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Thread: Dumbest mistakes while on the water

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    Default Dumbest mistakes while on the water

    I was thinking of all the rookie mistakes I have made in the past on the salt water and thought it might be good to share them to help prevent others (newbies or not) from duplicating. Of course I shouldn't assume anyone would be dumb enough to pull off my stunts, but it could happen....
    One of the most memorable was out of Clam Gulch in a 14' skiff with a worn out 9.5 hp kicker. There were swinger tides and we were around 3 miles out seeking some halibuts. According to my GPS, we were drifting at a little over 4mph thanks to currents from tide change. Normally, our setup could travel at 8 mph on flat seas with a breeze to our backs. If we ran into thecurrent, we could make 4mph on this day. If we sat and fished, drifting for a couple hours, it would take us a long time to get back to our starting point(camp). Well, this is no big deal I thought... Since we are in around 90' of water, I will just toss out our anchor with the 150' of rope tied to the bow. When the anchor grabbed, we swung around and pulled the rope tight. It looked as if we were in a fast moving river suddenly. I knew we were in trouble because I had read stories about this very thing happening as our bow started getting pulled downward from the strong current. In a split second, I remembered our knives were inaccessible to cut the line. My buddy frantically grabbed the line and when the bow had around 1.5" of freeboard left, the anchor released it's grip. Luckily we pulled it up quickly and learned a quick lesson or two. The end, for now.

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    Member Cliffhanger's Avatar
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    Not a rookie mistake, unless you count it being a new boat at the time:

    I was bringing a full boat of 6 passengers across the bay the first summer I has Skookum. There was a gale wind and 5-6 foot seas coming from the north, and a big tide moving into the bay. We broke out from inside the islands and started to make the crossing to the Homer Spit.

    "No trouble", I thought because my boat can take "anything Kachemak Bay can throw at it", to quote my boatbuilder. However, those 5-6 footers were SO stacked up against the incoming tide, that every time we rose over one, the bow would bury in the following wave. I watched as the water began to fill my bow well, which does have scuppers, but as we got out into the bay, the water level climbed and it was clear the scuppers were not going to keep up with the water.

    I probably had 100 gallons of water in the bow before I made the decision to turn around. Up to that point we were moving along pretty comfortably with half the passengers seated and the others standing. They were whooping and hollering because they thought this was fun! Then I told them we were going to have to turn around.

    I pivoted on the top of a wave and as we swung around all the water in the bow moved to the port side of the bow and the boat laid over, I'm guessing, at 60 degrees at least. It got r-e-a-l-l-y quiet all of a sudden, except for me shooting "no, no, NO!" as I turned the wheel all the way to the right, left the throttle untouched, and prayed Skookum would right itself before we got it by the next wave broadside.

    We did right in time and feathering the throttle with the following sea to control the yawing as we surfed down the waves, the boat, which has watertight compartments throughout, slowly rose up and the scuppers started to work. By the time we got back to our destination, we were scooting along at 25kts and all was good.

    I called my boatbuilder and asked him, "What the f#* was that?" He never said the word "faulty". He said "that's one of the 'limitations' of a bow well. We can always make your scuppers bigger (we did), but in those conditions you have to be aware of what's happening in your well and be ready to turn around."

    Good advice which I have taken to heart. I have had a repeat of those conditions, but then again, I haven't gone out in a gale since then. One time on the way back from Augustine Volcano we did have to fight our way through a gale and 8-10 foot seas, but they were so far apart we could ride up quartering them and never got into trouble.

    The other thing I think I did wrong that day is I had my trim tabs and engine trimmed too far down (to try to make the ride less bouncy for my passengers) and that certainly contributed to the bow burying itself. Another lesson learned that day.

    My new motto after that episode? "Whatever helps you learn a lesson on the water, and it doesn't kill you, is vital knowledge".

  3. #3

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    Watched a guy with a hung anchor tie off the line to his stern, then goose it to free the anchor. Pulled the stern under faster than he could back off the throttle. Saw much the same thing when a guy anchored from the stern in a strong current.

