When taking the boat (a Columbia 45) off its mooring can, alone, in windy conditions, I motored the boat forward to take the tension off the mooring line, ran forward and removed the line from the bow cleat, then threw the marking buoy into the water, then ran back to the helm and put her in gear.
I failed to realize I threw the marking buoy to windward and the wind blew it back across the bow. I went right over it and didn't realize it until the boat stopped moving. I didn't know what happened. I was just sitting there in forward gear. I tried to power forward, thinking I was on sand or something (which made no sense because the harbor was plenty deep) and I heard the engine hum but felt no resistance.
I immediately put it in neutral and ran below, tearing up the floorboards fearing the worst, a lost prop shaft. What I found was the bolts had sheared on the prop saver and I was apparently hung up on the mooring line.
My dad was waiting at the dock with some people he wanted to take out that day (the would have
). He could see I wasn't moving. This was before cell phones! This is what he saw, from about 600 yards away:
I put on the wet suit (it was cold!) and dove in to assess the situation. I knew as soon as I freed the prop from the mooring line we were toast. The wind was blowing 15-20. So I went up top, set out some dock lines and fenders. The boat that was immediately downwind was now being boarded. I yelled to them to explain my situation and they agreed to help tie me up when I freed the line, as long as the boat blew that way.
I dove back in and managed to free the line from the prop then swam back to the boarding ladder, grabbed some fenders and hoped for the best. Our boat was quickly approaching the other boat. The crew there was on deck with their fenders. I threw them a line and they tied me to one of their cleats. We did some more fender jockeying then tied her down.
After thanking them profusely
, I jumped back in the water and swam over to our mooring line to inspect it. No cuts, no sign of damage. Then I swam back and laid out the anchor line (less anchor) and carefully lowered it into the water so as not to knot it. I then dove back in the water, took the free end of the anchor line, swam back to mooring can and tied it down. There was a nice chop in the harbor.
I swam back to the boat, rigged the line so it would run through the one of the chocks then took it to a mast mounted winch. Then I began cranking. THAT was tough! The wind wanted me to go one way and I tried to go the other. It was a single speed winch to boot.
The scary part was when the crew on the other boat freed me from their's. I was on my own and the wind had shifted. Finally I got the boat close enough to reach the marking buoy and hoist the mooring line and cleat it. Whew!
Boy, did I feel dumb after that! My dad later commented freely on how stupid I was.