'I wanna tell you a story'. In the early 60's my dad bought a timber boat, she was called "Useful" and I believe had previously been the Whitstable harbour launch. She was about 30' long.
He bought to use as a fishing boat in our free time off Herne Bay where she was kept on a wet mooring.
She had a Kelvin petrol/parraffin engine and the starter dog was so worn that when I tried to start her the starting handle would fly out and smash your knuckles on the engine bearers. Anyway we used her for the first summer and he decided to have her out the briny, fit a new engine and totally re-vamp her.
She was taken to a large building about half mile from the sea. Work began. A brand new BMC Captain was supplied and fitted by a local garage and a lot more work carried out by carpenters and painters (who happened to work for dad as he was a builder).
When the work was finished she would have passed for a new boat, she looked magnificent!
Time came for re-launching on Easter weekend the following year. She was towed to Neptune Jetty at Herne Bay and at high tide she was slowly pushed into the water - I will never forget that day - it was quite sunny, bit of swell and loads of people watching the launch. When we got to the stage that the water intake was below water the engine was started and we came astern off the trolley and headed for the mooring which was the other side of the pier.
It was not long before water started to be flicked up by the prop shaft as it passed through the new floor boards that had been fitted. We were about 450 yards offshore. I said to dad 'they have not connected the water outlet' how wrong I was!
There was a massive brass hand pump fitted which I tried to use but that did not work. By this time we had sea water over our ankles and were obviously going to sink.
I headed back to shore and we started waving and shouting at our launch crew who were still at the jetty, to which they and most of the other onlookers waved back!
Now the water was up to our knees and it was getting a bit frightening. I aimed for the beach next to the jetty and beached her, just in time I think. One of the local boatmen came over and said - 'How long did you soak her for?'
Puzzled looks on both our faces and we said, what...............................................?
About 10 or more 50 gallon drums with the tops cut out, were taken to the beach and pumped full of seawater on the next high tide and my dads yardman stayed with the boat and kept filling her with water as far as the lower part of the engine until she took up. In that time the hand bilge pump was repaired!
Anyway, after I think around a week she was re-launched and taken to her mooring and probably only made about a gallon a week thereafter.
For those that read this, I hope you enjoyed it. A lot was learned, and yes, we were very lucky and I will never forget it!