Saturday, January 23, 2010

Boat Handling

With strong winds and lots of waves I hung onto the rub rails of our little "fatty knees" dingy as  Don navigated us back out to our boat. the last thing on God's earth I want to do is fall in this water. We are nearly the furthest mooring form the marina so our boat ride is 10 - 15 minutes each way.   I could see a huge boat that looked like it was on top of ours from the distance. As we got closer we could see this 48 foot boat trying to pick up the mooring next us.  Our neighbor, Blair was in his dingy trying to help them by looping their line through the mooring  - Don and I got up on to our boat and couldn't believe the size of this boat now just feet away from us, the captain clearly not able to skillfully handle the boat. As Blair looped the line the captain immediately put his boat in revers at about 5 knots  - WAY to fast - then he would go forward fast again right towards Blair. Oh dear - it is difficult in a heavy wind  - there were 2 questions - why is this huge boat on the mooring next to us? Why do these inexperienced people have such a big boat? The marina has the moorings organized so that when we swing if there is no wind to pull us back we won't hit each other - the 30 - 36 ' boats in one line   the 36' - 42' in another line and so forth.  Blair finally go them on the mooring and stopped by our boat. Apparently we had missed some of the frightening boat handling of this older couple on a million dollar yacht. The wife was frightened and didn't know what to do. They had onwed the boat 2 days. Ironically Chapman's piloting school is right here in Stuart .

Don called out and asked them to try to  pull the slack out of the mooring line but we could still see this boat was going to be terribly close to us.  I suggested we call the marina on the phone - we did and they confirmed the captain was on the wrong mooring.  We have marine radios. Channel 16 is hailing and distress station only. you call the marina on 16 and he will answer and get you to switch stations leaving channel 16 open for emergencies. When the marina called back to this captain he said go to 69 - so the captain went to mooring # 69.  After our phone call we could hear the marina calling the boat and they did not know how to use their radio - Don had to go on the bow and shout to them that they were being called on 16 and then to change to 69. So.... now - the wind still howling - they have to move - Blair went out yet again in  his dingy and we swear this captain nearly killed him.  He would race up to the mooring ball - the minute Blair had it looped he would race in reverse not giving his wife a chance to cleat the line.  Blair fell and nearly went overboard - he finally had to shout at them instructions of what to do.  This is all frightening and worth blogging about because we have a lot of fun out here but handling a boat is serious business. People can get very hurt, property can be unnecessarily damaged. We all have a responsibility to know the rules of the road, to know how to use the radio. These floating things, large and small can be difficult to move, to park, to stop - it's not like a car - it takes practice and we have all had bad dock landings and we have all made mistakes but it frightens us all that these 2 older people are leaving today and heading for Texas.  They will go west through the Okochobee - they will learn a lot and we just hope the only thing they damage is their boat. ~~~~ As they were leaving this morning I heard Blair on the radio - I popped my head out to see them nearly on shore - Blair warning them that they were in very shallow water - oh my .... from the mooring to the channel is just a few hundred feet - off the go - So while I'm at it don't text and drive and please learn how to handle your boat and please observe no wake zones for all of us.

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