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Illustration by Massimiliano Aurelio. Do you have a tale to tell? Send your story to thebitterend@boatinternationalmedia.com

Dear BOAT: “My boat was about to sink and I was expecting VIP guests”

3 January 2024 • Written by Lucy Dunn

Every month, Lucy Dunn gets the skinny on all the most treacherous tales from the high seas...  

As the proud owner of a beautiful motor yacht, I love nothing more than welcoming friends on board to share the joy of life afloat. We’d entertained many times over the years without incident, so when we invited a well-known yachting journalist and his wife to spend a few days with us in Greece, we thought what could possibly go wrong?

Well, plenty. At about the time our guests were boarding their plane bound for Mykonos, I was on a Seabob in a calm bay while watching my yacht arrive and prepare to anchor. Then all of a sudden from across the water I heard an alarming “clunk”. I raced back to the yacht to find a member of crew already in scuba gear heading below the waterline, and our two engineers buzzing around in the engine room. All I could do was keep my fingers crossed.

After a nail-biting wait, the captain delivered his verdict: the propeller shaft had disengaged from the motor and was in danger of dislodging from the vessel, which would cause the boat to sink.

That got my attention – all I could think of was our guests, who’d by now landed and were heading to Mykonos imagining a few days of pampering, great food, fine wines and fun watersports. It was too late to ask them to turn around and return home.

We made a plan: secure the shaft, fly in some mechanics early the next morning to do some emergency fixes and then sail back to Athens for full repairs. We met our VIP guests by tender and took them for sundowners in Mykonos Town to break the news. The bad news: the yacht was kaput and there would be no cruising holiday for them. The good news: if we limped back to Athens, we could still book into a hotel and have a weekend of swimming and sightseeing excursions on the Athens Riviera.

To my relief they were more than accommodating. It was proof of a good friendship that we had a great time despite having no yacht – and this incident is now something we often laugh about. Although I do think twice these days when inviting journalists on board.

First published in the January 2024 issue of BOAT International. Subscribe below and never miss an issue. 

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