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Old 26-10-2007, 21:10   #1
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So, I almost killed myself again

Long story short, I fell in while tying up. I was wearing 3 layers everywhere, foulies and seaboots. It was very late, a commercial fishboat dock, and no one responded to my calls for help. There were no ladders; I checked the next day and there really are no ladders at all on that dock.
  1. I don't care how macho you think you are, trying to do a pull up fully clothed with boots from the water is vanishingly unlikely.
  2. Cold water really does sap your strength within minutes.
  3. Panic can overwhelm you.
I was eventually able to get a leg into the dinghy, and from there onto the dock. After finish tying up and putting away the boat, I went below and got dry and was asleep almost immediately. That was the nearest I've come to dying in a very long time.



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Old 26-10-2007, 21:15   #2
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Glad you are okay.

I have always kinda wondered why more marine facilities like marinas don't put in emergency ladders for just that reason. The Army Corps in the next city over has ladders for this purpose. I guess it will take a lawsuit where someone actually drowns for these ladders to be installed in marinas.

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Old 26-10-2007, 21:16   #3
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It is a regular thing in our harbor to find floaters that couldn't get back on the dock. Would be nice if they would put a couple of ladders in.
Having been there and done that, a few hours rest and a stiff drink usually helps.
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Old 26-10-2007, 21:51   #4
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Glad you are ok. Hypothermia is pretty quick up North. Sure is a shock, eh?
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Old 26-10-2007, 22:26   #5
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Last christmas I was sitting the cockpit of my little boat enjoying watching the world go by in a very small cove. There was a couple of other boats in there all doing the same thing. People where jumping in the water to cool off due to the extreme temps. Next thing a gentleman swam over. Now this is not uncommon becuse my boat is uncommon and people simply like to have a look and chat. Turns out not in this case. The gentleman had jumped in the water gone for a swim and simply found he didnt have the strength anymore to get himself back on board...even with his wifes help. He had been able to for years but age finaly caught up ! Now in this case he wouldnt of drowned but he also simply couldnt get back on board his boat (which was on anchor) without the help of my dingy. makes ya think.......
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Old 27-10-2007, 05:23   #6
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A simple looped line hanging from your transom would solve the problem. I keep one coiled on my stern platform for just such emergencies. A friend with a CSY44 had a commercial emergency ladder in a bag attached to the toe rail with a line hanging to the water. One sharp tug and the bag opened and the ladder fell to the water.
Planning for such contingencies is a far better approach to personal safety than expecting someone else (marinas) to plan for us.

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Old 27-10-2007, 07:37   #7
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If you survive the first time you're always extra careful after that. A few years ago I crossed Lake Oneida in weather I should not have. Heavy rain, blowing hard from the east, whipping up head seas in a 20 mile lake that's about 20 feet deep at its best. This lake is part of the Erie Canal and my mast was lashed on deck. The mast is lashed well to prevent side motion but I had to add more to prevent fore and aft motion because of the severe pitching. Anyway to my great relief we got across without incident and went to tie up to a wall. I stepped ashore with a line and found myself in the water. The wall had a section of large steel pipe on the end like quarter round and I must have slipped on that in my boots. I fell between the wall and boat and my biggest worry was that I'd be crushed against the wall. Luckily two locals on the other side of the canal saw me disappear and came tearing over the bridge in their pick-up. They helped haul me out. I was hanging on to a ladder. They offered to take me to the hospital but I thought I had only hurt my knee so I declined. The next day my ribs really ached, I guess I hit those on the way down too. I blamed the accident on fatigue (with the mast down I had no dodger so was exposed to the wind and rain) and the fact that I had listened to my wife and crossed on a day that I should have stayed tied up at the other end. My wife blamed it on my fisherman sea boots and threw them out. I think the real cause was haste in tying up after a real rotten four and a half hours pounding, worrying about losing the mast. In any event I have not forgotten that incident and always take extra care now when hopping ashore with a line. Live and learn.
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Old 27-10-2007, 08:42   #8
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Glad your OK Amgine. Must say I've thought about it and want to have some way that I can lower the swim ladder on my boat from the water. I'll have to move that up on the list.
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Old 27-10-2007, 12:50   #9
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Get a good partial immersion jacket, from Mustang.
Get a inflatable jacket.

