The Boat Flipped Over
Have you ever flipped a boat? Then tread water and clung to your vessel until help arrived? I have. I’m passionate about adventuring, but that experience was a bit different. My boat rolling episode occurred about thirty years ago, but I remember it vividly.
The water’s surface was not glass-like, but the small waves were negotiable for our 14’ aluminum fishing boat. I turned our craft away from the shoreline we had been following and headed out across the open section of the reservoir. The three of us; my wife, a friend, and I, were willing to try one more fishing h
ot spot before calling it a day and heading back to the boat ramp. While crossing the open section of the lake, it seemed like boats were coming out of nowhere. Many of them were pleasure boats cruising towards the buoys marked, “No Wake”. We were on the calm side of the no wake zone where I thought the lake crossing would be a safe one for our capable deep-vee boat.
Then I saw it coming. A black ski boat speeding our way and not slowing down. I told my partners to look at the idiot in the black boat. Could he not read the “No Wake” lettered on the buoys? The boat continued coming, I felt like running on the water to get out of its way. At the last second, the ski boat swerved away and created a huge wake just in front of our boat. Our boat dove into the hole created by the ski boat like a nose-diving duck. The three of us knew that we were in trouble and began grabbing what we thought was important and didn’t want to end up on the bottom of the lake. And then the boat rolled over.
Sadly, these accidents, or occurrences, don’t always result in the victim surviving to tell the story. Thanks to PFDs (Personal Floatation Device), a capsized boat or person overboard has a higher percentage of survival. No life jacket? Well, fate will tell. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, where cause of death was known, 80% of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of those drowning victims with reported life jacket usage, 83% were not wearing a life jacket. It is not just an opinion, it is a fact that most boating-related accidents are preventable and that boaters increase their chances of survival when properly wearing an approved life jacket. I see it all the time – paddlers and motor boaters alike, risking it all by being void of a flotation device on or at the ready.
The three of us were clinging to the capsized boat and waving at a passing boater who witnessed it. I could see the ski boat that caused us to flip and the driver looked at me as he drove away while laughing. Drunk or just an idiot, I don’t know as he wasn’t caught. Oh, if I could have gotten my hands on him. We were pulled from the water and our boat pulled to shore by the courteous pleasure boater and his friends. Once back to the boat ramp, angry, but happy no one drowned, we assessed the value of the tackle and other items that were lost and would never be retrieved. Although, the most valuable items we had in the boat that day were not lost – the three life jackets we were wearing that I still have today.
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