Ben Turner

Ben and more bloody Mackerel
Mackerel anybody ?

Yo, 

To me living on an Island was always not quite right without having boat on of my own, so after living here for a year I started the hunt for something cheap and simple to get out on the water. Going back to when I teenager we visited some family who’d made the move to Turkey to live on a 44ft Beneteau called Nice Shoes. One afternoon I was invited to captain their small inflatable tender with an 8hp outboard which for a 13 year old was like driving a floating go cart!

I was totally hooked, I became quite the anorak and obsessed over buying something similar for my own. After hours and hours of scrawling the internet ads and working in the local green grocers I had managed to save just enough to buy a 9 foot, fiberglass, Spitfire speedboat, originally raced in the 70s as a junior racing boat. It had two seats, and a whopping great 30hp Suzuki outboard on it and was perfect for my Dad and I to zoom around the Pembrokeshire coastline. We soon outgrew the small speedboat and we joined the Fletcher Arrowflight club, she was an original late 70s model with an engine just as old to match. It was a great step up and we had some awesome summers days out on the ocean wave on that boat. When I moved to University sadly the fletcher had to go and I still miss that boat until today.

After living in Alderney for a year without my own boat it was time to buy something to quench my thirst and get out and enjoy the water’s around our little island. A friend of ours had a small Avon Rover Rib with a 25hp Mercury which was called ‘The clunge magnet’, she was small and fast but after some rather catastrophic engine failure it was time to find a new engine. I was aware of a friend who owned the same engine only controlled with a tiller, I enquired about it and he happy gave it up for free as it did need some attention to the carburetor. The small Avon had quite an intricate steering console and remote control system which I wasn’t very keen on disconnecting, nor was the owners.

One day while renovating a property to open as a new beach bar I noticed a 4.8m Tornado Rib sitting on a good trailer with a for sale sign hanging off the console. The boat had sitting where it was for quite some time and I felt I was in a good place to bargain with the owner, luckily I was informed he was very close to chopping the boat up and taking it to the rubbish tip!  

I was lucky enough to buy the boat for £450 including the great condition trailer. I swiftly attached the 25hp we’d been given and launched the boat into Braye harbor. Jake and I did a sea trial and found the boat responded great despite it being controlled via a tiller from the back. However, one day while out fishing with my wife and Jake, we broke down in the fast running tide of the Alderney Swinge and had to row against the tide back into the harbor!! I had lost all confidence in the engine and didn’t touch it for about 8 weeks over the summer. Helene and I were getting married in July and I had a group of friends staying on another friend’s yacht which was on a swinging mooring in the bay. They needed a tender and I new my rib would have been perfect, I got the engine to the local marine engineers where they located the problem and got the boat back into the water in enough time. Sadly the engine worked for 20 or so minutes and didn’t work again, I think the carburetor needs adjusting. 

Ben and Helene
Ben and lovely wife Helene

After the wedding madness had calmed down I found myself thinking that buying a new engine would take away the stress and constant worry over trying to get old engines running. We had some money saved and we decided that buying a new engine would enable us to use the boat as a mode of transport to get off Alderney as and when we wanted to.  I opted for a Suzuki DT60, the design of the engine and its excellent fuel efficiency made it the obvious option. The engine was delivered from the UK and was installed by a friend of ours who works at the local marine engineers. As with all new engines the running in period was lengthy, but totally worth adhering to. 

In October 2016, we had a chance to convoy with another boat on the 50 mile around trip from Alderney to Guernsey, our neighboring island. The weather was looking good the day before and we decided it was a go. We left early and before long we had realised that leaving may not have been the best idea. The wind was forecast to be around 8 knots, which ended up being more like 14 to 16 knots. The journey was tough for us on board, the shorter length of the boat meant that instead of travelling from wave crest to crest we we’re nose-diving into every wave. Sheet of water after sheet of water engulfing our little rib, luckily I had opted to have a bilge pump installed while having the engine installed, which remained on the entire journey. We arrived safely in Guernsey, dripping head to toe and down to our underwear. Thankfully the wind dropped slightly for our return journey later that afternoon, as well we were now going into the wind and tide but they were both going the same direction. The journey back was a lot more enjoyable. I managed to trim the engine so the boat was riding great through the conditions. 

Now Alderney is in the grip of winter and Pocket Rocket has been wrapped up for some weeks now, I daily find myself planning what needs doing when Spring comes around, and I still find myself dreaming of what my next upgrade will be! We’re looking forward to the summer to see what adventures will arise!

Ben.