By Larry MacDonald

Drum roll, please: We present a year's worth of boating blunders...that we all can learn from.

Here are the Top 10 boating blunders reported to me in the past year:

The Dumb

10. Anchor Away Gary had chartered a nearly new sailboat and was anchoring for the first time. With his wife at the helm, he dropped the hook and fed out 50' of chain, then continued to let out the rope. Thinking his wife was backing up too quickly, he asked her to slow down, which she did − but not before the rode's bitter end slipped through Gary’s  hands. It had not been tied off in the anchor locker. They were able to dock for the night at a nearby marina and the next morning, the charter company retrieved the ground tackle and extended their charter for two days to compensate them for this very avoidable mishap. 

Tip: Make sure the bitter end of your anchor rode is secured to your boat, and be aware that charter boats, especially new ones, may have unresolved problems.

9. Sssssssss... Ben and Ron were on a sailing charter in Florida when they decided to anchor in a narrow waterway. Ron rowed their inflatable dinghy to shore to tie off a stern line. While doing so, he accidentally rammed into a sharp branch, puncturing one side of the dinghy. Ben wisely shouted: “Untie the line,” which Ron did before rowing frantically back to the boat in the half-submerged tender. They spent the next day searching for a patch kit without success. Eventually, a fellow boater generously lent them his kit to make the repair.

Tip: If you have an inflatable, always carry an appropriate patch kit. You never know when you, or a fellow boater, might need it.

8. Twisted Motoring into a secluded bay, Chris selected his spot to drop anchor. While reversing to set the hook, he heard a screech and the engine started labouring. After shutting down the engine, he noticed the dinghy painter leading directly under the boat, obviously wrapped around the prop shaft. It took him multiple dives in frigid water to free the line, and an extra ration of rum to ease the pain. 

Tip: Use floating line such as polypropylene for tender painters and towlines – they'll be much less likely to foul underwater running gear. As a reminder to shorten the line before anchoring or docking, tie the bitter end to your anchoring gloves or fenders.
 
7. Docking 101 Newbie sailors Dave and Carol were practising docking their new 34' sailboat. Dave made an angled approach while Carol stood outside the pulpit, dockline in hand. As the bow reached the dock, Carol realized she could injure herself by landing on the tie rail so she turned her back to the dock and stepped off. At that moment, Dave turned the boat parallel to the dock, swinging the bow far enough away that Carol stepped into midair and...Splash! Fortunately, she was able to swim to a nearby ladder while Dave tied up the boat.

Tip: Stop the boat close enough to the dock that crew can step safely off from amidships or aft, never from the bow.

6. Not So Merry-Go-Round Jim, a BC kayaker, attempted to paddle through a tidal pass at high tide, which he assumed would be slack water. His assumption nearly proved fatal: he was caught in a school bus-sized whirlpool, which dumped him and his gear into the salt chuck. Hanging on to his kayak and paddling furiously with his feet through several revolutions, he managed to break free and make it to shore. When he related this story, I explained that high (or low) tide and slack current in tidal passes seldom coincide and can be more than an hour apart. Consult local Tide and Current Tables to determine when it's safe to transit a pass or rapids.

Tip: All boaters in Canadian coastal waters should have the local Tide and Current Tables and know how to read them. 

The Dumber

5. Ouch! On one of my cruise-and-learn courses, I explained to students the importance of securing the anchor hatch in the open position with the bungee cord provided. A few days later, Robert was raising the anchor with the electric windlass when wake from a passing yacht caused our boat to roll slightly, just enough to tip the hatch past vertical. Robert's hand was on the casing when the hatch slammed down on it. It was not a pretty sight. After providing first aid, I arranged for him to be transported to a local hospital where he was treated for severe cuts and a broken finger. Later, Robert admitted he had learned a lesson the hard way, “not exactly what I had in mind when I signed up for a cruise-and-learn.”

Tip: Make sure open hatches are secured when working around them.

4. Cardinal Rules In a popular BC anchorage, I noticed a large sailing yacht approaching the east side of a west cardinal buoy. Just as I thought “this is going to hurt,” the boat hit the submerged reef and came to rest at a rakish angle. The elderly skipper and his wife were uninjured and their steel hull was not leaking so, after helping them kedge off, I asked the skipper what the marker meant to him. “I thought it marked an isolated rock that I could pass on either side,” as he said he had done on previous occasions, obviously at higher tides. I suggested he become familiar with cardinal buoys, which are common in BC coastal waters: they use compass cardinal points to indicate where mariners will find deep water and safe passage around obstructions.