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    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    Watched a guy with a hung anchor tie off the line to his stern, then goose it to free the anchor. Pulled the stern under faster than he could back off the throttle. Saw much the same thing when a guy anchored from the stern in a strong current.
    didn't someone pay the full price for that trick, 15 or 20 yrs ago off of Anchor Pt/deep creek??

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    Member chico99645's Avatar
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    Summer of 2011 weather was nice but forecasted to turn bad in late afternoon early evening. Was out at Cheval Straits trolling with about 30 boats. About 1 PM or so, it was pretty slow so my son and I pulled into Agnes cove and tied off on a bouy and had some hot lunch played a few card games and relaxed for about 1.5 hours. I did notice that the winds were picking up and blowing over the tops of the trees as we could hear it, but since were so protected it didn't click that the forecasted weather was upon us. What a MORON!!! After we were done relaxing, I untied and went to go finish trolling as we were short one fish each for a limit. Everyone was gone except for 2 other boats. One was about 30 feet with wide beam and other was a hewescraft 26 if I remember correctly. I started to cross but got the crap scared out of me and when I turned, I almost got rolled over. I say they were 8-10 footers at least with breaking whitecaps and the the winds were 40 plus at pilot rock. One of the two boats hailed me and asked where I had come from and I told them Agnes cove and I was heading back there to tie up and that they had 3 bouys to tie off on. They followed. We hung out until early evening and the largest boat said he was going to peak outside and make a run for it if it looked ok. It was still blowing like heck. He said he was leaving and asked if anyone wanted to follow. My son and I put on our life jackets and got the ditch bag ready. We both decided to follow with me in trail. We stayed very close one behind the other. What took 25-30 minutes to get to Caines head at best took us about 2 hours if I remember correctly. I was scared sh**less to say the least. Waves in the trough were breaking hard and way above my cabin most of the way. Got my share of green water and the bildge was on most of the time. The scuppers on the bow were working fine. Once we got to Caines Head it was just a good pounding chop. The only reason I went was my wife was heading into town to catch up with me and I didn't want her to worry about us. STUPID!!!! Had we stayed, it would have been a 2 day camping trip as it never let up. I had plenty of food and we could have played several hundred cribbage games. The thing I did learn was that my boat is alot tougher than I will ever be. I will never do that again as long as I have good protection. I don't think my son and I said one word the entire trip. He had hold of of the Holy Sh*t Bars and I was gripping the wheel.

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    Duck hunting a narrow channel of a big bay where water rushes in during flood and rushes out on the ebb, we rafted with a 8hp outboard and parked in side slough of the the channel and had some great hunting, the water was rushing out so loaded the raft up 4 guys and a dog, the max for the raft, and idled out to the moving water as the current hit us broadside it pushed the side of the raft under! I yelled to everyone not to move and angled to the other side with the current and told everyone to bail onto the beach. Calm day the max laod is fine in strong current light, very light load is best when entering a channel with strong current.
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old John View Post
    didn't someone pay the full price for that trick, 15 or 20 yrs ago off of Anchor Pt/deep creek??
    I'm not sure about it, but I believe someone lost their life in either that accident or another one. I'll bet it happens a lot more than we hear about (the anchoring mistake---not the loss of life).
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    Member JR2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old John View Post
    didn't someone pay the full price for that trick, 15 or 20 yrs ago off of Anchor Pt/deep creek??
    More than once if I recall correctly. I have been fishing out of there since I was just a little boy and have seen more than a few people come out on the loosing end of anchoring off the stern. There should be a knife on ever boat that is kept very hand and used for cutting the anchor line if necessary. It should not be used for anything else and hopefully will never get used.
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  9. #9

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    I had a hauntingly similar trip as Cliffhanger.

    My wife (at the time) and I bought a 16' Hewescraft Riverrunner many years ago and in one of our first trips down to Homer with our new boat we were a bit confounded when we got down here and there were about 4 ft. seas out on K-Bay. We talked to someone either at Ulmer's or the Sport Shed and they told us that on rough days like that the best thing to do was to head for "The Islands" and troll for kings in protected waters.

