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Scary Personal Boat Stories......
Old 03-30-2009, 09:53 AM   #1
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Scary Personal Boat Stories......

My scariest moment was on the Mississippi River. A friend and I were fishing in the main channel on a wingdam about 1/2 a mile from the dam. The water was high but we were being careful.

We decided to pull the anchor and go upstream a little further. We got into the main channel and his 25 horse Johnson flat out DIED. He furiously started cranking on it, but it kept sputtering.........

The current was pulling us further and further towards the dam. There were NO other boats in sight...... I was in the front, and tried to figure out what to do. As my friend pulled the cover on the motor and was trying to get it started, I moved the electric trolling motor to the front of the boat, set it on high, and tried to slow our drift toward the dam. I took the oars we had and started rowing to slow our drift. I should mention that we tried to drop the anchor, but the current was too strong and it wouldn't hold, the bottom was mud.

We were about 50 yards from the "Oh God" wires the Corps of Enginners puts up thst you can grab and hold onto as your boat goes over the dam, when the motor sputtered to life.........He hit the gas and we got out of the current and into a slough away from the dam and current........
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Old 03-30-2009, 10:30 AM   #2
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So many, not sure where to begin.

I like this kind of story as a learning device, not as a way of rehashing white nuckle experiences. I gotta say, your "dam" story is pretty dam scary. I've never had an o/b that didn't quit on me at the most critical of times -- I think it's programmed into them when they are built.

You did the right things, used all you had to slow the drift towards the dam until the engine started. I would have tried dropping the anchor as well, as you did, but it didn't hold. Maybe as a really last ditch thing, if the engine didn't start and you knew the boat would go over the damn, maybe you could tie the anchor line under your arms, throw the anchor and jump out of the boat as it was going over, and hope the anchor caught on the dam. Sort of a James Bond scene, though, doubt if it would actually work.

One of my own scary experiences was after a two-day frostbite regatta on the Chesapeake in wind and rain with water and air temp both in the mid 50s.

My crew was beginning to show symptoms of hypothermia so when we returned to the dock I sent everyone home to warm up while I stayed behind. I was left as the only person at the marina, and I was a bit hypothermic myself so wasn't thinking straight. It was a 25 foot trailerable sailboat but I was too tired to pull it out, so went to tie up to a mooring ball a couple of hundred yards offshore pulling my hard dinghy.

Secured everything, including the swimming ladder and life jackets (duh), stepped into the dinghy, lost my balance, and in the water I went. The wind and current quickly took the dinghy away and I couldn't manage the five foot freeboard to pull myself back on. But there was a line hanging from the stern, which I tried to use to pull myself back in a couple of times before slipping and going underwater. By that time I lost feelings in my hands and could no longer manage any more effort. I knew I could not swim to shore in those conditions, so I tied myself off as tightly as possible to that line, got into a fetal position, and waited for rescue while periodically yelling out.

Long story short, someone eventually saw me from shore and called 911 and I got rescued by DNR after being in the water for maybe 30 minutes. My core temp was 94, so another 10 minutes and I would have died from hypothermia. When I was taken to shore I had no idea about my condition, so refused to go to the fire station to be warmed up. I told them I was going to get in my car and drive home. I stood up and my legs crumbed under me, and next thing I knew I was wrapped in blankets inside the fire station.

Oh, did I say we came in second in the regatta, five seconds off first? :-)

Obvious lesson: always wear a life jacket, stoopid. Now I wear one whenever I'm on a dock, before I even get into the boat and don't take it off until I'm off the dock. Another lesson, correctly applied: Never try to swim in cold water, the water passing your body robs you of body heat and hypothermia sets in quickly. 50% of everyone who tries to swim 50 yards or more in 50 degree water dies of hypothermia.

Had to go out to run an errand before I finished. Other lessons: when boating alone, or in heavy weather, or bad sea conditions, carry a submersible vhf and/or sealed cell phone clipped to your life jacket, along with some kind of knife in case you need to cut yourself free from lines. On the life jacket, most of them are too bulky to wear all the time, so I use the SOSpenders style that lays flat around the chest and inflates automatically when in the water, so usually don't even remember that it's on.
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Old 03-30-2009, 10:32 AM   #3
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Ive been out in Lake Erie when some serious storm action kicks up. It takes no time at all for that place to get nasty. Nothing quite like almost going over a dam.
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Old 03-30-2009, 11:09 AM   #4
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Another scary story:

Dad and I were out about 6 miles fishing in Lake Michigan. It was a nice summer day, and we had the marine radio on per normal. We were catching a lot of nice fish and having a blast. Suddenly my dad looks up at the clouds and tells me to pull the downriggers up and get everything stowed away fast. I see some dark clouds but nothing serious. My dad keeps prodding me and he's in a big hurry.

