Raising a family, working, paying a mortgage and the usual all left me a surf fisherman into my 40s. Finally, a charter-boat-captain friend recommended a used 16-foot Starcraft with a 30 hp engine and a trailer for a price that even my wife said I couldn’t refuse. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to take it out. So, on a beautiful, sunny July afternoon, I towed the rig to our local boat ramp.
With the usual weekend crowd relaxing on the pier benches, I manfully took a good 10 minutes to back it down, using most of the two ramp lanes. Undeterred, I made ready to launch when a much more experienced skipper pulled his boat up for retrieval and nicely asked if I would move my boat trailer over to a single lane so he could get his boat out.
Eager to show I was a good boater, I jumped in the truck, went into gear and immediately dropped the boat on the tarmac. That was just great (and also funny to the watching crowd). Anyway, good Samaritans helped me get the boat back on the trailer. They kindly suggested I put off launching until Monday and that I might want to practice backing up with the trailer at the shopping mall early in the morning before the stores opened.
Since then, I have purchased a bigger boat and have experienced no more humiliating episodes. And yes, I learned to practice first, and also to make sure I never, ever unhook the safety chain until I am absolutely ready to launch.
[Many boaters only get to go boating seasonally and sporadically. We applaud Mr. Vontzalides for reminding us about the value of practice.]
Wanted: Your Stories
Share your boating mistakes and mishaps so that your fellow boaters might learn from your experience. Send us your first-person accounts, including what went wrong, what you’d do differently, your name and your city, to [email protected] and use “ILAB” in the subject line. If your story is selected for publication, we’ll send you a $100 West Marine Gift Card!”