Use em especialy when you are alone.
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Old 27-10-2007, 13:27   #10
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I decided to jump in to cool off in Gito, Cuba. The shock between the air temp and the water sapped my strenght. I quess I was 19 at the time. It was very difficult to climb out of the water wearing long pants and a shirt. I can not imagine falling in the cold water of Canada. Glad your okay.

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Old 27-10-2007, 19:03   #11
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Glad to hear it worked out allright. Scary thing. I had a similar thing happen last time I was water skiing. We had an overloaded and underpowered ski boat that drug me around below planning speed for 40 minutes. I finaly gave up on getting up and when I went to board the boat, I almost did not have the strength to haul myself up the first step. Had to float behind the boat for a few minutes to get my energy level up.

More recently I had another scare. I was single handing yesterday to charge the batteries and had the gennie set, the motor running and auto driving. I went forward to stowe the dock lines and a wake from a bum boat caught me off guard and I almost went in the drink. Grabbing the starboard shrouds and making a pirrouette around them was all that saved me.

It would have been real embarassing to have the boat under power and sail drive with perfect grace into the shore somewhere...

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Old 27-10-2007, 21:02   #12
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Amgine Glad to hear you're alright. I did much the same thing and was stiff and sore for days after. I was amazed at how quickly the cold water saps your strength. Jesse
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Old 28-10-2007, 10:51   #13
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Originally Posted by Amgine View Post
I was eventually able to get a leg into the dinghy, and from there onto the dock.
Glad you are Ok, the difference between survival or not can be disturbingly small / simple...........

I have never fallen in (That is tempting fate!) but more than enuf close shaves, mostly involving docking / mooring up.....the closest I have come to struggling to haul myself up a ladder to board a boat at sea is when Scuba Diving, me not being very fit taught me that a tank and gear must be pretty similar to dealing with the weight of wet oliskins and when very tired and cold not as easy as it seems......we all have different limits, but no matter how fit / strong we are all can surprisingly quickly reach our own physical limits.

On related issue, when a kid (and not being much of a swimmer, albeit not afraid of the water) I used to often swim (or bob around!) with a bouyancy aid or inflated life jacket - the usual MO was to get into the inflatable dinghy and then climb onboard the boat.......with a Life Jacket or Bouyancy aid climbing into an inflatable dinghy at sea is not as easy as it first seems - due to having a double D cup / beer gut to deal with - you need to expend some "oomph" and this is not in limitless supply.......maybe something to practice on a sunny day at anchor given the technique would be similar to boarding a Life Raft from the sea?
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Old 28-10-2007, 11:19   #14
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We have two swim ladders that we leave the lines ready to deploy the ladder but we also invested in a ladder designed for dinghies. It is absolutely a life saver. There is a "young man" in Ft. Myers Florida that makes them all stainless steel tubing with telescoping sections. We can now easily and safely board our dinge even after a long swim or snorkle. They come with all the mounting brackets/hardware and work on any style dinghy. Ours is a 10ft. Zodiac with a Honda 4HP so not a lot of room for boarding ladders usually seen in stores. Check it our at Amagansett Beach & Bicycle Co.
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Old 07-11-2007, 10:01   #15
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me too!

Hi Amgine

First and foremost, let me say how glad I am to hear that you survived this experience. Even in nice weather the waters in and around Vancouver are cold. Falling in at the dock is tremendously scary. You are fortunate that all worked out well. We moor at Sewells in Horseshoe Bay, and I know the cold from experience.

This past September when my daughter and I were removing gear from our boat, I was carrying one of the V-berth cushions out to the dock. I could not see my feet while walking down the finger, and I was slightly off balance so you can guess what happened.

After the initial shock of hitting the water wore off, I called for my daughter to give me a hand, with the cushion if nothing else. She didn't hear me the first time, but came quickly when I called the second time. She said "when I heard the panic in your voice I knew it was serious".

The scariest thing was when she said I had fallen in so quietly that she didn't even hear a splash. I could have gone straight down and she would never have noticed. The cushion and everything else would have gone with me, so I would simply have disappeared as far as she knew.

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