The waves were 3 feet at the time. We started back at a pretty good clip when all heck breaks looose. At the time, we did not have radar on the boat. The waves got to 6-8 feet in a hurry, some cresting at 9-10. Basically it was one of those weird storms that forms over the ocean or big bodies of water like a Great Lake. We had to drop our speed a lot and cut the waves at a 45 angle. Horizontal rain, etc......lots of lightning.........wow!!

15 minutes later, the sun came out, and the waves calmed down....weirdest thing I have ever seen. My dad was rarely scared, but he didn't say a word to me the rest of the day........
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Old 03-30-2009, 11:17 AM   #5
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Dam ... you guys live dangerously. Not as good as the others ... but:

I was bass fishing in the St Lawrence (at the NY-Canadien border). Two of us in a row boat with a small 30 horse engine. Fishing off an island ... water maybe 5 feet deep. We decide to move to another spot, so I am standing in the back of the boat trying to get the engine going: pull ... nothing ... pull ... nothing Sooo I open the throttle a little ... pull. The motor catches gear and jerks the boat into a turn. I go head first into the water. I stand up (water's shallow) only to see my buddy spinning in a circle ... no control of the boat (he's in the front). And the back of the boat - engine running - is heading right for me. So I duck under water and FEEL the water from the rudder brush my back. Pop back up for air and watch my buddy regain control of the boat.

I asked him if I was bleeding (having been run over by the boat) ... not even a scratch! So back to fishing.
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Old 03-30-2009, 11:25 AM   #6
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Scene: small lake oriented east-west, notorious for fast moving squalls.
Vessel: 26' Chrysler sailboat, 10 hp o/b motor for propulsion.
Situation: Sailboat at anchor several hundred yards from local beach. We were onshore getting lunch, then went back onboard and sailed to middle of lake.
Crew: LH at helm, me serving as weather lookout, weather radio monitor and chartist for shoal avoidance.
Weather: Clear sky, forecast was good for all day. All of a sudden, I saw a fast moving squall coming from the west, with lighting to beat the band, while we were out on the water. I sounded the alarm to LH. Lifejackets ON. He dropped the sail and fired up the o/b motor and headed straight to the nearest shore.
Power boats were streaming right alongside us, cutting in front of us, making it very difficult to make decent headway. We somehow got to shore to a private marina in a sheltered cove. We secured gear and promptly exited the boat because of that really big lightning rod - i.e. the mast.
The storm blew by and we were ok. It was a microburst that was not even reported on the weather radio. I will never forget that lightning.
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Old 03-30-2009, 11:56 AM   #7
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One more...it is actually a land & sea story...I was tent camping at Long Lake, accessible only by water or backpack trail, in the Adirondacks during this event:
Adirondack Derecho of July 1995

We had our 18' fiberglas deck boat (party barge with flat V bottom) anchored in a shallow minibay. We were asleep when the sound of a freight train came roaring through the mountains at 430 AM. It was the wind.
Millions of acres of trees were flattened, 5 campers were killed by falling trees, but somehow our campsite was out of harm's way. The lightning and roaring winds were downright scary.
When it blew by, we looked for the boat. It had dragged both anchors toward shore and was perched on some underwater boulders, rocking with the waves. We tried to pull it free. It took me counting (aloud) the timing of the waves and 3 of us pushing right at the crest of the waves to dislodge it. The hull was not breached TG. The park ranger showed up, checked that we had food and water, and informed us we were going to be staying for at least 2 more days until the roads were cleared of trees.
I never tent camped again.
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Old 03-30-2009, 12:20 PM   #8
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Another story, again in a regatta.

Three races were scheduled, but a front was also scheduled to come through sometime during the race. After two races I saw a black squall line approaching in the distance, decided discretion is the better part of valor and headed in. Of course, the rest of the fleet decided to remain racing.

We were almost back to the marina when the squall hit. I don't know how high the wind got but everything was blowing by horizontally and it got real dark except for the flashes of lightning. I told the crew to get down below and stay away from any metal parts, while I remained topside handling the tiller and trying to beat against the oncoming wind and waves. At least, going into the wind, the waves were not high, but were getting topped off and mixing with the rain, so it was like steering into an open fire hydrant.

