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Old 06-18-2007
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That is unfortunate, but it's a good lesson to share. It reminds me of a near-miss I witnessed last summer that still gives me shudders.

A teen-sailing program came into the harbor where we were docked, they in an older, heavy mid-40 footer, in nasty weather. They had had a rough day of it in heavy winds and drenching rain. As they approached the pier where they intended to tie up for the night, they discovered that they could not engage reverse. The "skipper", a middle aged counselor, barked an order to two of the teeneagers on deck: "Run to the bow and fend off with your bodies". They ran to the bow, where one teenage girl climbed out into the pulpit and prepared to place herself between the bow and the rapidly approaching pier. The boat was still moving over 4 knots, and the helmsman was aiming straight at the pier, as if to t-bone it. The skipper kept yelling "Fend-Off, Fend-Off", but he did not order the helmsman to turn nor any other evasive action.

We are all loathe to interfere with another skippers docking procedures, but when I realized what was happenning I sprinted down the dock and with the most commanding voice I could muster, shouted to the girl: "MOVE OFF THE BOW NOW!!" and to the helmsman" "TURN YOUR BOAT". The girl pulled herself back through the pulpit just as the bow slammed into a vertical dock piling, cracking it right through, mangling the pulpit, and putting a large crack in the stem and foredeck of the boat. It was so close I almost puked. This mid-40 footer literally bounced back several feet. If that had been my daughter....

After helping them warp their boat in to the dock, I went back to our boat and asked my kids if they had seen what happenned. They had. I told them that if ANYBODY, including the skipper of a boat, ever tells them to fend-off with their bodies or jump ashore, they should refuse. It is the skippers duty to bring a boat in properly so no one needs to get hurt or jump. No part of their body should ever be between the boat and the dock. I think they got the message.
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