I recently started reading a book with the self explanatory title, ‘Great Australian Flying Doctor Stories’, by well known writer and performer, Bill’ Swampy’ Marsh and it brought to mind the many boating incidents I have witnessed and heard of over the years. Anyone who has been boating for a while has made their share of mistakes, me included, so here are a few of the more entertaining ones.
Many of these blunders involve boat launching, which inevitably makes them all the more embarrassing, as there will likely be others around to see it. A few years ago a beautifully finished nine metre timber hulled vessel was launched at Gantheaume Beach, Broome and it was later revealed it was the tender to a well known businessman’s 100 ft plus deluxe mother ship, with guests waiting to be brought to shore at the time. Only problem was the crew dumped the heavy timber boat off the trailer, on an outgoing tide, with not enough water underneath. Very quickly it became high and dry and impossible to winch the boat back on the trailer dry. You couldn’t help feel sorry for the crew with hundreds of tourists gawking at them, taking photos and asking inane questions. As the tide receded further, it looked all the more incongruous and finally, after one tractor failed, another larger one was dispatched to lift the vessel up and drop it back into the ocean, to the applause of the beachgoers.
Another more dramatic incident occurred when a guy left his female partner to hold their 28ft vessel at the Old Dunsborough boat ramp, while he went for the F250 to reverse the boat trailer down. Of course, being a Sunday, there were numerous spectators sitting on the grassy patch watching and all seemed OK as the boat was winched onto the trailer. Only problem was, back in those days, on low tide, there was a big step at the end of the concrete ramp and the guy’s boat trailer wheels had dropped over the step. When the F250 could not pull the trailer up, he did what any person with that much power behind them would do, he reversed back a few metres and then gave it to it in forward. The boat and trailer certainly went forward, but the tandem axle and wheels were left behind. Apparently he then drove, or rather dragged the boat up the ramp, disengaged the trailer, assisted his wife into the vehicle and drove off into the sunset. Sometime later a crane and semi trailer arrived to collect the remains.
But of course the final embarrassment would be if you not only launch your boat, but your vehicle as well. I must admit to coming close one day when the old landcruiser handbrake was a bit dodgy. The guy I saw at the Bunbury Powerboat Club was not so lucky and others have told me they have seen this happen at both Gnarabup and Hamelin Bay boat ramps. Always better to keep someone in the vehicle if you can, but not always possible, especially if launching on your own. The guy at the powerboat club was rushed by others to launch his boat because he had parked on the ramp and then started preparing his vessel. It took a semi trailer to pull it all out, again with many onlookers!
To answer last week’s question, a Category 3 triple road train can have a maximum length of 53.5 metres. This week’s question is, “Who skippered the ill fated ‘Exide Challenger’ and was famously rescued in the southern ocean in 1997?”
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