A ROAR­ING SUR­PRISE

A child’s ex­u­ber­ance and a boater’s er­ror al­most lead to catas­tro­phe.

Boating - - I LEARNED ABOUT BOATING FROM THIS -

It was a warm sunny day, just per­fect for tak­ing my daugh­ter Lauren, my son-in-law Alex, and my 2-year-old grand­son Teddy out for a ride aboard my Co­bia 296. Our goal was to see the dol­phins that feed in the area of my sec­ond home, near Marco Is­land, Florida, and just en­joy an hour or so on the wa­ter.

As I care­fully pulled up to the dock at the Cax­am­bas Park pub­lic ramp, I could see Teddy wav­ing to me, anx­ious to get on board “Puppa’s” boat. The dock was on the same side as my steer­ing wheel, so rather than ty­ing up, I sim­ply strad­dled the gun­wale with one foot in the boat and the other on the dock. I left the boat idling.

Alex lifted Teddy and handed him to me, and I gen­tly set him down in the boat. Teddy im­me­di­ately went ex­plor­ing the boat, ask­ing, “What’s this?” mul­ti­ple times as Alex fol­lowed him around. I then asked Alex to fo­cus on get­ting the Blue­tooth on my stereo con­nected to my iPhone. He got right on it.

Sec­onds later, as I was help­ing Lauren into the boat, I heard a load roar from my en­gines and saw to my hor­ror that both en­gines were pulling the boat in re­verse while I was try­ing to hold our po­si­tion, still in my strad­dle. I thought I was go­ing swim­ming and the kids would be left alone in a boat pow­er­ing in re­verse.

I re­al­ized Teddy was at the helm and had reached up and pulled both throt­tles back as far as he could (as any 2-year-old would do). For­tu­nately, Alex was right there be­side him and quickly re­turned the throt­tles to the neu­tral po­si­tion.

It freaked me out! Cap­tain’s er­ror all the way! If Teddy had pushed the throt­tles in­stead of pulled them, there was no way I could hold the boat in my strad­dle po­si­tion, and it would have crashed into the sea wall 5 feet off the bow. Dis­as­ter averted.

I learned a valu­able les­son that day. From now on, I tie up at the dock be­fore any­one comes aboard, and I turn off the en­gines when any chil­dren are aboard and I leave the con­trols unat­tended.

Michael Carollo Good­land, Michi­gan

Wear­ing the kill-switch safety lan­yard can pre­vent sim­i­lar in­ci­dents by dis­abling the en­gines when­ever the skip­per leaves the helm for any rea­son. —Ed.

I re­al­ized Teddy was at the helm and had reached up and pulled both throt­tles back as far as he could (as any 2-year-old would do).

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