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
Following the harsh impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, The British Virgin Islands is making an ...
For the adventurous boater Bunsby Marine Provincial Park is a special place, situated due south of ...
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 ...

Thornbury on Georgian BayJennifer Harker

To borrow a line from Monty Python, “and now, for something completely different”.

Normally, our boating adventures are spent weaving our way amongst the picturesque backdrop of the 30,000 Islands of eastern Georgian Bay aboard our Sea Ray Sundancer 268. This time we’ve traded power for sail as friends welcome us aboard their 38-foot Irwin for the Canada Day long weekend.

We’ve set our sights on a decidedly different destination for this journey, charting a course for Thornbury. This small town, located in the southern reaches of Nottawasaga Bay, is an oft-overlooked area of Georgian Bay - but it shouldn’t be. Although we’ve explored this shoreline on countless road trips, this will be our first visit from the waterside.

Read more about the Thornbury on Georgian Bay...

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
My husband and I were visiting the Bra d'Or Lake from Newfoundland in our 39 foot Sea Ray ...
After an autumn in Canada, we arrived back in northern Florida at Adamant 1 on January 3rd and with ...
This issue, to kick off 2019, we have an unofficial Photo of the week and this, the unofficial ...
Readers give us a bit of feedback on the 60th anniversary of the Shark 24
We are home for Christmas this year. Soon we will be heading back to Adamant 1 for another winter ...
This past October we drove to Telegraph Cove with friends and spent a day of wonder cruising the ...
We have kept our subscription to Canadian Yacht Onboard as we have traveled the South Pacific over ...
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” ...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
I have heard a lot of talk lately about trends in yacht clubs where senior membership is getting ...
To get you in the mood for cruising the Boat Show then launching in spring, here’s a boat that ...
Quite simply, the styles of boats have changed. Where in past years a buyer might have been looking ...
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 ...

Cruisers Yachts Cantius 46The Cantius 46 is the latest evolution of Cruisers Yachts’ Cantius line – now there are five models from 42 to 60 feet. The new Cantius 46 is a great example of “easy boating” the way Volvo Penta imagined it and how Cruisers Yachts has executed it. The idea is that you just come on board, unlock the glass doors, fire it up, cast off, and enjoy - alone, with a spouse, or with a huge group.

Since the first Cantius model was introduced, Cruisers Yachts has continued to refine the concept for ever-greater convenience, more clever and innovative features, and also greater performance.

Read more about the Cantius 46...

 

 

 

 

Sun Odyssey 410By, Zuzana Prochazka

The revolution continues – with a twist

The Jeanneau 410 is the eighth generation of the Sun Odyssey line, but even with that long history and umpteen years of tweaks and iterations, what the French builder has done in the latest revamp will make you say, “Wait, what?”

 Last year, Jeanneau turned the sailboat deck layout on its ear with the introduction of their Sun Odyssey 490 and 440, and the concept of the ‘walk-around deck’.

Read More about the Odyssey 410...

 

 

 

Marine Products

  • Prev
You most likely operate your vessel with batteries that are rechargeable. Rechargeable batteries ...
This past decade has been a real up-and-down ride for the companies who make boating equipment. ...
Making it’s global debut at the Toronto International Boat Show the new Mercury 5hp Propane ...
Most of us have heard of fuel additives, whether it be for gasoline or diesel. But which one to ...
While the basics of boat hull design hasn’t changed that much over the years, the same cannot be ...
Yamaha targets the Canadian big-water market with its high-torque 425 horsepower V8 XTO outboard, ...
Looking for a great Christmas gift for the Offshore sailor on your list? This being a Marblehead to ...
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 ...