‘Hidden risk of tender moments’
Like all of us, I’ve had my share of ‘interesting’ conditions under sail: storms, broaches, waves sweeping the deck. All terribly heroic. When I think about it, though, every occasion when I have been closest to going overboard has involved rather less dramatic scenarios – and a tender.
I’ve scrambled on all-fours onto a wet bathing platform while the dinghy skitters and a bucking boat tests my grip. I’ve lost my balance in a bit of a chop while handing the outboard to someone on deck. I’ve almost been flipped when caught out by a wave during a beach launch. There are a dozen others. The point is that, after successfully battling the weather under sail, we tend to see short hops by dinghy as trivial and riskfree when actually – for me at least – they have served up some of my diciest moments afloat. I’m sure it’s no coincidence, either, that many of these have been on trips back to the boat after a few drinks ashore, when my judgment may not have been at its sharpest.
The one that changed my perception of trips by tender followed an afternoon at MacCarthy’s Bar in Castletown Bearhaven and an evening with friends made during the afternoon. We were anchored no more than 30m away from our hosts and, relaxed as we certainly were, we didn’t feel the need to put on lifejackets for such a short trip despite noting that the wind had picked up a fair bit.
We paddled over to our boat where all three of us struggled to get a grip on the pitching stern. ‘This would be a rubbish way to die,’ said one of us, only half in jest.
Since then, if conditions are anything but flat calm, I wear a lifejacket for even the shortest hop by tender.
To reveal these risks, I’m delighted that Ken Endean has focused his forensic eye on how to improve our small boat seamanship (p18). He has analysed where the hidden dangers lie and how best to avoid them in a feature that will make safer those mundane, seemingly inconsequential journeys between boat and shore.
This is a serene scene, but we’ve all had risky moments in dinghies. Ken Endean explains what the risks are and how to avoid them