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Messing about in boats

It’s a beautiful day out on Derwent Water. Three of us hire a small boat and head out on a voyage. (In the absence of any photographs, the attached mock-up will have to suffice.) About half an hour into our trip, when we are as far down the lake as it’s possible to go, I take the helm. About three minutes later—while, and I’d like to make this clear, we are adhering to the strict shore-proximity limits made very clear to us before we were allowed to board—our boat bangs into something. “What the hell was that?” says L, but I’m already steering hard to port to take us away from the, no doubt about it, rock that we have somehow ploughed into and, mercifully, escaped unscathed.

We are just at the stage where we have established that we weren’t at fault as there was no marker buoy and we are safe because there’s no water coming in, when there is a different sort of bang and suddenly the engine is revving like an angry hairdryer as we drift helplessly to a halt. Yes, we try turning it off and turning it on again. No dice. We can only move where the current takes us.

This is not an old-fashioned tale of endurance against the odds. It’s an entirely new-fashioned story of a man simply googling the number of the launch hire company on his mobile and ringing for help. Once L has done this, we can only sit and wait. It is, as we have already established, a beautiful day, and the time is passed with only the mildest of recriminations.

When we break down, we are firmly in the middle of the water, a respectable position to break down in. Half an hour later, however, we have drifted inexorably towards the treacherous shallows at the shoreline until we are no more than a humiliating 30 feet from the water’s edge and the road beyond. We call half-heartedly for help from passing tourists and drivers. They stare at us. We stop. “The bus goes from just over there,” says L thoughtfully. We contemplate the water and wonder if it would be worth the chill.

It turns out, when we have eventually been retrieved and towed back, that the gearbox at the bottom of the outboard motor has almost completely sheered off, clearly through fatigue and not as a result of contact with, say, any uncharted rocks. Technically we are due a refund but it’s clearly easier for the guy to offer us another round trip for free, which we take him up on the next day so we can take our friend A out as well.

This time we are determined to be prepared and have brought along Pimm’s and plastic glasses. Unfortunately the weather is a little different today; there’s a stiff breeze and the water is distinctly choppy. We cling determinedly to our Pimm’s as the boat repeatedly smacks down on every wave, cold spray flying over the bow and soaking us. “Are you having fun yet?” cries L, five minutes in. “Are we nearly there?” replies A plaintively.

But eventually the wind dies down and it’s another excellent day, despite our outrageous attempts to tempt fate by venturing back to the exact same area where we hit the rock. (This is deliberate; A is seeking evidence that it actually was a rock, as he reckons that it was probably a scuba diver. If forced to forage for an alternative explanation I would take a side bet on it having been a really big turtle, but that’s my limit.)

The moral of this story is: visit the Lake District. It’s eye-wateringly lovely. Also, just because a collision and a catastrophic engine failure may have happened to occur within twenty minutes of someone taking the wheel, that does not mean that that person is some kind of Jonah, and friends and friends’ wives need not make quite such a big deal of “putting their lives” in that person’s “hands” when that person takes the helm on future occasions.

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Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
chiller
Sep. 17th, 2007 01:04 pm (UTC)
It was one of those floating rocks. They're like tramps. They are attracted to certain people and you are thus blessed.
webofevil
Sep. 17th, 2007 01:08 pm (UTC)
Hmm. "Blessed" was one of the things I wasn't accused of being.
chiller
Sep. 17th, 2007 06:08 pm (UTC)
If it helps, "blesséd" was used as a swear-word when I was a kid. As in "I can't get the blesséd thing to work..."

Of course, now we'd say "fucking".
(Anonymous)
Sep. 17th, 2007 04:58 pm (UTC)
Tramps, medical reports and now rocks? What else do you attract?
chiller
Sep. 17th, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC)
You would've thought that tramps, medical records and floating rocks would be more than enough for ANY MAN.
(Anonymous)
Sep. 17th, 2007 11:08 pm (UTC)
the wife speaks
my side of the story:

we distinctly hit something. an extra-hard fish, maybe. i was in the back, relaxing (not sleeping, as i'm wont to do on boats, trains, buses, and motorized recreational vehicles), and the motor all of a sudden went -clunk- as it's wont to do when it hits one of these said fish.

h initially said that we'd know by the dent in the side if we'd really done damage. but there was no side dent to be had. so how could this have happened? it's still a mystery. i think maybe we drove over it.

the pimms day wasn't as lovely as the non-pimms day, unfortunately.

but on both days, victims on the launch were greeted with the two finger salute by yours truly.

signed,
the wife
webofevil
Sep. 18th, 2007 01:44 am (UTC)
Re: the wife speaks
I’d like to clarify that there was no particular reason you weren’t assigned a speaking part in this post. Obviously you were all about the “What the fuck did we just bump into?” along with the rest of us. I was just trying to keep things short and snappy and, as usual, devoid of real names. But you’re right, I didn’t include you by initial, an omission for which I apologise and which I shall rectify right now:

- J -

You did very well not to nod off in the back.
(Anonymous)
Sep. 18th, 2007 02:23 pm (UTC)
Re: the wife speaks
aww sweet. thanks i feel better now.
(Anonymous)
Sep. 18th, 2007 06:25 am (UTC)
Maybe it's a new ad campaign for Lynx. Or is H a superhero, able to bend these things to his will?
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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