Many Lessons from One Event

August 31, 2010

This happened at Montague Harbour.

We had launched our skiff after successfully completing a “Team Building & Communications Exercise” (read successfully hooking a mooring buoy on the first pass) on a beautiful sunny afternoon when our daughter Molly’s Significant Other (S.O.) shouted, “That guy just fell in the water!”

About 50 yards across the crowded harbor we saw an older 45’ trawler meandering slowly among the mooring buoys. A woman was standing at the stern, calling to her spouse, who was floundering in the water.

We yelled at the woman to “stop the boat,” while Molly and Stuart (S.O.) jumped in the skiff and headed toward their boat. Meanwhile, the spouse was struggling to hold on to the swim step after being deposited there by another boater in his skiff.

When the woman told them that she “didn’t know how to stop the boat; only knew how to turn off the keys,” Molly put the skiff hard against their hull while Stuart climbed up the side and over the rail to take the boat out of gear. Both engines immediately quit, as well.

Stuart and Molly then dropped the trawler’s RIB dinghy into the water (the dinghy thankfully was mounted on Weaver Snap Davits). The man was able to climb into the RIB and onto the swim grid and his boat. He proceeded to the pilothouse, where he pulled out the ignition key switches. He started the engines by touching two wires together!

Molly and Stuart got the boat tied to a buoy before returning to our boat and a deserved adult beverage.

Teachable Moments

The woman did not know the very basics of boat handling. The man was trying to maneuver the boat and simultaneously capture the buoy.

No one was wearing a life jacket.

Preventive Maintenance is suspect. The railing broke as he was leaning against it, and hot wiring is a novel way of starting the engines.

The boat was not equipped with a boarding ladder.

This was a setup for a catastrophic event. Only a calm day, pure luck, and the presence of a lot of people kept the situation from becoming much worse.

Dave Scott
Prime Time II
American Tug 41

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