    So we headed across the bay and had absolutely no problem getting across. But when we were done fishing for the day we headed out past Anisom Pt. into stormy conditions that actually were bad enough that we couldn't even see the end of The Spit. But we knew what direction we had to go on our compass and headed across. Unfortunately before we even knew what was happening the waves went from just a few feet to ones where in the bottom of the trough of one we couldn't even see over the crest of the next wave coming in.

    We quickly turned tail and slipped in behind Lancashire Rock and into the protection of Neptune Bay and just sat there for about half an hour. Being the "rookies" that we were with the ways of K-Bay we "thought" that things had calmed down a bit because it didn't look THAT bad from inside Neptune, so we headed out again. And before we knew it, once again, we were in waves that I would conservatively estimate looking back on it to have been at least 7' to 8' or so. At the worst they were actually breaking over the bow of our little 16' Riverrunner and smashing into the windshield, and like Cliffhanger's experience, filling the front well up with water each time. When we were in the trough of one we were actually looking UP through the windshield at the crest of the next wave coming. They were that big.

    Once again, being the "rookies" that we were, we figured since we were already in it and heading that way the best course of action would be to just try and make it back to The Spit even though we couldn't actually see it at the time. Fortunately for us the waves had at least a little bit of space between them so we would point the bow into a wave as it hit us, it would break over the windshield and fill up the bow well, then as soon as we possibly could we'd turn the boat into the trough and power full throttle 20 or 30 ft., then turn into the next wave, repeating the process time after time. I don't remember why, but my wife was actually driving the boat and I was acting as "lookout" and when I decided it was the critical moment that we needed to get headed into the wave instead of it hitting us broadside, I'd yell "WAVE!!!" and my wife would turn quickly and we'd plow through that one, too.

    I don't know how we did it, but eventually we could see the sawdust pile that was the big "geographical feature" at the end of The Spit at the time and we slipped in behind the shadow of The Spit and made it back into the harbor. I can honestly say that it is the one time in my life I actually was worrying about dying in my boat.
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    Sponsor potbuilder's Avatar
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    I hope folks are seeing the pattern here ??? Kinda makes ya think about all those "ocean boats" they are marketing ?? and folks are buying.
    small boats
    open bows with wells
    scuppers to small
    no self bailing decks
    unsealed decks that lets water fill up the bilge

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    Anyone that has an open bow boat with a well that they take onto the ocean should either build a removable plywood cover or have an aluminum one built to keep from getting green water in the bow. If you typically put an ice chest in the bow you could cut a hole in the cover that the ice chest will fit in leaving the rest of the bow covered.

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    Member homerdave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbchf View Post
    Anyone that has an open bow boat with a well that they take onto the ocean should either build a removable plywood cover or have an aluminum one built to keep from getting green water in the bow. If you typically put an ice chest in the bow you could cut a hole in the cover that the ice chest will fit in leaving the rest of the bow covered.
    Thats an awfully good idea!
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    Quote Originally Posted by potbuilder View Post
    I hope folks are seeing the pattern here ??? Kinda makes ya think about all those "ocean boats" they are marketing ?? and folks are buying.
    small boats
    open bows with wells
    scuppers to small
    no self bailing decks
    unsealed decks that lets water fill up the bilge
    I was hauling some freight in a landing craft From Homer to Tutka Bay. I had to turn arould three of four times because the location and size of the scuppers were to small and in the wrong location! The scuppers were fine with no load, but with a load the bow was down and water coming around the door was flooding the deck putting the bow down more. See where this is going, glad I did too! I have not ran that boat with a load again, and will not untill it if fixed! The fix ,bigger scuppers and two more added on each side one mid deck, and one forward!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MGH55 View Post
    I was hauling some freight in a landing craft From Homer to Tutka Bay. I had to turn arould three of four times because the lacation and size of the scuppers were to small and in the wrong location! The scuppers were fine with no load, but with a load the bow was down and water coming around the door was flooding the deck putting the bow down more. See where this is going, glad I did too! I have not ran that boat with a load again, and will not untill it if fixed!
    Yeah, I think the "key word" here is "good scuppers" (though I guess that's two words!). I have great scuppers and the few times I've been out where I've gotten lots of water in my bow pit I've never had a problem with it draining quickly and properly. Also, a good degree of forethought is a pretty necessary ingredient. The thread is about "dumbest mistakes" and since the day I did what I did I've learned a VERY healthy respect I didn't have then.

