Starting out tough…
  |  First Published: June 2011

There’ something to be said about learning about boating in a beat up old beast with a 60hp black anchor on the blunt end. Especially if you’re a Dudd.

I’m so very glad that Stuffer, Boobs and I learnt all there is to know in a tinny smaller than a budgie's water bowl and a De Havilland that was old when Moses played prop for the Red Sea Barbarians.

I was reminded of our earlier days recently when I went to check out Spen’s new 6m plate boat, which he bought together with Buzz and Bobbo. Even a new D8 Cat just up the road got absolutely no interest from me. At that stage all I could see was a big white blur across my entire field of vision, even though the new boat was still about 500m away.

And it didn’t disappoint either. As we drove nearer, the beast began to take shape. Lovely chines, great centre cab, shiny new four stroke on the back. Then smaller features began to appear in detail; the anchor well, moulded fishing seats up front, rocket launchers, deck drains, GPS sounders, live tank. Easier to list what wasn’t there. An absolutely fantastic boat.

I could see Stuffer getting excited. His eyes get that gleam that only big boats and Bundy Black bring about… And his wife of course. And the kids. Of course. Especially the wife. Of course. That’s what I meant. Really.

Stuffer’s King Gees looked a size too small when we eventually pulled up beside this new boat. Boy, was it a beauty. All the things an expert would want in an offshore boat. Also all the things that Stuffer, Boobs, Doughers, Pommers, Skipper and I would want in an offshore boat. Even a few things that we wouldn’t want. Like a kill tank, which we wouldn’t ever get to use. Shiny new aluminium things we didn’t understand. Electronic things with lights and buttons we didn’t understand.

Because Stuffer and I have been fishing for so long, some people around home have this false idea that we know quite a lot about boats and fishing. Anyone who’s been out fishing and boating with us knows this isn’t quite the truth. In fact, it’s not even close to the truth. But we’re quite happy for people to think this, because sometimes it’s useful. People invite us out on fishing trips and boat trips and things like that. It only ever happens once before they get the picture, but that’s ok. Better than never. So we gave Spen the benefit of our wisdom with little oohs and ahhs, kicked a couple of the tyres, and tried not to say anything that Spen would know made about as much sense as Black Sabbath unplugged. Eventually we had to head off. Stuffer was dribbling all down the front of his shirt. And his King Gees.

That’s when I began to feel a bit sorry for Spen. It was his first boat. How was he ever going to learn just how good this boat was if he had no benchmark to compare it to? How would he know how lucky he was to drive around in a 6m offshore boat with a brand spanking four-stroke on the back? How would he understand the benefits of live tanks, and the shiny thing up the front with all those electronic lights and stuff on it?

That’s when I took pity on him. I suggested he should have started on something a little less gleaming and new. I told him that because of the generosity of my heart, I was willing to take care of his boat for a month or two or fifteen, and that by the time I’d spent some time in it, he wouldn’t have to worry about all the bells and whistles and shiny bright things. Most of them wouldn’t work by then.

He’s getting back to me. He didn’t sound particularly keen. So in the meantime, I just have to hope we get invited onboard for a trip. It’ll just be one time, but hey, I’m not proud. A boat trip is a boat trip. Right?

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