Barry Oliver dis­cov­ers that be­com­ing a boatie is not all plain sail­ing

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Holidays Afloat -

DE­SPITE hav­ing a boat li­cence, the only time I was left in sole charge of a ves­sel, I ended up ma­rooned on a sand­bank. It re­ally wasn’t my fault and it was a stupid place to have a sand­bank. Well, it was more mud than sand, to be hon­est, with a few rocks and oys­ter shells thrown in.

I ended up get­ting into the wa­ter, kneedeep in mud, and slowly push­ing the boat — those oys­ter shells are hell on the feet — un­til it was back in the chan­nel, which was a sur­pris­ing dis­tance away.

Worse was to come. When we loaded the boat back on to the trailer there was a large chunk miss­ing from the pro­pel­ler. Need­less to say, I have never been al­lowed to go solo again, though I’m glad to re­port my feet have fi­nally healed.

If I had read Rob Beat­tie’s in­for­ma­tion­packed The Boat­ing Com­pan­ion (Gre­gory’s, $19.95), it may not have hap­pened, though I wouldn’t bet on it. The cheery Beat­tie cov­ers all man­ner of alarm­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties that make my dis­as­ter look like a sail in the sun­set: cap­siz­ing, fire, may­day calls, man over­board, even sink­ing.

He doesn’t ig­nore run­ning aground which, as he help­fully points out, ‘‘ is what hap­pens when the bot­tom of the boat meets the bot­tom of the lake, river or sea’’. But most of his com­ments are more prac­ti­cal, from buy­ing boats and ba­sic nav­i­ga­tion to eti­quette and use­ful knots.

At times he wan­ders more than a lit­tle off his sub­ject: the book even cov­ers mak­ing a tele­scope and there’s a dis­cus­sion on boiled eggs and sol­diers (but­tered toast cut into thin strips, for the unini­ti­ated).

This is part of a size­able sec­tion on cook­ing on board. Food tastes 10 times bet­ter when you’re afloat, en­thuses the au­thor, who sen­si­bly puts con­sid­er­able em­pha­sis on con­coct­ing de­li­cious meals; he shares a se­lec­tion of his favourite recipes.

Th­ese diver­sions are of­ten the most en­ter­tain­ing ar­eas. He’s also a strong advo- cate for keep­ing the kids (and adults) happy and of­fers a num­ber of games. I es­pe­cially like Cast­away for the Day, which in­volves blind­fold­ing the lit­tle ones and aban­don­ing them on a de­serted is­land. ‘‘ It gives the adults a break if they need it.’’

You could even col­lect them again at the end of the day if you feel up to it.

Beat­tie’s en­thu­si­asm is in­fec­tious but, be­fore you de­cide to go all nau­ti­cal, re­mem­ber what boat stands for: Bung Over An­other Thou­sand. It can also be hard on your feet.


Cour­tesy of the pub­lisher, we have 12 copies of TheBoat­ingCom­pan­ion to give away to read­ers. Write your name and ad­dress on the back of an en­ve­lope and tell us in 25 words or less why you’d like to win. Send to: Boat­ing Give­away, PO Box 215, East­ern Sub­urbs MC, NSW 2004.

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