Captain’s Orders

There are some things you never expect to say:

‘Hello Wembley’

‘Damn it man! I need the launch codes’


But this weekend, I got to cross one of the phrases off the list.

To paint the scene; myself, Alex and Kat were huddled into an inflatable dinghy, motoring over to our friend’s boat for what would eventually be, after some minor drama, a lovely day of sailing. I was at the helms deep, or driver’s side, or whatever the nautical term is for operating the outboard motor. Alex was sat in the middle, and Kat was at the front. Also joining us on the voyage was a large, black canvas bag and some food and drink supplies for the bbq.

It was a 5-minute motor from the launching ramp to the sailboat, which factored in the slight chop-chop of the sea. At around the 3-minute mark, I noticed that the ever-present pool of water in the dinghy and had grown somewhat. It appeared that the small amounts of seawater that were splashing over the sides into the dinghy were beginning to get organised. To put in context, we were at DEFCON 2 – ankle deep water.

We laughed it off, as I held our course steady and true. A minute passed, and the volume of unwanted water had grown from a ‘meh’ to an ‘err’. I noticed the canvas bag start to bob about, and a loose sandal casually float between my legs, indicating we had reached DEFCON 3 – shin deep water.

The sailboat was still a minute away.

‘So, er, you may want to start bailing,’ I suggested.

Alex and Kat burst into action, splashing about in the water in a futile attempt to battle the rising tide. Although in fairness, from a distance it would have looked as if they were just frolicking around.

Thirty seconds away and we’d reached DEFCON 4 – knee-deep water, which was worrying as the interior of the dinghy was about knee deep. As I watched a packet of vegetarian sausages and the sandal escape over the side, I knew as captain, that it was time to give the order.
‘Abandon ship!’

My crew gave a salute, and leapt out, fully clothed, with mobile phones in pockets. The contents of the dinghy soon followed. The outboard motor then cut out and I prepared myself to heroically go down with the ship.

However, the jettisoned weight allowed the edges of the dinghy to remain just above the sea level, preventing it from taking on any more water.

I grabbed the emergency oars and skilfully rowed in circles for several minutes before the sailboat came to my rescue. I was thrown the bucket of shame, allowing the bailing process to commence.

I’d stared death in its ugly face, and won. Which was why it was left to Kat to leap back into the murky depths to retrieve the floating bag of vegetarian sausages.

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