Share your boating accidents

Years ago my dad and my grandfather bought a 22’ sailboat. I really liked sailing with them. It is definitely a cool feeling when your wind-powered boat is going faster than some other gasoline-powered boats :smiley: .

When we went sailing, we liked to have 3 people on the boat. With three people, one person could be at the tiller, one person at the sails, and one person free to relax, or get drinks/snacks below decks without anybody else having to drop what they are doing. Of course, as my dad and grandfather got more confident in their sailing abilities, they figured 2 people was perfectly fine if they couldn’t find a third person to come along.

One day my dad and I went sailing together. I was about twelve at the time. All I can remember is that I was a pretty crappy sailor :frowning: My dad would have me operate the sails, giving me specific instructions (“pull that line. Now let that line go slack.”). When we would get back to the marina to put the boat on the trailer, my dad would use the outboard motor to slowly navigate through rows of lined up boats (it was basically like a parking lot only with boats). At this point he would have me steer, so that he could take the sails down. That way, the boat would be more or less ready for transit when we got it to the ramp, and we could just get it on the trailer and drive home.

My job was to keep the boat on a straight course while my dad took the sails down. The boat started to veer to one side, so I tried compensating by turning in the other direction. But for some reason, the boat wouldn’t turn, and we were slowly, SLOWLY on a collision course with a moored boat which was actually occupied by its owners :eek: I told my dad, “uhhh, dad? I need help”. My dad was busy struggling to stuff some sails into a bag, and kind of angrily blew me off at first. I started panicking, and shouted, “DAD! WE’RE GOING TO CRASH!”. In reaction to this, he turned around to see what I was yelling about, and saw a row of boats looming directly ahead of us (at this point our sailboat somehow managed to turn 90 degrees on a head-on collision…I have no idea what caused this as I was trying to turn AWAY from the moored boats as best as I could). I couldn’t see the expression on my dad’s face, but it must have resembled the expression of the passengers of the moored boat, a kind of deer-in-the-headlights stare. My dad and the other passengers kind of just stared blankly at each other for one looooong second, them my dad screamed, “SHIT!”, dashed across the deck, grabbed the motor controls (it was a tiller-like thing, not a wheel), put the motor in reverse and gunned it as hard as he could to slow us down, while try to maneuver away from the moored boats. In the panic, I was sitting in such a position that made it hard for my dad to control the boat, and he was screaming, “MOVE, MOVE!” and I was in such a panic that I literally ‘froze up’, I couldn’t think, or act, or do anything, so my dad grabbed me by the life jacket and kind of threw me across the cockpit to get me out of the way. Our boat kept moving toard the moored boat, albeit slower, with the other passengers gawking in horror at us. We did hit them, though it was only with the gentlest of nudges, before my dad got things under control and continued on our way.

Aftewards, I felt really terrible and was convinced I’d never set foot on my dad’s boat again. But my dad was pretty cool about it and laughed it off, and his only regret was that he didn’t look up sooner to help me.

In retrospect, I could argue that it was my dad who was involved in the collision, since he was in control of the boat when it collided with the Amazing Grace (the sailboat we hit).

About a month after this little fiasco, my grandfather wanted to take the boat on a solo cruise in San Francisco Bay. My dad, still a little warry after the run-in with the Amazing Grace, protested this, but my grandfather somehow got his way. During his joyride, he somehow managed to crash the boat into a RESTAURANT :eek:

Seems there is a restaurant called “Charlie Brown’s” which is built on a pier (I think this was in San Francisco…maybe some other Bay Area Dopers could back me up here…). Apparently my Grandfather wanted to sail past the restaurant, possibly to show off. I guess he got too close, because the sailboat smashed into one of the wooden pylons which damaged the fiberglass hull above the waterline. My guess is that the type of boat we had wasn’t really designed for one person to operate, either that or my grandfather was not all that when it came to sailing. :confused:

Well, this didn’t exactly happen to me…it was a friend.

