Sometimes you shouldn’t ask questions like “what could possibly go wrong“, you might not like the answer. This fishing trip, I was going to call it an adventure but it was never meant to be an adventure just a simple fishing trip with the lads. We should have realised there might be more to the trip, knowing that one of the participants was my old mate Gazza. Some people will remember he may have undeservedly earned a reputation for influencing the events that go astray in the process of hunting for fish. So in this short description of our somewhat lumpy fishing trip I promise not to mention the Gazza Curse.
Anyway all of that is beside the point, we should have got an inkling of what could possible go wrong when our other mate was relating to us how the last time he went out in the boat he forgot the keys, and while he and his son were trying to hot wire the boat, a chap came up to the boat and was deeply surprised that this boat was still afloat. Apparently when he was growing up as a wee lad his father had owned this boat.
On another occasion while servicing the boat the motor mechanic remarked his surprise at the age of the motor, he hadn’t seen one in years.
However all of this had nothing to do with “”what could possibly go wrong“, a small influencing factor however was our lead fisherman, driver of the boat, father of the owner, let’s call him Third Mate. Got the tide times ever so slightly wrong.
We four launched the boat, and headed out to sea in the Firth of Thames, the day was grey, the sea slightly lumpy, and the wind behaving itself. We found our secret spot, the one that we had passed the GPS coordinates to almost everybody we knew by now, and started fishing. I must say not a great day, we caught a few legal snapper and hundreds of baby hammer head sharks. Time to go home based on our tide, remember the tide, our third mate had calculated wrong. The boat owner, and son of Third Mate, we will call him Skipper as it was his boat, and he did rather take charge of us grumpy old men.
We headed back at full speed to the ramp, nearly home, what could possibly go wrong from here you would say. I know I can hear you thinking that.
Suddenly there was silence, the motor had stopped, we ran out of petrol. We looked at the shore, looked at the skipper, then the shore, the skipper just smiled.
“We have a small issue” he said, “We have plenty of petrol, but I only have 350 mls of two stroke oil, so we will need to empty part of the container into the empty container before we mix the fuel. The sea was a bit lumpier than before and pouring petrol from one can to the other wasn’t as exact as it might have been on dry land, so a little petrol, well a lot really spilled into the bottom of the boat. Actually by the time he was finished we were in a floating bomb. Gazza and myself stood by the edge of the boat with our life jackets on, poised to do a forward roll, commando style, into the briny to save ourselves if it blew up. Fortunately, we were okay and even with petrol floating around in the bottom, the boat didn’t blow up.
Off we went again, full speed ahead towards the channel to take us back to the ramp.
“Fuck we ran out of water, two men up the front to make the weight even, the water is too shallow.” was the order from Third Mate
“Aye Aye” we said as we crawled around the small mustard coloured cabin with barely room for a foot to walk on, so we could sit on the bow.
“Be careful of the… Oh don’t worry” Skipper said
“What” I asked innocently
“I was going to say don’t lean back you will pop the windscreen out, but you already have”
“That didn’t work, everybody out” was the next utterance from Third Mate
We scanned the horizon again, the shore didn’t look any closer and we were being asked to abandon ship, to reduce the weight so it would float. We noticed that the Skipper was taking the old seafaring adage of the skipper remains with the boat to the maximum, and he was staying on board and thus remaining dry?
We leapt into the Firth of Thames and sank up to our knees in mud, great, now we were being asked to push the boat to the channel and boat ramp. This is getting messy, and we are getting very wet and muddy. With significant effort we managed to man handle the boat into deeper water and all climb back on again. With a cloud of smoke, the engine fired up and we headed confidently to the boat ramp.
Phew we are back, what could possibly go wrong from here in?
With the tide at its lowest point we could not get the trailer down the ramp far enough to float the boat on.
The Skipper decided it was best to drag the boat up the ramp towards the trailer, and then winch it on once it reached the trailer. How we get the boat off the ground and up the two foot to the first roller on the trailer was an unanswered question.
“Bugger” Skipper seemed disappointed, the rope being used to drag the boat up snapped, he was unaware he nearly chopped Third Mates finger off.
We stood around thinking, what next. During this joint brain storming in which we all threw in useless ideas, the skipper remembered his trailer was a tilt trailer, and that he could lower it down so that the front roller would be exactly under the bow, and the winch would reach the boat so we could winch all the way up.
Great, hook on the winch, hook up the strop and wind her up, fantastic plan we will have this boat on the trailer in a jiffy. Third mate, worked the car, Gazza hurled advice, he used to be an engineer and his advice was always speculative and sometimes useful but rarely ever heeded. I stepped well back and shot video, as I was now certain, something else would go wrong.
BANG! I was right
“What the Fuck”, Skipper really needs to improve is vocabulary
The trailer had just bent sideways into about a 60 degree angle, a bolt had snapped in the tilt, separating the actual bit the boat sits on from the bit that hitches to the car. For those not familiar with trailers these are big chunks of steal, which were now twisted sideways.
We all stood around again thinking and offering suggestions, our engineer was muttering some advice, however third mate, got a hammer out and we proceeded to modify the trailer. A stroke of genius the modification was completed with a piece of welding rod and a small hammer, he repaired the trailer and it was time to re position the car. Line the trailer up and have another go.
Wind wind wind wind, the winding was going well and the boat was sort of moving, but very small steps. Wind, wind, wind, wind wind, oh the boat is no longer moving but the winding has become very easy. Close examination of the issue, reveals the winch that pulls the strop, that is connected to the eye on the boat, that makes the boat come up the trailer, is broken.
Yes you guessed it but I have to say it
Now what, we all stand around thinking and offering suggestions, our engineer offers advice that we all ignore and our skipper rushes off to his car and comes back with two strops the size of a large man’s braces and decides he is going to pull the boat up with these.
Of course this fails, he doesn’t break the strops, he doesn’t move the boat, we just end up with two strops that are so tight they could be used as guitar strings.
Now what, the sensible idea might be to sit here for three hours, have a couple of beers and wait for the tide to come in to where we can float the boat on the trailer, tie it up and carry on as if nothing had happened.
Nope too easy, Third Mate and Skipper hop in a second car and head home for more pulleys and ropes to attach to the broken trailer, while Gazza and I settle down to a nice cold beer in the sun.
Move forward two hours later, the boys arrive back with a wonderful device called a “Hurry on”, this tool is a winch with wire rope. At last we have success and after fifteen minutes we have the boat back on the trailer and we are heading home, with a boat covered in mud.
The moral is never ask
What could possibly go wrong again.