    And I really like kbchf's idea, too. Could be a blessing in disguise if you just happened to get in that situation where it would become a problem without it.
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    Not my idea just passing it along.

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    No plug in my 16' boat beyond Bear Glacier. After about 15 minutes into the drift it sure seemed like we had lost alot of freeboard. Looked in the inspection hatch and had in excess of 300 gallons of water in there. With the bilge pump and the plug hole being the same size all I could do was slowly plow along towards the shore line and eventually find the spare plug and install it once the majority of the water was out. I made that sound easy but with a V-hull and bad threads on the plug it took about 20 minutes of true effort and a very wet head/torso.

    Silly boy.

    I`ve had 2 hairball big water days in one boat that doesn`t really belong out there...both cases were traveling into an area where the seas were building and then getting caught up in them with nowhere to go for the short term. When you are duck diving under waves and green water is over the pilothouse you wish for much more than a 24' aluminum that doesn`t self bail...both times were very deadly situations.


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    I believe almost all of my dumb mistakes have to do with fog. When I first started boating, on more than one occasion either I headed into fog when I didn't really have to, or I went out when it was supposed to get foggy (which it eventually did). No OH SH** moments, but very stressful ones. Especially in high-traffic areas, without a radar, and hoping that others in the area hadn't made the same mistake as me.

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    I was fishing on the Yetna River by Lake Creek, anchored back trolling for kings a couple years ago. One of those big landing craft type boats with what looks like 10 motors that deliver cargo went screaming by out in the middle of the river. My mistake was not paying enough attention to the huge bow wave. It really rocked the boat, almost but my buddy overboard and the outside rail went under. It didn't fill the boat but we did have to bail. The boat behind and about 10 yards in got pushed up on the bow wave and deposited almost on top of the boat next to it. Have no clue why there weren't major injuries on that one. No an ocean mistake put it sure taught me to watch for those landing craft.

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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    First trip out on our new to us searunner last summer. Out of seward. Sent the boy after a bear. I shut the main engine off when I touched shore. The swells didn't "look" bad - I was being complacent and watching my son instead of minding the boat. Next wave/swell turned me sidways into the shore, next one came over the transom. Next one did too. Then my boy (and uncle) saw what was happening - they pushed me out a bit - I got the kicker started and commenced with the bilge. Almost lost it. Not life threatening though.

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    Rookie mistake #1 for me...not wearing my life jacket. On Res Bay years ago, I was out on the bow of my boat (20 ft Hewescraft) stowing my anchor. I didn't see the wave coming and when it hit, I was caught off balance and over the side I went. I grabbed the bowrail on the way over so I'm hanging onto the rail with one hand, and holding onto the anchor chain with the other. I had one of may passengers "tie" off the anchor...actually, she wrapped the line around the capstan, but didn't tie a knot. For the next 5-10 minutes I struggled to try climb back up on the bow, which I just couldn't do. Only after about 10 minutes of being in the water, and after I was completely exhausted, did I figure out that it would be a good idea to put on my life jacket, as well as finding another way into the boat. Certainly there were multiple mistakes made in this incident (I didn't have a plan for how I would get back in the boat, I didn't have dry clothes on the boat etc. etc. etc) but #1 was that I wasn't wearing my life jacket...and that mistake has never, and will never be made again!!!


    Stupid move #2 - going into the fog. Again, many years ago on the first day of the Silver Derby, we left Seward harbor in thick fog...maybe 30 ft visibity, navigating by GPS. Even though we were moving slowly, I quickly got way more focused on watching for hazards (boats, logs etc) and way less focused on the GPS. At some point I noticed that we were crossing wakes at a 90 degree angle, which didn't make sense. I actually said out loud, "why are there boats going east and west, they should all be going south?"...then I looked at the GPS and realized, the only boat going west was us, and we were headed directly at Lowell Point! Lessons learned: #1) If visiblity sucks, leave the boat on the trailer. #2) If you get caught in low vis situations, navigation is a multiple person job...with eyes on the water and eyes on the instruments at all times. #3) There aint a fish in the ocean worth dying for!!

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