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Stay seated please


Bruce J

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I had a few buddies in my Pathfinder with me last weekend, and after a full morning of fishing we pulled up to the dock of a local restaurant. As we approached the dock, they all got up to help out.  Of course that made it a bit more challenging for me to see the dock clearly, and it was also a bit distracting. And one of the guys had very little time on boats. You might already know where this is going. 

Just as I got the boat to the dock, the inexperienced guy on the bow jumped onto the dock. It wasn’t a great leap across an open span of water, just a short hop down onto the dock. But he didn’t stick the landing. In fact he so misjudged it that he landed almost directly on his side, hard. He got up right away, and as I tied the boat off, my other friends escorted him over to a nearby bench in the shade. When I got over to him he had lost all of his color and was clearly quite shaken. After about 15 minutes and a bottle of water, he felt well enough to go into the restaurant to recover further. 

It all reminded me that I need to tell my friends/guests to keep their seats while I’m docking until I ask them to get up. Everyone naturally wants to help, and in the past I thought it was more courteous to let them help.  But boats and docks create a challenging and even dangerous environment, and simplification is key.  At that same restaurant I witness potentially dangerous boat/guest interactions quite frequently, all when trying to help or getting on or off prematurely. 

So there’s a new rule on my boat and I’ll remember to express it more clearly before we get near the dock. I think most would appreciate some clear and easy instruction anyway so they don’t have to wonder what they should be doing. 

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Only my wife and kids are allowed to get up while docking because they are aware of what is happening. I tell everyone else to just hang tight while we get tied up. Not to mention what happened to your guest, that happens more than people realize, but how many times have you seen hands/fingers hanging over the gunnels while docking?

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I always launch and retrieve my sled by myself .

But two weeks ago , one of my buddies , tried to help out and decided it was a good idea to release the clicker , on the winch .

This is a very steep ramp , and I loves my slick bunk spray .

As I was trimming the motor down, I heard several hard thumps , and knew right away what had happened .

This guy is so lucky his wrist was not broken .

So swollen , so black n blue .

Hurts just thinking about it .

Dude maned up , and we proceeded to put on quite the clinic that day .

🇺🇸☠️

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I have had a few similar experiences.  You have to remind guests (especially new inexperienced ones) every time they are on the boat.  I treat it like an amusement park ride... Stay seated, hands and feet in the boat until it has completely come to a stop.  I don't need help unless I ask you for it! :D 

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Glad he is okay, your buddy too, Outlaw.

I'm the same as most, stay seated until the boat it stopped. I do not want help launching or retrieving unless you're one of two of the guys I grew up with and have boated/fished with my whole life. I have a system and If I count on anyone else to do anything, I do not know for a fact it's been done or done correctly (as simple as putting the plug in). Some call it being a control freak or whatever, and that's fine. My life and their life is my responsibility, and I will control what I can to ensure we all have a safe and enjoyable day on the water.

Also, don't forget to turn the engine off while away from the helm. I've seen more and more passengers throw the boat in gear while the captain is away from the helm; tied up, not tied up, etc. It's always a bad idea.

Quick incident I mentioned years ago: I took my boat out for the 4th of July one night and had 4 peoples with me. The girls needed to pee on the way back to the ramp (11pm) so I stopped in the middle of the river so they could pee. I never left the helm, but didn't turn the engine off. My sister in-law pee'd off the starboard side while my niece pee'd off the stern. Sis in-law grabbed the grab rail to pull herself up and ended up falling on the binnacle; full forward, my niece is in the drink without a PFD (I offered and she declined - I should have mandated she wear it). Sis in-law dives overboard to get my niece (both are life guards and my nephew (niece's husband - niece by marriage?) is a PJ in the Air Force, and his brother (other nephew) is a combat proven medic in the Army....We're safe, right? All ended well as my sis in-law had a auto inflate PFD on, which popped almost as soon as she hit the water. All parties were fine and no need for more than one person in the water as my niece was enjoying her swim, although minus some clothing and a little dignity. What could have been a tragic night ended up causing some serious reflection on my habits and gear I carry on board. I've had a boat of some sort for over 35 of my 44 years on this earth. I thought I was well prepared and safe.....

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Had same incident with a buddy at Flamingo. He did not wait for me to stop alongside the dock and made a leap. He forgot how tippy the HPX was and did not land with both feet on the dock. He ended up one leg over and one leg under hugging the edge of the dock. Looked like a tree frog before he took the full dunk with my truck keys in his hands.

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None of us are ever overprepared when it comes to this kind of stuff!

I never allow anyone to help me launch or load my boat. Not even the guys that taught me how to do it on their boats when I was a kid! In regards to docking, I scream when anyone even begins to stand up when I'm pulling into my slip in Choko or alongside dock.

ps. Looks like the guy at the OR ramp was a little overexcited about camping! The traffic at that ramp stinks. Having to launch & load every day I go fishing would be a PITA! Aside from having digs, the two most important things in Choko are access to the water and having a boat slip.  

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All great advice. I had a guy last weekend pop up as we were approaching the dock. He’s not on a boat much. All I said was “grab a seat”. He did so, and once I got tied up, I explained to him that it’s best to let whoever is driving the boat solicit help. Otherwise, stay seated. 

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My wife rides on the cooler in front of the console. Every time we are docking she says "what can I do"? and starts moving all around. I reply "keep your butt on the cooler". She gets mad every time. I keep forgetting to say "Honey, just keep your seat I'll take care of this"'. She likes everything sugarcoated. 

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