Hello — JamesF
I've been lurking here for a couple of months, and finally registered this afternoon, so I thought I'd say hello:
I'm a rescue/safety helm at my local sailing club, having joined for sailing and found I preferred more stable craft with their own source of power. I surprised myself earlier this year when I looked at the date (October 2003) on my Powerboat 2 certificate, which I did when I was 14, and found that this year was my tenth season of watching and waiting for dinghies to fall over.
We're a small club with no launching facilities other than a shingle beach, which limits us to small boats: our current safety fleet consists of two re-tubed Avon SR4s (Mercury 40hp two-strokes) and one Ribcraft 4.8 (Honda BF50). Like many of you seem to be, I'm a great admirer of the SR4, the deluxe model in particular. I can't speak highly enough of the Ribcraft either, except for the tendency of the current engine to ventilate (which I don't think it did with the Mercury 40 that was on it before).
The beach also makes our launching and recovery a bit different — the boats each have a two-inch deep hardwood keel with a stainless steel band to stop us leaving sheets of gelcoat behind on the pebbles. Launching through waves might need six or more people plus the helm and crew, which is quite crowded around a boat that size. Landing is often done at speed — anything from just on the plane to wide-open throttle. It takes a couple of seasons to get really confident doing that, and we can't do it nearly as easily with the Ribcraft, because the power tilt is trickier than just pulling the engine up.
It's all quite different from RIB cruising, and means that the most boat I've ever handled was on that Powerboat 2 course (another Avon Searider — possibly a 5.4 — with a 75HP Honda). I'd quite like some more experience in bigger boats and longer distances (the furthest I've been in one go is from Beer to Sidmouth, which is something like 8 miles along the coast, and that was in 2005), but I think I'll always enjoy the satisfaction of getting cold, tired people and broken kit back to the beach safely; and the feeling of punching hard through the last wave before the beach, then seconds later, stepping out, turning round and seeing the distance between the front of the sea and back of the boat.
In the short time I've been lurking here, I've already bookmarked an eBay search for Seariders, which I'd never have done before. It might be one of those things that'll have to go on the "To Do... Pending Disposable Income" list, along with "Private Pilot's License".