What Pontoon?

Today goes down in history as my most embarrassing moment. It’s a moment all sailors dread. A moment that happens to most of us but one that shouldn’t happen in front of fellow sailors. It should only happen in private when no one is watching.

Tim and I spent the day in Ortakent just chilling but had to return to Bodrum as Tim needed to catch a flight back to the UK. The winds had picked up quite considerably and our entrance across the top of Kara Ada towards Bodrum castle was quite impressive. I bumped into my Turkish friend Yener later who had been watching us and said we were flying like a bullet. I haven’t been quoting boat speeds as the log is a little clogged up and I swear it gives false readings. Anyway, we dropped sail at the last moment and made our way back into the marina. It was busy and the wind had picked up till it was gusting up to 30kn, and that was just in the marina! I was directed to a new parking spot (you don’t get a permanent spot unless you’re in possession of a 12 month contract). I turned the boat to line the stern up with the jetty and put the boat in reverse. What should have happened was different to what actually happened. Tim was on the bow pulling in the bow line (about five miles of dirty rope) and we had marina staff on the jetty ready to take the stern lines. Then a gust of wind picked the front of the boat up and shoved us backwards. I put the engine into forward gear but nothing happened. I mean nothing happened that should have happened. What actually happened was the boat continued to move backwards and only stopped when the swimming platform crashed into the fibreglass electricity post on the pontoon.

What with the huge cracking noise that followed, the marina staff shouting at me to go forwards, me shouting at Tim to run backwards, and Tim just shouting, we caused quite a scene. It’s funny, when we came in to the marina I swear there was hardly anyone on their boats, but as soon as voices are raised you can guarantee heads will pop up from cockpits and before you know it you have an audience of fifty people, all whispering ‘there but for the grace of god’!

Anyway, it took me some weeks to work out that I actually had a problem with the gear box and it wasn’t engaging into forward gear every time I pushed the throttle forwards. On top of that Esper has a folding prop which is always slow to respond to slight movements on the throttle, and gusts of 35 knots of wind don’t help when they’re blowing in the wrong direction. Ahhh, hindsight. Don’t you just love it?

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