Help Your Fellow Boaters [SHBT]

As always, Stupid Human Boating Tricks from our very own Forums

Posted by Ensign “Home Cookin’”, 14 Dec 09
I was out at a bridge tunnel near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay Saturday after sunset (HRBT). Dark overcast moonless night; about 35 degrees; water temps about 50.

Saw two guys in a small jon boat with a trolling motor. When I was out by the first island, where it’s deep and swift, saw one of the guys paddling with an oar; they flashed a flashlight at me and paddled over, asked for a tow back to the beach. Battery was fine, they said; must be a short in the motor. I was a little reluctant both for selfish reasons and safety (2:1 in the dark) but they seemed OK and I figured it was easier to tow them than to call and wait for assist. There were lots of other boats around. So I put them in my boat, hooked up my ski harness to their bowline and pulled them to shore, all the way from the first island to the beach at the foot of the bridge–maybe 2+ miles? Luckily I had enough water (3′ at the lowest). Could not have done it at low tide.

Here is how they were rigged: 2 average sized guys, sweat shirts/jackets, no PFD’s on but orange ones on the floor, flashlight and running lights, mushroom anchor, one oar (not a paddle). 12′ Jon boat, dark green, trolling motor, maybe 4″ freeboard. The wind had come up to 10+ and the tide was running; I doubt the trolling motor would have gotten them back if it had worked, especially if the wind came up more–it gets breezy and choppy there even when it’s calm elsewhere about 3 hours after sunset. If they had drifted 75 yards away from the bridge away from the lights, they would not have been seen to signal for help. I’m sure they didn’t have a radio. That anchor would not have held them (unless they had another).

They probably don’t read this board and those who do don’t need to be told they were close to a fatal disaster. Pretty much consumed my whole fishing for the weekend as I only had that short time to go out and had to head in shortly after my playing seatow. But it was my Good Deed of the Day, and I firmly believe in the old school prospect that one boater is obliged to help out another.

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