Tip: Boaters familiar with Nanaimo Harbour will know the buoy in question, labeled 'PS' and marking Satellite Reef, which dries at low tide. Stay west of PS.

3. Log Boom Rick was returning solo from a classic boat show in his restored 42' wooden powerboat. Proceeding on autopilot, he felt the urge to use the head so he scanned ahead for traffic and decided all was clear, then stepped below. It couldn’t have been more than four minutes before he heard a loud “boom.” Returning to the helm, he noticed a partly submerged log behind the boat which he had obviously hit. Fortunately, the hull was intact but his starboard engine was running roughly so he shut it down and limped home on one engine. Later, he discovered the log had badly damaged his starboard prop, which he replaced at a cost of $600. Rick told me, “It was a very expensive pee.”

Tip: If you have to leave the helm unattended for any reason, stop the boat. You can’t collide with anything when you’re not moving.
 
2. Shortcut to the Hard Most accidental groundings occur when the skipper is below and a crewmember decides to take a shortcut. Ken, a novice boater, made a beeline for the intended anchorage while the skipper was below searching for a chart. Crunch! The sailboat’s keel plowed onto a rocky shoal and the boat came to an abrupt stop. Aided by a rising tide and a passing powerboater who provided a deliberate wake, the skipper backed off and entered the anchorage through the safe channel. Ken said he had never fully appreciated, until that moment, “how much deep and shallow water look the same.”

Tip: Before leaving the helm, the skipper (or any other helmsperson) should provide course directions to the person taking the helm, especially when approaching waters that hide hazards.

The Dumbest

1. Shaken and Stirred Mary and Janet were good friends who decided to fulfill their lifelong dream of getting involved in boating. They began searching for a powerboat that would take them to popular destinations along the Inside Passage. They responded to an ad for a 32' cabin cruiser, old but well kept. As soon as they stepped aboard, they knew they had to have it. Their offer was accepted by the owner and, after an orientation on the boat’s systems, they motored for home. But they hadn’t had the boat surveyed, they had no boating knowledge or experience, and they hadn’t checked the weather. Why should they, they reasoned: this was a big solid boat and all they had to do was drive it home, about 30 miles across an open stretch of ocean. An hour out, the weather deteriorated, the sea turned rough and the engine quit. Although they were so seasick they could hardly talk, they managed to contact the coast guard who dispatched a rescue vessel which towed them to the closest marina. This incident could have had far more serious consequences, so Mary and Janet win this year's Boating 'Oops' Award. They have since taken boating courses through a Canadian Power and Sail Squadron and a cruise-and-learn on their own boat, enabling them to follow their dream in a more competent fashion.

Tip: Know before you go.

Thanks to those who shared their unfortunate experiences with me so that others can benefit from their mistakes. If you have done something equally dumb or even dumber, email me (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), describing the mishap and how it might have been prevented. Yes, we alter names to protect the responsible parties. Who knows: you just might qualify for a Boating 'Oops' Award next year!

Larry MacDonald is a freelance journalist from Powell River BC who writes about his sailing adventures in various cruising destinations. He enjoys teaching about his favourite pastime, in a classroom course for the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons or on a cruise-and-learn on a chartered sailboat.

Destinations

  • Prev
We’re gliding through green-blue waters, colours so vivid and bright they hurt your eyes. We’re set ...
The Halifax waterfront has been attracting more and more large yachts in recent years. However, a ...
Ah Canadian simplicity at its finest; small town, big marina. Little Hilton Beach (population ...
Vancouver-based Big Blue Yacht Charters Worldwide owner Emma Murdoch explains that luxury crewed ...
In the 1920s, a small cove in Canoe Bay was used as a shipping point and safe-haven for rum runners ...
Here’s an update from Caroline Swann with some news for the adventurous types who may be heading to ...
The New Glasgow marina is located about six miles up the East River of Pictou in the heart of the ...
The British Virgins took a huge hit last fall from Irma. Boats were stranded on the shore by the ...
Located about half way between Shediac and the Miramichi on New Brunswick’s Acadian Coast, the town ...
Suddenly the once forsaken city of Hamilton, Ontario is booming for at least two good reasons.

