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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Motorised watercraft – the good, the bad and the stupid

As a ‘rag and stick’ man, the temptation is to scorn the ‘others’ who like to burn vast quantities of fuel in order to get from A to B, or often just out and back to A again. However, about half our neighbours on F pontoon are ‘stinkies’, and they are the half we find the most friendly, so it’s hard to maintain the prejudice.

Wandering down to the riverfront at Brightlingsea, Issie and Max are drawn into a large, smart new shed with about six gleaming sportsboats on their trailers. Uh-oh, keep the kids away from the dark side – but it’s too late and we follow them inside where we meet Alan, the owner of the dealership, and his family. Once again, what a friendly chap, even when it was clear that we were never going to be customers. His daughter and our kids got on so well that, the next morning, they came out in their boat to see us at our anchorage. The kids fished for crabs, they admired our floating cottage, we liked the look of the leather seats and the sleek lines of the Maxum sportsboat.

Alan runs Global Trade Partners, a business importing second-hand motor boats from the US and sorting out all the certification and import issues before selling them on. Yet again, any prejudices we still held about motor boat owners were rapidly being eroded. We even smiled when Issie asked for, and got, a ride in their boat. ‘It went fast, Daddy’ said a grinning little girl afterwards.

Whilst Issie was out on her ride, we were ‘buzzed’ by a jetski, the rider seemed to be using the anchored yachts as a slalom course. Not unusual, sadly, and he zipped off to screech through the bathing area off the beach with a ‘look how cool I am’ approach to his day. With a body like that, who are we to disagree.
Having attracted everyone’s attention, he failed to notice the 60 foot police launch coming over at full chat, huge bow wave, blue flashing lights, sirens, the works. ‘What, me guv?’ Seems like the boys in blue had a quiet word for about 15 minutes before he was released to go on his way, somewhat more slowly and doubtless appraised of the location of the nearby water ski and high speed area.

So that’s the good and the bad, but it was all capped by the stupid. Lying at anchor in Pyefleet creek, enjoying our coffee, a small motor boat approaches slowly, so we stand up to say hi. There are two chunky looking Essex chaps on board, and the driver calls over ‘Which way should we go, mate?’. We let Alan, our motorboat expert, handle this one. ‘For what?’ ‘Well, for a bit of food and a pint’. ‘Well, you can try Wivenhoe, it’s very nice, good pub up there’ ‘Just been there mate, got stuck on the bottom, like’. ‘Well, you should have plenty of depth, just stay between the buoys and you’ll be ok.’ ‘OK thanks mate. Er, which side of the buoys d’you mean?’. They’re driving around in a 10 grand boat and don’t even know what the channel markers mean.

It takes all sorts, we reflect, as we haul up the anchor and weave our way out of the river, stopping and diverting for all the various racing dinghies who all wave their thanks, which is nice. Once in open water we hoist full sail and have another splendid broad reach home, only turning the engine on as the wind faded just off Felixstowe. Three wonderful days of sunshine and fair winds, it just doesn’t get better than this. Posted by Picasa


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