Pride comes before a fall

George Town in the Exumas, Bahamas, has a small saltwater lake, Lake Victoria, in which the dinghy dock is located and it’s accessed via a narrow cut passing under the road. People stop and chat on the stone bridge parapets, watching the dinghies buzzing backwards and forwards beneath.

One afternoon Carol and I were about to enter the cut en-route from the anchorage to the Two Turtles for the Friday night jump-up when we had to do a hasty about-turn to accommodate an outbound eighteen-foot speed boat.

Standing at the steering pedestal were two hot-shots, looking cool in their reflecting sun glasses and baseball caps worn backwards for greater aerodynamic efficiency. An enormous Mercury outboard, ninety horses at least, was popping and spluttering on the transom. With the acoustical enhancement provided by the stone bridge it sounded like the grid of the British Motorcycle Grand Prix waiting for the flag to drop and all eyes were upon it as it emerged from the cut.

The pilot jammed open the throttle and they were off, the bow straining skyward and the stern squatting deep as the big prop bit, sending a rooster tail of water billowing behind them. One nano-second later there was a “WHAM!” and then total silence. The speedboat bobbed in its own wake and the crew sprawled in an undignified heap in the bow. Of the monster motor there was no sign, just a jagged hole in the transom and a small cloud of blue smoke drifting over a growing oil slick, just where the submerged sandbar is at the entrance to the cut.