Learning From Our Mistakes

Comical errors all boaters can learn from

March 2019 Feature

Have you ever locked your keys inside the car? None of us wants to admit it, but all of us can probably raise our hands if we’re being honest. It’s just one of those things that happens when you’re in a rush or a little too absent-minded. It’s also something that can happen to anyone – the 16-year-old that just got her license yesterday to the professional NASCAR driver.

Although it might be a little difficult to lock your keys inside your pontoon, we’ve all made similar errors. No need to bow your head in embarrassment. Rookie mistakes are common. We’ve all committed them, even some of us seasoned boaters.

The PDB staff hunted down some of the funniest stories of errors committed by boaters and have decided to share some with you while not identifying any names. So as you lounge from the comfort of your home (or boat, as the case may be), remember that in the right (or wrong) situation this could very well be you.

Tying Up Gone Wrong
We all once struggled to learn to tie our boats up properly. Once you become a seasoned boater, tying up becomes something as automatic as tying your shoelaces. However, the first few times can be rather difficult and hold far-reaching consequences if not done properly.

“On my first major trip out on the boat I went to Hot Springs and raced a storm back to Fisherman's Wharf. I tied up and grabbed a table where I could watch my new investment rock and roll. I forgot to set my front legs on the rear Bimini top, and then I tied my fender to the rear frame of the Bimini. As the boat rocked against the dock, it pulled the rear leg loose, and without support from the front, it folded forward.
I put on quite a show as I wrestled with it in the wind while everyone watched from the restaurant. There were some small scratches, but luckily the Bimini frame didn’t bend. Whew! Of course, my wife loves to tell the story from her view – watching my face in real time and then coming to help when I couldn't reset it on my own.”
Lesson learned: Always take the time to tie up properly, even when dinner is calling your name.

Forgetting The Little Things
We’ve all had a “duh” moment, otherwise known as the moment you realize you’ve forgotten to do something that you’re normally on top of such as remembering to put the emergency brake on when parking on a hill or locking said automobile when parking in a shady neighborhood. If we’re lucky our small transgressions go unnoticed, but if we’re unlucky events like those that occur in the story below could happen. 
“With a storm approaching we rushed back to the ramp and I dropped the wife off to get the trailer. I pulled away from the dock to let others load. It was taking her awhile so I turned the boat off.

“By the time she pulled down the ramp with the trailer the boat wouldn’t start and by now we had floated into some shallow water. I tried repeatedly to start it as the storm was bearing down, with no luck. Another guy towed us over to the ramp and I was able to get it on the trailer just as all hell broke loose weather-wise. It wasn’t until later that night that I realized the red safety tether had come off from the throttle and that’s why the boat wouldn’t start.”
Lesson learned: The little things make a difference. Always be sure to check something as small and seemingly insignificant as your safety tether.

Losing Control
Have you ever hydroplaned during a thunderstorm? It is a terrifying sensation to feel the wheels of your vehicle lose control as they hit water and slide trying to gain traction. Once you’ve gained control of your vehicle again your heart continues to try and pound its way out of your chest, perfectly aware of the extreme peril you just put yourself in as you take the roads just a little slower the rest of your way home. The feeling can also happen when boating.
“I had just got my boat back from the mechanic from removing my engine to replace the gimbal ring. I got it into the water and reversed it off the trailer. I went forward and did a small cruise before coming back to the dock to get the trailer out of water.

I was coming into the dock and attempting to slow down, but when I went to put the throttle into reverse, the boat thrusted forward. I put the throttle in what I thought was neutral and ran to the front of the boat to keep it from hitting the dock. My dad got the bright idea to slam it in reverse, thinking I just wasn't able to get it into reverse. Problem was the shift cable had come out of the holding bracket, causing it to stay in gear because the mechanic forgot to tighten the cable wire nut. 

So when my dad rammed it down in reverse, the boat lunged forward at full throttle and it ended up knocking me down. So next time I'm in a situation like this, just turn the key off so nobody can take the wheel.”
Lesson learned: Slow down. Always take the time to slowly approach the dock. Even when problems arise, they’re often magnified at higher speeds.

Putting It All In Perspective
In the end, we all learn from the crazy experiences we share on the water. Accidents are by definition never intended, but from them we can learn great lessons that eventually sculpt us into better boaters.

So next time your friend goes to tell an embarrassing story that you find yourself cringing through, make sure to take notes so you too can learn from their mistakes.


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