‘My worst day as a skipper’ – Part 2 – A follow on from a charter yacht skipper in the UK

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I was a corporate events skipper, turned up on various vessels for schools, fools and charter companies. I did few deliveries here and there, and to be honest made an average wage from it.

There were a group of us young guys that were talented boat handlers, the area we worked in required skill shuffling vessels around in lots of tide and confined spaces. Normally Parellel parking, being a group of cool young gun skippers, the faster the approach when parking the jaw dropping cooler it looked. It helped that a pub sat above the area where people would sit drinking pints and watch the entertaining vessel owners cock up their berthing.

I was on a 7 day regatta, it went well. My clients thought I was a skipper sent down from heaven! They all had an amazing time, their guests had raved to them and were trying to get booked up for the following year. The talk was that my vessels client or charterer would probably book a few corporate sailing events in a month or so.

I was different to most other skippers. I was confident and could see things going wrong before most would. I would get my client to helm the boat out of the busy marina, with hundreds of other vessels trying to leave at the same time. Let them helm the start of the race and berth up at the end of the day. It was always a competition amongst the fleet skippers to win our little corporate races.

On the last day of this regatta, an old boy on the boat whom had just retired from the company was a guest. He had loved the week, and I knew he probably wouldn’t get to do this again so I asked him to drive the boat home and put it on her berth. ¬†As we approached the tight space she was berthed in, normally the pub was full. Skippers were cleaning their boats, my work colleges were running around sorting the fleet out and catching charter guests before they rammed the dock. There was a tiny space just big enough to get our boat in, with so many people’s eyes on us it was going to be a park at warp 10. I briefly explained to the old man to turn to port hard when I said so and not before. The adrenalin was running, the speed was stupid, and if I had been helming I would have wowed everybody again! At the last min I said ok turn to port as I hit astern ..,… He turned to starboard, I wowed everybody …. Wow what an ass!

It wasn’t my asset, I didn’t know the owner, he was hard at work at this precise moment earning enough money for the luxury of having a nice vessel, in such a nice marina. It wasn’t my company having to have responsibility for the asset, ensuring it was looked after by a responsible skipper. I was just privileged enough to be given the opportunity to be asked to sail this vessel with the added bonus of getting paid for it. The most valuable lesson in my sailing career. I never parked a vessel with such arrogance, speed, disrespect again, I still crashed boats and made mistakes, each and everyone taking onboard as a lesson.

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Jodie Richards

Jodie Richards

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