The bondwood-boat-that-weighed-a-ton was kept in the yard for ages upended over a trestle until the day Dad decided it was overdue for an outing. It was loaded onto the trailer and off we went to Aldinga Beach, south of Adelaide. There was no simple launching from a boat ramp instead there was a lot of manhandling and moaning before the thing was actually in the water. I think it was just Dad, Mike and me who headed out. Then the fun began. On the back was a small Model 40 Seagull motor, I’m certain of this because I recently found the ancient manual. The motor was attached to the boat with screw clamps but Dad took the precaution of also tying a rope around it.
After the obligatory multiple pulls the motor started and we headed out from the shallows, over a bit of a sandbar and into deeper water. I can’t remember the sequence of events but imprinted on my mind is the image of us going around and around in circles because the anchor was caught on something, the engine dropping off the back and into the water only saved from sinking completely by the rope and the boat quickly filling with water. The boards had shrunk from being out of water for so long and seawater was flooding through the gaps. Mike and I were frantically bailing with old jam tins when I heard another boater call out to Dad, “Are you alright mate?” and absolutely astonished when Dad coolly answered, “We’re OK, thanks”. I distinctly remember looking towards the shore and thinking, “I’ll never swim that far!”
We did manage to get the anchor up and the boat back to shore before any of us drowned but it was the last time I ever put so much as a toe in that boat.