Maritime Mayhem

By Tom Neale, 6/23/2011


Tom Neale's logs have a new name and home on BoatUS Magazine. We know Tom has a loyal and devoted readership, so we wanted to share his tips and insights with an even bigger audience! For the latest articles, click here for Onboard With Tom Neale.

BREAKER BREAKER Help, Help, OK--SOMEBODY, I need some help out here. Can anybody hear me?

This is the US Coast Guard. What’s your location and the nature of your distress?

I’m right here by this crab pot float.

Do you have a lat long?

No but I’ve got a pair of pliers and a screw driver.

Accident waiting to happen. Fast boat with dangerous
wake approaching dive boat, with divers down.
What’s the nature of your distress?

I’m not depressed. I’m just sinking.

How much water is there in your boat?

I don’t know but my beer cooler is floating.

How fast is the water rising?

It’s going out. High tide was about an hour ago.

Can you tell where the water’s coming from?

It’s coming from the river. Well, one of my buddies just cut loose. Now it’s coming from him too. I wish he wouldna done that there.

Do you have a dewatering device aboard?

Yeah, my buddy I was just talking about has a good one.

Is there any beach nearby where you can ground her?

Don’t talk about my wife that way.

Can you throw over the anchor?

Yes. (pause and splash) OK I did it.

Is it holding?

I don’t know.

Well is the line tight?

I don’t know, that was tied to the anchor when I threw it over. I can’t see it now.

Do you see any other boats?

Yeah, they’re all over the place.

Can you shoot off a flare?

No, they were in the safety bag with the anchor.

Can you signal the other boats?

You mean can I yell at them? I don’t have to. One’s right here. That’s why I’m sinking. “Hey buddy, could you come back when you unstick your front from the side of my boat?”

How many POBs?

There are PWCs all over the place. But I left mine at home.

Sir, I mean how many POBs do you have onboard?

My PWC is too big to put in this boat. But if that guy driving that PWC over there looking behind him keeps coming this way I might have a PWC aboard real soon. But he might just jump on over us he’s going so fast. Wish he’d start looking this way.

OK, Sir, how many people do you have on the boat?

Uh, lemmee count here. (yelling) Can somebody help me count? Oh, OK. We have 6 now. Three of my friends just got off onto the boat that’s stuck in our side.

Congested area with fast boats zooming in all directions.
Have everyone put on PFDs.

I don’t wear PFDs. I wear Jockeys.

Can you describe your boat?

Well, it’s about 18 feet long.

What’s its color and what kind is it.

It’s red and blue and green and there’s some purple and a little pink with some silver sparkles here and there. And it has a hole in it where that other boat is.

How fast was this person going when he hit you?

He was anchored.

Anchored? Uh, what part of your boat did he hit?

The back part that was slinging around when I was showing my buddies how fast she could turn on a dime.

Do you have any injuries aboard?

Yeah. Ralphie has a hernia. Got it playing football.

Uh, is anyone in need of medical assistance?

Yeah. I could use a shot-----of tequila.

Are you a member of any towing service?

Yeah, roadside towing came with my new car.

I mean towing on the water.

Na, I don’t have that kind of car.

Would you like me to call a towing service for you?

Sure, but what I really need is a crowbar to get this other guy out of the side of my boat.

Is the other boat taking on water?

Naa. The big crunched up part on his bow is way above the water. Especially since everybody’s moved to the back. They’re not being very friendly.

Sir, we request that you remain on scene until one of our units or the Marine Police can reach you.

No problem there, the other guy’s already anchored and we’re stuck together like a tick on a houn’ dog.

Can you give me your boat registration number please?

AWW Gee. Do I hafta?

Sir, you’re required to provide that information. You’ll find it on your registration card.

I don’t have that. That’s in my pants that I left back on the beach which is the reason I was turning on a dime.

Then look at the numbers on your bow.

Uh, they kinda got messed up last weekend when I came in to the ramp and power rammed the boat up on the trailer and I got the wrong trailer.


OK, so there’s a little bit of poetic license in the above scenario, but it’s a collage of things I’ve heard or almost heard on the VHF over the years. Believe it or not, much of it didn’t need much embellishment. What happens on the water these days ranges from ridiculous to stupid, to the deadly and even to the macabre. I’m sure you’ve got your own stories to tell. I’ve deliberately omitted names of people and places and skewed the circumstances, but you hear this stuff far more than you want if you’re on the water enough.

Tom’s Tips About Not Getting Creamed On the Water

1. Never assume the other guy sees you…or that he’ll remember what he saw if he does see you.

2. Keep a 360 degree watch.

3. This includes looking behind and around you before you change course or speed.

Click Here for More Tips

And what worries me is that life jackets, personal locator beacons, Aps that do everything from telling you whether it’s raining to whether it rained a few minutes ago, online licensing courses and so much more, much of which is bureaucracy byproduct originated in government cubicles, aren’t going to make that much difference unless…

All of these things and more can make a huge difference and I’m not knocking anything that helps. But unless we lose the attitude that we should keep shoveling hordes onto the water who think that “out on the water” is a place where you don’t have to know what you’re doing except turn a key and that there are no rules (after all, there are no lines in the middle of the road out here) and where special skills aren’t required because, “Hey man, water is soft ya know,” it’s not going to get any better.

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