark, Bill was numb from the waist down and so we decided not to attempt to free the engine but to tow the boat back to our marina.

In talking to Bill on our slow tow back we found out that this was the first day of their holiday. We laughed when he showed us the book that he had decided to read during his two weeks’ vacation
‘The Swarm’ and we chuckled again when I said that my previous boat was called ‘The Sting’.

Once back at the marina we were still worried about Bill and wanted to urge him to go to hospital. We went over to check on him only for my wife to be shocked again as he was lying naked across his cabin table with Vera removing stings from his nether region.

Vera said that Bill seemed OK and she was proud that she had already removed 46 stings!

The next day Bill and Vera came to our boat with a ‘thank you’ bottle of wine but we did notice that Bill was struggling to keep both legs on the pontoon.

I believe Bill and Vera continued on their holiday once the rope had been retrieved but I have never seen their boat on the Thames since. Once bitten twice shy perhaps?

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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