Confession: Windermere embarrassment down by the jetty

In this month’s Confession one tyro risks losing life and limb, not to mention the small matter of his dignity, by using an old outboard

The wife and I first started boating in the 1980s on Windermere, somewhat diffidently, using a friend’s 24ft motorcruiser with a failed engine.

Bobbing about on a swinging mooring with no power, and water. On the plus side we had great views and fabulous times – the good old days, eh.

The only way to get ashore for supplies etc was via a small inflatable with a less than reliable antique Seagull outboard.

So imagine the scene as I left my future wife on board and motored away from the mooring for about a mile to Bowness Bay on a sunny Sunday afternoon to top up my large water container at the standpipe.

As I arrived at the public jetties there were a gathering of bikers sat around in the sunshine watching life go by. They spotted me coming ashore and soon started poking fun at my attire; captain’s hat, silly shorts etc. (well, I was much younger then, new to boating and it was the 1980s).

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I filled my water container, which by now was very heavy, and dropped it into the dinghy some 3ft below the jetty. As a result the little dinghy bounced into the air and almost catapulted all my boaty bits and bobs into the lake.

By now, I am the centre of attention and to the sarcastic hum of life on the ocean waves, I tried to pull start the old Seagull back to life, but despite numerous tries and much laughter from the now over-excited audience, no joy.

It was becoming a bit embarrassing; I therefore wound the throttle onto full chat and with a big tug on the pull start rope the Seagull finally burst into life, but with a big cloud of smoke from the by now, over-fuelled old engine.

Now, as many readers might know, these Seagulls were a direct-drive set-up. Therefore, my dinghy shot forward out of control between the jetties and out into the bay, throwing me sternwards over the engine with my legs flailing in the wind.

As my water container had also shot backwards along with everything else on board, my bow was now high in the air as I raced out into deeper water.

Luckily, I somehow managed to grab a hold of the transom engine fittings and stay on board, to a rapturous cheer from my “biker fans” on the shore.

Only to run straight out into the bay and towards the looming bows and path of a rather large ‘Teal’ pleasure cruiser, packed with day trippers.

I somehow managed to gather the situation and steer clear of the Teal’s bows to avoid a collision, but the shocked look of the day trippers hanging over the side to watch the action and the angry and confused look on the captain’s face I will never forget.

I could still hear the bikers’ laughter as I sheepishly trundled away into the distance and made my way back to the tranquillity of the mooring. To add insult to injury, I ran out of fuel on the return trip and had to row the last few hundred yards.

Somehow this didn’t put us off boating and some 30 years later, we now have our own motorcruiser on the same lake and often enjoy watching others “learning the ropes”.

I’ve also bought a motorbike…

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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