LANDLUBBER’S LICENCE TO CHILL
Barry Oliver discovers that becoming a boatie is not all plain sailing
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.