An Abacos Adventure

Great Guana CayBy Mark Stevens; Photos by Sharon Matthew-Stevens

It’s a perfect Sunday morning jaunt.

We’re gliding through green-blue waters, colours so vivid and bright they hurt your eyes. We’re set for a close reach out of a harbour guarded by a necklace of tiny emerald islands decorated by palms that dance in fifteen knots of wind.

Our boat, “Tropical Escape II” (perfect name for both the boat and our adventure), is a 44-foot Robertson and Caine catamaran, chartered from Sunsail’s Marsh Harbour base on Bahamas’ Great Abaco Island.

Read More about An Abacos Adventure...

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
Stuart Walker a legend in competitive sailing passed away on November 12, 2018 in Annapolis. Stuart ...
“In Grenada, we had about 80 cruiser kids visit our boat...by dinghy of course! Sometimes you ...
Austin Edwards told students and parents at the Saanich School’s “Parents as Informed Partners” ...
As the sole arbiter of the Photo of the Week I, your editor, get to make the choice. This week, ...
Michele Stevens pointed us to this interesting project which recently came to fruition in Cape ...
Our Photos of the week this time come from BC where our friend Rob Stokes sent us a very nice ...
Our little treasure: Montague (Monte) taken at Pirate's Cove in the Gulf Islands. Monte is a ...
It has been a long, hot summer here on Georgian Bay and we miss Adamant 1 terribly. We did manage ...
On Thursday last week, at age 88, Bruce Kirby has been invested into the Order of Canada for his ...
The Olympic Qualification Regatta is now being held in Aarhus Denmark with unlimited entries. That ...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives ...
Sometimes a great idea requires an encore, and French yacht builder Jeanneau got that with the ...
Tactical Custom Boats announces the sale to a North American client of a custom Tactical 77’ – Fast ...
Bruce Elliott is an inventor. And when he sold the technology he developed to build utility poles ...
One often asks of a winning achievement or a fabulous design, could it have possibly been done ...
The latest new model from Cruisers Yachts is the Cantius 42 and this yacht made its debut in the ...
The Sabre 45 Salon Express is new for 2017, making its debut at the Fort Lauderdale International ...
Jeanneau’s newest NC model is the NC 33, and it’s an exciting and innovative inboard cruiser ...
The Four Winns H290OB combines two of the most popular new big boat trends to come up with a great ...
Commodore’s Boats is a full service shipyard with over 50 years of generational history and ...

Hanse 388

Hanse 388By Katherine Stone

The Hanse group produced their second most popular boat of all time with the Hanse 385. The trick was to build on that winning formula when they upgraded to the Hanse 388, which they have done in spades. The German build quality is first rate and true to the Hanse tradition. Leaving the hull the same with a steep stern and straight stem for an optimal long water line, they went with a slightly stiffer, heavier displacement, new deck, interior layout and window line. Hanse’s highly experienced yacht construction team, judel/vrolijk & co., have combined ease of sailing, comfort and performance into the newly designed Hanse 388.

Read more about the Hanse 388...

 

 

 

Marine Products

  • Prev
Sail shape is long gone. They have stained, feels thin and you see broken threads everywhere. Your ...
Stripping the antifouling paint from the bottom of a boat is physically demanding and is one of the ...
The 2019 Ultimate Sailing Calendar highlights the drama and excitement of blue-water sailing, as ...
Weather nerds and boaters of all stripes will be absorbed by Bruce Kemp’s account of the monstrous ...
Canada Rope promises that its new Night Saver Rope will illuminate at night and act as a reference ...
Take a look as a 68-foot yacht docks itself in between two Volvo Ocean 65 sailing yachts at the ...
Industry Firsts Include Direct Injection and Integrated Electric Steering System
Verviers, Belgium, 18 May 2018 — Mercury Marine, the world leader in marine propulsion technology, ...
Again, we return to the beginning. We started this column with a look at marine navigation for ...
Ga-Oh (spirit of the winds in Algonquin) creates bags and other items from re-purposed sails.