A HAKIN couple’s annual sailing trip saw a double-calamity recently.

As in previous years Steve and Steph McGrath set off at the end of April intending to sail down the Bay of Biscay in their boat, Gwawr.

Their first port of call was Sainte Evette in Southern Britany, just south of the much-feared Raz de Sein stretch of water.

On arrival, calamity struck; they did not see a long mooring rope floating just below the water surface.

There was a very loud bang, and the engine immediately stopped.

The rope had wrapped itself around the propeller and propeller shaft. The engine had been pulled off its mountings and had moved 105mm to the stern, stopped by the gearbox hitting the shaft water seal.

After a discussion with the harbour, the Societe Nationale De Sauvetage En Mer (SNSM), towed them to the nearby harbour of Audierne, a small fishing town.

Within three weeks the engine was re-mounted, however, the prop shaft had been twisted and needed to be replaced.

The harbour said there was a trailer suitable to lift Gwawr, and would be available shortly. After two weeks of waiting, and no sign of a trailer Steve asked if it would be OK to moor the boat on a drying wall, which was declined.

This request was repeated numerous times over six weeks.

“The trailer arrived; Gwawr was too long and heavy to be lifted onto it, to which the harbour enquired if I had thought about mooring on a drying wall,” said Steve.

This was done; however, the engineer had disappeared. Steve checked out the prop shaft and found it would work at low revs for short periods of time, but not for long motoring. The weather forecast was set fair, so Steve decided to sail home.

Just 10 minutes before departure Steve was sorting out the stern locker, when Steph shouted out “Car, Car,” a warning not often heard on a boat.

Astonishingly, a car was rolling backwards, driverless, heading for the harbour wall where Gwawr was moored.

The car’s elderly driver was behind the car trying to stop it.

Steve grabbed the lady out of the way; the Renault Twingo went over the harbour wall landing on the stern of Gwawr.

French observers were concerned how Steve would react.

To their surprise Steve was only concerned about the lady, not the boat. The accident significantly damaged the life raft and the stainless-steel stanchion pipework on the stern.

The next day, after going for a drink and exchanging details, Gwawr set off to sail home, fortunately without further incident.