Holiday Bloopers become Family Folklore

In the holiday season there will be events that become stories to be retold for many years ahead. While many of these situations may not be funny at the time, they do become legacy events marking family holidays.

For most of my life, family holidays have included activities associated with a boat. Is there a boat owner or boat user who doesn’t have a blooper story?

We often sit on our local beach over summer and the best location is in the shade by the boat launching area, as it is a location of constant amusement. While one must try not to be smug, what we see is often followed by “yeah I have done that”, or “whoa, never done that before”. So I must admit I have launched a boat without the bungs in. Water rising above the floor boards is great motivation to get the boat moving so that the water can drain out. I have tried launching the boat with the safety restraints still on. Then my younger son has launched the boat by taking all attachments and ropes off to see the boat roll down the trailer and sit on the beach.

Launching boats on a beach that has no ramp is another great spectator sport. It’s the source of wonder and hilarity. You see launch and retrieval methods that range from very clever to outrageously stupid. We use a tractor to launch our boat that has often come to the aid of vehicles sitting axle deep in the salt water. I am convinced that many younger men who own a 4-wheel-drive, with which they use to launch their boat, believe that salt water isn’t corrosive. With salt water washing the under body of their vehicle as they launch their boats and then exit quickly so that water is sprayed everywhere, I can only see a future of seized mechanical parts and rusting panels. These guys haven’t noticed how rusty most beach tractors are.

On the topic of boating bloopers, who hasn’t anchored their boat with insufficient warp to then find with the rising tide that you start to drift? In a busy anchorage drifting is not welcomed by your neighbours.

Running aground is not funny at the time, but entering strange estuaries and waterways until you find the marker buoys can cause the occasional finding of the bottom with the prop, or at the extreme end up firmly on a sandbank. While this usually isn’t an issue on an incoming tide, it is not to be experienced on an outgoing tide. I can remember a time with my Father on the Manukau Harbour waiting several hours for the tide to come back in. After walking the boat for several 100 metres we decided the mud and lack of water had got the better of us and sitting it out seemed the best solution.

Then there is that time, while fishing in really deep water, when one finds that as you are feeding out the anchor rope that it was never tied to the boat initially. To see an anchor disappear into the depths is a painful experience.

Then there is the experience of motoring by compass for over an hour in mist only to realise that the land before you isn’t Great Barrier Island but the Coromandel. Who knew that other dashboard instruments cause magnetic fields that interfere with the compass? If the error had been in the other direction the result would have been much worse – maybe even lost at sea. Ah the joys of boating.

I think the best/worst we have ever done was on a campervan holiday in the South Island with three small children. After a toilet stop we recommenced our journey only to realise 10 minutes down the road that we had left the youngest child behind at the toilet. Upon returning we expected to find a distraught child but she greeted us with the words, “I knew you would come back for me.”

At PK, we trust you will be blessed with great summer recreation times with friends and family. Should you have a blooper experience, sit back and laugh at yourself. Forgive yourself and move on. That blooper day will be revisited in the future by you and others with great hilarity.

Peter Goulter

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