As a firm believer in discretion being the better part of valour, I'm a fairly risk averse person, which is I suppose what makes me such a dull chap. However it seems that operating a boat does unavoidably have it's scary moments, so how about an Award for the scariest moment this year. Here is my shortlist.
1. Starting Herbie's engine after bleeding the fuel and having it instantly run away to what seemed like ten million rpm because I had replaced a broken governer screw without adjusting it. I had fleeting visions of the engine exploding as I was in the engine hole alongside it. I still get palpitations at the thought.
2. Mooring up in a very strong sidewind at Campbell Park in Milton Keynes. I was on my own and there was no-one ashore to catch a rope. I quote from my blog post at the time.
There was one mooring spot, just long enough, and there was a stiff breeze blowing offshore. My first attempt failed and I overshot. Then I got blown into a rather smart boat opposite. I backed off and had another go, pointing the bow of the boat at the centre of the gap and in forward gear just ticking over, I ran along the gunwales to the bow and jumped of with a rope just as we were about to crash. Not a textbook manoeuvre but it worked. I pulled the boat parallel with the bank and leapt on to the stern to apply reverse gear to stop us just before we smacked into the boat in front.
And if you wonder why I don't have a photo of this, you don't really understand the situation!
3. On the Stort , lifting the engine hole cover to see why it had stalled and seeing this.
Nuff said. It was alright in the end.
4. Taking off the masking tape at the end of two weeks of painting the boat. The whole business of the boat painting was scary because there was so much at stake, and it's not until the end that you know if it has worked. You see, before you pull off the tape, you have this.
The paint looks OK but would half the paint come off with the tape? Would it have bled all over the place and the nice sharp edges be all ragged? After two weeks hard graft and a thousand pounds spent, these are not trivial matters. I happy to say Rick did the peeling for me while I held my hands over my eyes and squinted through the gaps between my fingers.
The result - brilliant, and probably my best moment of the whole year!
5. Another painty one. Never having done any signwriting before, putting the first brush strokes of Herbie's name on the lovely shiny newly painted panel.
Now there was no going back. Would it be a disaster? Would it ruin the whole effect of the new paint job? I was very nervous, and shaky hands are not what you need when you are signwriting. Hence all the masking tape.
Do these seem scary to you, or am I just a whimp?