Even The Best Of Us

One of the many interesting and amusing letters we got in response to the "Light Up The Night" article came from ... the author. Dan Rutherford, who in his most self-deprecating moments refers to himself as "Captain America," wrote in to take himself to task just a few days after the July issue came out:

So there I was ... ME ... CAPTAIN AMERICA, surveyor, safe boater, accident investigator, boating safety instructor ... loading some guests (only two) onto my Zodiac RIB to head out to escort the fireworks barge for the Lower Township (Cape May, New Jersey) fireworks. Type III on each person on board. Horn, bell, flares, paddle, etc. Timecheck: It's about 2000 hours. I flick the switch on my nav lights and ... NOTHING. Not one of those little buggers lit up. So much for my own advice.

So I took the combination bow light apart. Just corrosion on the tips of the bulb. No problem. I whip out a piece of emery cloth and presto, working combination bow light. Then I head to the white all-round astern. Nothing. No way to fix. I tried everything, but the corrosion damage was so severe, it was a lost cause.

So, being the good Boy Scout (and safety nut), I reach into my pocket and pull out my Surefire flashlight. It has two settings: low, which is about 200 lumens, and high, which is 800 (very bright). I took a towel, wet it, folded it in half and then nestled the white light (on low) facing astern to cover my 135-degree stern arc. On went the amber flashing light for the escort and (drumroll, please) ta da! I'm legal.

I truly felt like one of the cobbler's children with no shoes. Today's job? Replace the stern light, buy spare bulbs, and complete a safety check on my own boat!

Dan's story just goes to show that bad stuff happens even to the best of us. Mix saltwater and metal and leave to season for months at a time, and problems will result. Your safety, and the safety of your crew, doesn't depend upon never having a problem. It does depend upon what you do to make sure everything is in working order before you leave the dock and, if it's not, what you do then. Dan didn't take the boat out without working lights. He found a solution before he set off.

Seaworthy is dedicated to using the BoatUS Marine Insurance claim files to let you learn from others' mistakes. But it works even better when readers write in to share their what-can-go-wrong stories and hard-earned wisdom. Sometimes the letter writer even happens to be the author of the article.em class="icon bus-buoy"> 

— Published: October 2014

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