Princecraft Starfish 16′ DLX SC review #2:

October 16, 2012

A reader confronted me:  “I tried to find my way around your blog and couldn’t make any headway.  I was looking for your series of reviews of the Princecraft.  Where are #2 and #3?”

Blushingly I admitted that I hadn’t written them.

“You shouldn’t do that.”

“I guess I’ve been more interested in producing content than curating a library.”

So here goes Review #2, wildly out of chronological order.  Call it a flash forward or something.

The boat’s currently in the yard, hauled in advance of a promised storm which turned out to be a shower.  But therein lies a tale.  A couple of weeks ago I pulled a muscle in my leg and it grew steadily more painful until I took to bed for a week or so to let it heal.  Calling upon his immense experience but little actual observation, my Portland G.P. insisted it was a hamstring pull.  Paul, a physiotherapist at the Athens clinic, explained it was an adductor tear, and quite a nasty one with a lot of bruising.

Adductors enable one to raise the leg for steps over objects.  I wasn’t looking forward to hauling a boat with limited mobility.  Bet agreed to crew, so I backed the trailer down the ramp beside the slip, set the brake, and limped over to the dock.  Stepping down into the boat wasn’t all that bad.  I had the tall seat and a dock post for balance, and the wide step on the starboard side provided a good target for my lurch down into the boat.  One more weight shift over the stiff leg and I stood on the floor of the boat at the stern, still balanced by the seat.

I released the stern safety rope which snaps into a towing eye, then reached over and twisted the key as I sat down.  The engine purred to life.  Bet tossed the two bow lines into the cockpit.  The boat gently eased backward to where I could release the final stern line and I was away.

Did I mention it was blowing whitecaps in the bay?  I realized I would have to run onto the trailer with a strong cross wind and occasional drifting patches of weeds.  Oh well.  Normally hauling a 16′ boat just involves taking aim and shutting off when it gets to the trailer.  This would be a little more difficult.

I remembered a time-honoured boating adage:  Good seamanship is never getting into a situation where you need to use it.  Well I had a bum leg, an audience, and a strong cross wind, so I guessed I’d better raise my game a bit, anyway.  Early on I’d installed a couple of tall PVC tubes at the corners of the trailer to protect the hull during capers like this.  I decided to use the wind, so I raised the motor a bit to clear the silt along the shore and began to drift toward the trailer.  This seemed controllable at low speed, so I slid the nose in quite close to the upwind post, just touching it, then gently nudged forward into the gap between the posts until the boat stopped.  Bet hooked the winch into its ring and started to crank.  I shut off and reached across to hold the upwind post to centre the hull on the trailer.  That worked, so after she’d attached the safety chain at the bow I raised the engine a bit and asked Bet to drive ahead.

The part of this I had dreaded most was my departure from the boat on the trailer.  No way was I going to jump today.  But the step up out of the cockpit floor and the wide port gunwale allowed me to drop the bum leg over onto the trailer fender.  The handhold on the cockpit bulkhead turned out to be ideally placed for this.  Another step down the side of the fender and I was on the ground.

I’d always detested climbing over the side of the old Springbok when it was on its narrow trailer.  The new trailer allowed me to make the climb with an injured leg.  Bet and I realized right then that the Starfish and its matching trailer have a few ergonomic touches worth their weight in gold for someone with restricted mobility.   It’s a great geezer boat.


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