There was a
in the good old days
before 'Yacht Harbors' became organized, well run businesses when it
possible to park up for the night without paying.
Uncle Charlie’s route would be planned so they would arrive in the
early evening when the marina staff, one man, his dog and a boy had
home for the evening.
And an early morning departure would get them out before anyone turned
asking for money.
Unfortunately one morning they overslept and were roused by a muscular
female attendant with a mustache like a dray-horse, demanding money.
Even Uncle Charlie wasn’t brave enough to argue with her.
In Uncle Charlie’s opinion, marinas these days are more like high
security POW camps with their fences, clanging gates, floodlighting and
grim-faced ‘warders’ patrolling the pontoons at all hours.
Mind you his aversion isn’t shared by the rest of his crew.
Auntie Gladys and Cousin Doris would be more than happy to pay for the
facilities such as proper toilets and showers.
And they could happily spend a day browsing the natty boutiques which
be part and parcel of the modern marinas.
Then too for Cousin Doris, there is the attraction of all those bronzed
men of the racing fraternity in their natty shorts.
Avoiding such dens of iniquity does cause Uncle Charlie passage
You’d think navigation would get easier with practice’
He’d mutter as he plans a zig zag course from one to the other of the
free anchorages left.
But truth to tell it’s not just the money
which deters Uncle
Charlie, it’s the whole business of maneuvering in a marina with
“Panope’s” dodgy gear box.
Uncle Charlie’s approach to a
tight spot usually
begins with a relaxed smile until it is time to slow
“Panope’s” approach by putting her in reverse.
Then his smile becomes a
mirthless rictus, his knuckles
whiten, he bangs the gear lever into astern, nothing happens apart from
belch from the exhaust.
Passers by on the harbor wall
stop shade there eyes, the
cockpits of nearby boat fill with spectators, skippers start putting
their spare fenders.
Then at the last minute there
is a frothing under
“Panope’s” stern, Uncle Charlie’s breath whistles out
like a punctured inflatable.
The bow dips propelling auntie
Gladys neatly on to the
pontoon, the end of which sinks under her considerable weight, low
enough to go
under the fenders at “Panope’s” stern which the prop walk has
now slewed against the pontoon.
As the exhaust cloud clears
uncle Charlie and cousin
Kevin appear, like pantomime genies finishing off “Panope’s”
mooring with a varied selection of rope off cuts, while Auntie Gladys
Cousin Doris have escaped to hide their blushes in the
Ulysses the dog, nose to the
ground disappears in a
flurry of scrabbling paws in search of anything upright to anoint with
presence and the twins having tired of staring through neighboring
in search of something sticky to eat.
Meanwhile nearby skippers
revise their departure plans
and the harbor master, having finally uncovered his eyes contemplates
No such Marina problems down at the
With practice uncle Charlie
can usually coast gently up
to his pick up buoy, then it’s just a case of hooking it and getting
loop on the riser over the king post.
Then haul on the link line to
pick up the stern
Even if they have some way on,
as long as someone is
quick enough to get the loop over a cleat there is enough scrap iron
chain on the bottom to stop the QE2.
And if they miss, there is
always Freddie’s boat
further back on the trot with plenty of old car tire fenders to bounce
Of course the trick is to secure the
mooring as quickly as
possible and not just hold it as Cousin Kevin once did, just as a gust
blowing up the creek caught “Panope’s” stern.
Cousin Kevin moored
“Panope” sailed on.
as far as uncle
Charlie is concerned have only one saving grace.
are somewhere to pack in
all those plastic boats and keep them out of the
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