He fell off the edge of a motor boat and the motor cut his leg almost completely off. He had a lot of pain and couldn’t do anything because he had such a deep cut. The doctors said he would probably be able to get around better with a fake leg and left it up to him to decide whether or not to become an amputee.

I never did hear what he chose. I’m just glad I wasn’t the one who had to do the choosing!!

The only thing that has happened to me while on a boat was many years ago. We had taken a break to do some swimming and the wind started to kick up. We got back on the boat and started making our way back to shore. The boat was leaning pretty bad against the wind, and I was still a tad wet when I slipped off the side of the boat. (it was a small 2 person sailboat)

At the time it was pretty damn funny to watch the boat continue to sail off until my partner got the thing turned around to come pick me up. Good thing I had my vest on and was actually a very strong swimmer.

Not a boat, but a door…

One day after a heavy late spring rainstorm, my older brother, then about 16 or 17 and his friend John Smith (yes! Really his name! Ask me about the time they were arrested once…and when he threw a skull at me :mad: )

Anyway, my older brother and his friend Johnny took one look at the swollen, rushing river that went through the village, and thought, ‘This would be a perfect time to take a door, use it as a raft, and go sailing down the river, past all the houses, fire station, and under the big, old stone bridge in the centre of town.’

Normall this was a boring, placid river. Normally my brother was a boring, placid person.

Actually, that’s not true. But I digress.

Anyway, he and Johnny found a door from a scrap pile, and set sail down the river – as best I know, they were doing just fine – they sailed along waving at people who watched them from the banks of the water and through people’s back gardens (there were a series of old houses along the river that were built by people who knew this river flooded every time there was a rainstorm.)

When they got to the bridge, though, it was a different story – usually there was about 20 foot clearance under the bridge; this storm had brought the water level up to about 18 inches below the bridge, which was old stones, and jagged in places underneath, and very wide (it was the main road.) Also, the water was rushing rapidly underneath, since it was now squeezed into a narrow conduit cos of the bridge’s high stone sides.

My brother and Johnny quickly realised that lying on the door and sailing underneath was not a wise thing to do – and the water was rushing so quickly, that even an experienced swimmer would have been in trouble to jump off and risk getting a bash on the head under the bridge, in the dark – and the current was too fast to swim off to one side.

My brother and Johnny couldn’t swim.

There were people watching, and even people standing on the bridge, as both fell off the door, and my brother managed to catch himself against part of the stone strut on the bridge – he was literally hanging on by his ankles, and clutching desperately to hold on to his screaming, panicking friend, who was being pulled under the bridge by the current. I don’t know how long they were there, but my brother remembers shouting at the people on the bridge not to just stand there, but to run to the firehouse, which was only about 500 metres away (this was in 1971 or 2, so there were no mobiles). Help did come, and the firemen pulled my brother and his friend out. Johnny was hysterical, and my brother just furious at the people who had just stood there – he was within easy reach of several pairs of hands, and no one did anything. Perhaps they were in shock, perhaps they didn’t think it was as serious as it looked.

Anyway, we didn’t find out about it until a couple of days later – I remember him coming home that night, sullen and snappish, but this was his typical mood at that age! He confessed to my oldest brother that night what had happened, (they shared a room), and my oldest brother told me and my parents. My mum didn’t believe it, as it sounded so bonkers and cos both my brothers had a silly sense of humour and loved to wind her up (‘Who sails down a river on a door – especially when he can’t swim!’), until she saw how torn up and bloody my brothers’ shins, ankles, and feet were…I remember it gave me nightmares as a little kid…

Unfortunately I know of two deaths due to boating accidents. One was a friend of a friend. My friend’s friend was diving, came up, and a boat passing over hit him as he surfaced and killed him. That boat then crashed into my friend’s boat, and my friend was onboard. He was badly disfigured, had a lot of serious injuries and nearly didn’t make it. The accident made the papers. He’s fully recovered physically, but says he’ll never dive or go boating again.

The second death was a paralegal that worked in the same building as I did downtown. A few years ago he went diving and the same thing, a boat passed over him as he surfaced, killing him.

Horrible accidents.