I witnessed an incident where one lucky lady gets to enjoy boating this summer instead of lying in a hospital bed without her severed foot!
I was on the other side of the harbor watching boaters come and go as they eagerly launched, docked and prepared for the season.
I am always looking for ideas for articles and to add to our docking lessons to help other boaters.
On this day, conditions were perfect for docking—no wind, no current and no audience. (I was too far away to be seen or to help).
A couple was docking their 30’ Twin Sterndrive cruiser. She was standing on the port side deck adjacent to the arch, as he at the starboard helm, idled into position to back into their slip on the port side. She was holding onto an extra long bow line in her right hand and an extra long stern line in her left hand with loops down past her feet—much longer than either needed to be.
That’s when I knew there was going to be a problem.
He was doing a decent job of backing the boat in, until the hull under her feet was close enough for her and all her lines to step off. When she landed on the dock facing away from the boat, she turned 180 degrees to face the boat. In the process, the bow and stern lines wrapped around both her legs and body.
Once facing the boat, she realized the hull was about to T-bone the end corner of the unpadded finger dock. She yelled. He slammed the motors into forward with throttle. The bow line that was still wrapped around her legs, pulled her towards the end of the dock and somehow, some of the two arms full of dock lines were wrapped around the 6” high post/cleat. (picture shows a post/cleat–not the one in the story but similar)
A second before her leg got squashed against the post/cleat and cut off by the line, she yelled again. He yanked it into reverse. She unwrapped her legs from the line and the post/cleat. He turned off both motors, then they walked the boat into the slip. I couldn’t see or hear who said what to whom, but probably a few harsh words were exchanged.
I am not sure if she realized how close she came to losing her leg. She is one lucky lady. That docking could easily have gone so wrong—docking lines that are too long, stepping off the side deck, holding both the bow and stern lines, allowing lines to wrap around any part of your body, hammering the throttle(s) in forward or reverse, yelling.
Accidents can happen in seconds and change your life and lives of those around you forever!
We have all experienced close calls, and thank our lucky stars that we were able to regain our balance before falling into the harbor, or got out of the way of a moving boat before it hit the dock or in this case, potentially losing a foot.
Seeing this, knowing how close this was to being a serious accident and knowing that is totally preventable, I want boaters to know that there is a really good reason to take boat handling and docking lessons. Our lessons are all about maneuvering and docking easily for the Captain and safely for the First Mate in all types of conditions, dock configurations and weather.
DOCKING DONT's – Too long to list
DOCKING DO's– Take Docking and Handling Lessons and learn to dock easily and safely—especially for Your First Mate!
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