Monday, August 4, 2014

A Boating Safety Lesson

MYC members Jim Cavenaugh, Greg and Diane Kampf working with the
Sharon Fire Department to corral a wild boat.

This past Sunday, a group of skippers were at the club deciding if there was enough wind to hold the days racing, when Jim Cavenaugh noticed a boat spinning at full throttle in tight circles with nobody aboard.  Several members jumped into the MYC rescue boats and headed for the scene. About 100 yards south of the wayward boat, its operator was in the water unhurt and waving, but tired.  Randy Rubenstein and Mark Stoughton fished him out of the water, while Jim Cavenaugh, Diane and Greg Kampf brought out equipment to attempt to disable and tow the runaway boat.

At that moment, the Sharon Fire Department arrived on the scene and took over the boat recovery operations. Ultimately they opted for the safest alternative, simply waiting for the boat to run out of fuel. The operator was delivered back to shore, none the worse for wear.

Luckily nobody was hurt. This could have been a very serious situation. The operator was not wearing a life jacket (although one was in the boat), and he did not have the ignition kill switch tether attached to him. If he had, the motor would have instantly stopped the moment that he fell out of the boat, he could have climbed back in and gone back on his way.  By the time our boats got to the operator, he was tired and far from shore. If this had happened when nobody was at the club to notice his boat in trouble, we could be reading some very different headlines this morning.

Even though we spend most of our time in sailboats, all MYC members are trained in motorboat operation, and many of our members are experienced in rescue operations. We all know that the water is fun, but it can also be dangerous. We train our members to be aware of the dangers, and to act accordingly.

Unfortunately not everyone on the lake is trained. This is the third rescue performed by alert Massapoag sailors in the past month. We cannot over emphasize the importance of proper safety precautions when operating any boat, be it a sailboat of a motorboat. In the excitement of getting out on the water, it is all too easy to forget safety measures, like putting on a life jacket, or attaching the kill switch tether. Everyone can make mistakes.  Turning boating safety measures into habits makes those mistakes less likely and may save your life someday.

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