Here to tell the tale…

Thursday 1st October 2015

“Art” of the macabre…

Today, for a few terrifying minutes, I thought my lower leg was about to be cut off in a boating accident. It was trapped between an anchor at the front of a stationary boat and the winch on our boat when we were caught in a strong current leaving Douro marina here in Porto. Dawn Chorus slewed sideways – we were going in reverse at the time – and I rushed to the back of the boat with a big ball fender hoping to stop the other boat’s anchor from causing us damage. Big mistake. Our boat weighs around 11 tons and was being pushed by a current of around 3 or 4 miles an hour – not a lot, but on top of our reversing speed and in a tight corner of a marina where this heavy, sharp anchor was sticking out in front of a big powerboat – called “Art”, it proved disastrous for us. The fender was squashed out of the way and the momentum of our boat caused the anchor to crush my leg, pinning me between two opposing metal objects. I screamed so much I think they must have heard me in England. Thankfully, Martin managed to give our boat a burst forward to relieve some of the pressure and then somehow pushed us off just enough to release my leg and throw me clear. The anchor proceeded to tear down the side of our boat, destroying one of the stanchions (metal bars that hold the guard rails) and then tearing through the spray hood and knocking a hole in the coach roof. We both knew I had been inches from a major, major trauma. Unbelievably, the throttle of our engine then fell loose and stopped working at that very moment – had it happened before Martin freed me, this would be a very different story. It took the help of two more men, a powered dingy and a set of lines winched across the channel to separate the boats. I was ferried to hospital where, despite long queues and not the greatest of facilities, I was treated with kindness and packed off back to our boat with nasty cuts and crush injuries, but hopefully, no lasting damage. I thought of those poor young people who were involved in an accident at a theme park recently, and I can honestly say that when I was trapped I could see clearly I was within seconds of losing a limb and was absolutely terrified. I remember screaming, “Martin, help me!” but neither he nor I can work out exactly what happened or how he got me free. When one of the guys who helped untangle the boats saw my severely dented leg, he said, “I thought with all that noise it would be a much worse injury that that”, but I think, without all that noise to alert Martin, it most certainly would have been. Lesson learned, I hope. I feel so very, very lucky.

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