Ever seen a parked car by the side of the road with the hazard lights flashing, and just driven past? The rules of the sea are slightly different and generally speaking, if someone is in distress then you have to help if you can unless it would place you or others in unreasonable danger.
If you see a boat getting thrashed against the rocks you don’t have to dive in and risk your life – but if someone needs a helping hand and it doesn’t put you at risk you need to do the right thing.
I’ve had my boat for about 6 months, and I have needed assistance in non-emergency situations twice.
So one day, I discovered that the fuel gauge in my boat isn’t quite accurate. I discovered this racing along at full pelt towards the end of a nice summer’s day. All of a sudden, the engine lost power and we came to a halt. Nothing we could do would get it started, despite us having “quarter of a tank” of fuel left. Then we noticed that the fuel primer didn’t actually have any fuel in it. 6pm , floating on the water – still nice and light, but not many people around.
Flop the anchor over the side to avoid the situation getting worse (worse = drift from the nice deep water onto rocks), called the wife and told her that I’d be a little late, and waited until we saw a boat come by. We was running in a new engine – but one of us jumped aboard, and he allowed us to collect some spare fuel which got us back in nice and safe. Since then, I always carry a spare can of fuel – and I know when my fuel gauge says 1/4 it really means “none”.
This one hurts to type We were racing along the bay, playing/practicing nice swooping emergency stops. I accidentally clunk the motor from forward to reverse (instead of neutral) at full throttle. The motor objects by instantly stopping and refusing to turn over. My finely engineered gearbox was instantly converted to a collection of shrapnel. Rats.
After convincing my mate that yes, the engine was broken, and no, I hadn’t sneakily flicked a switch somewhere, and yes, we are floating in the middle of the bay we needed to get help.
We managed to attract the attention of a couple of fisherman using the V-Sheet (a big red banner used to attract attention) who towed us in to the ramp. I tried to offer up some cash for their trouble, at least to get a case for after their fishing trip – but they wouldn’t hear of it – “Keep your money mate, today’s been expensive enough“. Boy were they right.
They told me of a time when they had engine problems at night, and were helped by “a bunch of army blokes in cammo gear on a dingy. Mate, it happens to all of us at one time or another, happy to help”
Someone is always there to help you on the water, now I am looking forward to returning the favour – and refusing the money - when someone else needs help. The boating community is definitely a friendly one.
Copyright © 2011 - Mike Nash - All rights reserved.