Should we be taught how to use an outboard?
I had logged few miles since completing my Day Skipper when my family and I found ourselves at anchor off the beautiful Italian island of Ponza. Land beckoned a hungry crew so my son and I made the tender fast to the stern of the yacht. We had used the outboard without incident the previous day so, climbing into the dinghy, I was in confident mood.
Kneeling low, I was passed the outboard and I began to manoeuvre it carefully into place. Suddenly unbalanced by the wake of a powerboat that had passed close by without regard, I followed the outboard, arms first, into the water.
Fiercely still clinging on, I expected the inevitable plunge to the sandy bottom but with surreal surprise we both surfaced. Lifeguard style, I swam the soggy, drowning bulk back to the yacht where my son was able to muscle it aboard. Ashamed of my own incompetence, I was left to rue the fact that aspiring Day Skippers only have to prove they can row, not that they can competently handle an outboard. Chris Beeson replies: Interesting point, one on which Ken Endean expresses fairly strong views in his feature on tender safety (p18)
Pretty much anyone can row a tender but outboards can be demons. Should we be taught how to handle them?