Sally and Mark might have finished boating, but what better way to travel back than in the lap of luxury
Day of Discovery
When the Editor suggested that Mark and I go and collect a Cove Fisher 560, trail it to Keyhaven in Hampshire and have a day on the water, I thought, why not? Mark’s an experienced trailboater, I’m not, so at the very least I might learn something. Failing that, I could always just sit back and let Mark do all the hard work. Which, ahem, is of course not what happened at all.
As a further carrot to tempt me, we had use of a new Land Rover Discovery 4. With a towing ability of 3,500kgs, this comfy beast makes shifting an 18-foot boat seem as easy as pulling along a fleet of bath toys. At least that’s what it seemed like from my vista in the cosy passenger seat – Mark insisted on driving, and who was I to argue?
As a first-time visitor to Keyhaven, I was pleasantly surprised on arrival to find a pretty, tranquil harbour, tucked away from the main thoroughfare of the Solent. In an enviable location and with a serene setting than most local spots, Keyhaven is flanked by the mudflats of a nature reserve on one side, and a massive shingle bar which extends to Hurst Castle in the distance.
After a quick refreshment of coffee and biscuits, courtesy of Keyhaven Yacht Club, which overlooks the harbour, we were ready to launch. We brought the Land Rover, boat and trailer round to the small beach outside the yacht club and drove it up to the highest point of the beach-cum-slipway before reversing into position.
Once the boat was on the slipway, Mark donned his wellies (I’d conveniently forgotten mine) and preceded to reverse the boat into the water while I went on wheel standby. Then all it took were a few firm pushes from Mark before the boat was free from the trailer. Then we were able to walk the boat round to the landing stage, ready for us to both jump aboard and begin our day on the water, once we’d returned the Land Rover and trailer to the dry safety of the car park.
Mark is lent a launching hand
I’ve trailed and launched boats for more years than it’s healthy to remember, so i couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. What lightweight needs 360 cameras and a feature called tow assist to help line-up the trailer with the tow ball? Well i’m happy to admit that i’ve turned lightweight and don’t care who knows, especially since i ended up hitching, reversing and launching pretty much on my own. this would normally entail having to dive in and out of the car umpteen times to check the whereabouts of the trailer. First off, a combination of rear camera and a tracking line that reacts
to feedback from the steering wheel guides you straight to the coupling when hitching up. Then, when it comes to reversing, the dash’s multi-tasking display not only gives a view down either side of the tow, but tracer lines judge its track or you. this old dog knows a handy new trick when he sees one.