Locked Out

Patrice is on the opposite pontoon in the marina. He is French, but has a British boat – which I don’t think you see very much. In the yachting world, French-built sailboats are almost standard. Boats like Beneteau and Jeanneau are the common parent companies.

Patrice though, has a Southerly 49. Southerly are distinctive British-made boats – in particular for their ‘swing keel’ design. The keel, which extends down to 3.1m, can also be retracted back into the hull. Two rudders either side act as legs for ‘sitting’ on sand. Or mud. Maybe not rock.

This is because a Southerly yacht is traditionally designed for the tidal coastline, to be happily beached while the tide goes out. Tide comes back in? No problem. Just lower the keel. With such tidal variations in the UK, this British element becomes apparent. But this isn’t a blog about Patrice’s boat, which coincidentally we also visited on display at London’s Boat Show in 2014. Man, it was sweet. Nope – this is about his car. That wasn’t so sweet.

We borrowed Patrice’s rental car, a chunky Ford, to do the supermarket shop on Friday night. He kept telling us to borrow it. Finally we took him up on his offer.

On the way back, we parked by the marina entrance with the intention of unloading the shopping bags, then moving the car to the parking lot across the road. Jack left the engine running. We closed the doors and went to the boot, which was still locked. Jack went back to his door, flicked the unlock button on the key, closed the door again.. and the whole car locked. We looked at each other. The car could lock this way with the engine still running? Whoops.

Luckily, Jack had left his car door slightly ajar – enough to run a wire through the gap. He ran to Quest and got a piece of fishing wire. Not strong enough to open the door. The handle was luckily in an easy place to open – and it was light. We just needed a stronger piece of wire.

Out came Patrice. Laughing at us! He had a stronger piece of wire with him. We opened the door as much as we could while Jack manoeuvred the wire. No joy.

‘You need a stick,’ Patrice finally said. He went off to find one.

In the meantime, a man was watching us. He came up and nodded in understanding – then extracted half a wooden boat hook from his truck next door.

What a superstar. Jack managed to crush the man’s fingers not once, but twice while the man held the car door open as much as possible. I won’t forget the sound of the man’s shrieks – for a while. He shrugged it off. Told us to carry on. Jack jammed the boat hook again into the wedge. Then he inserted the wire again – and with more wriggle-room, managed to hook onto the door handle. And open!

We found Patrice in his Southerly, still looking for a stick.

He shook his head at us, grinning. Good thing he likes a British mess.


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