I was too focused on the situation to worry about the flashes of lightning but I did move away from the metal rail just as we took a hit on the mast. I saw a huge flash, then spark jumped from the rail and hit me right in the butt. I expected to be fried, but I kept looking around and I seemed to be fine (sometimes it's good to have a big butt). Within a few minutes the squall line blew over and we made it safely into the slip. Apparently the lightning had struck the mast, came down the metal shrouds, and went to ground in the water from there, but enough static had built up that I caught a spark off the rail.

After we got back I heard the rest of the story. One of the boats still racing got hit and blew a big hole its fiberglass hull, sinking the boat. Fortunately the crew was rescued. On land it was a more tragic story, two people playing soccer in a field were struck by lightning and died.

Lesson: Don't mess with mother nature. When a storm is coming, head back in with enough margin to make it back well before the storm hits.
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Old 03-30-2009, 01:43 PM   #9
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The scariest story I have concerning boats involved me being in a boat; but the boat was beached and I was lounging...just soaking up a few rays. We were having a party with quite a few folks and several of the other boats hadn't come to shore yet. Children were playing on the beach.

One of the guys brought his new huge ski boat that he purchased just a couple of months before the party. I heard his boat and turned to see where he was....he was heading straight for the beach in an accelerated speed. I knew he was going to put most of that boat on the beach where the children were playing. I jumped out of my boat and started screaming. I got the attention of my friends and we scooped the children up and ran.

Fortunately no one got hurt.
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Old 03-30-2009, 02:07 PM   #10
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Well,since we're having so much fun.........

Once again, have respect for Mother Nature. I'm 9 years old on dad's boat. At the time we had a 23 Carver with a Merc inboard. Weather is overcast but ok, fishing is good. I take a break and just kind of daydream looking around......

Suddenly I see some weird clouds about a half mile away. They are dark gray and seem to be swirling. Nothing on the CB or marine radio. I tell dad and he says nothing. All of a sudden I see a thin line of water being sucked up into the clouds, and yell to my dad to come see. He doesn't come over, he says get the poles in the boat FAST, its a water tornado........

The water tornado stays there for a little while, then disappears. The movie Twister reminds of that, when the tornado on the hill reappears, except on a much smaller scale.

Dad always told me the top speed in the boat was 42 knots. Seemed like he hit 50 on the way back to port.........
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Old 03-30-2009, 02:31 PM   #11
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(nevermind, didnt see nfl players thread already there)
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Old 03-30-2009, 06:04 PM   #12
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Financedude, now you’ve awakened my memory cells so here’s yet another one.

Maybe 10 years ago, DW and I sailed to the British Virgin Island of Virgin Gorda on a typically beautiful Caribbean day. Dropped anchor in a nice anchorage about 4PM and prepared to go ashore for dinner. As we got in the dinghy I noticed some black clouds to the west starting to block the sun, but the forecast had been for fair weather so I didn’t think much more about it.

Got the dinghy to the shore, tied up, and walked to a nearby restaurant. I asked the locals about the weather. “No problem, mon, it hasn’t rained here in a month, and we hardly ever get rain anyway.” Looking around you could see how everything was dry, with cactus around, reaffirming the local’s story.

Sat down to a nice dinner, finished it, and were on our third (or maybe fourth) margarita when there was a sudden flash and all the lights went out. The electricity in the whole island had gone out, and they have no backup. Then it started to rain. Now, in the tropics when it decides to rain it’s not just rain, it’s RAIN(!), like someone is pouring a bucket of water on you, with big, heavy drops. The lightning got worse, the rain got harder, and it got darker and darker until the sun went down and we could not see our hands in front of our face.

Another thing in the tropics, if it rains hard you can usually wait 10 minutes and it will stop. So we waited. 10 minutes pass. 20 minutes. 30 minutes. An hour later it was raining as hard as ever, still no lights, all the locals had left, and we decided we better get back to the boat.
The only light we had was a small penlight, and with this we start making our way to where we thought our dinghy was. Now, one thing I didn’t say, and those who have gone to Virgin Gorda know the place I’m referring to, there’s a ground-level tank filled with sharks at this resort, so the tourists can see the captive sharks when they go to eat. So we’re walking to our dinghy, not knowing where it is, but knowing there’s an open shark tank somewhere between us and the dinghy. We walk very gingerly, rain pouring down, penlight shining a couple of steps ahead, as we see the border of the shark tank. We walk around it, get our orientation, and eventually find our dinghy. Except with all the rain, it’s flooded and weighed down with the water.

We get the bailer out and start bailing just keeping ahead of the rain. We get it bailed out enough to float, start the engine, and head out into the blackness of the ocean with rain and lightning still all over the place. Now we have to find our boat. I drive the dinghy in a zig zag, or what seemed like a zig zag, with wider legs figuring this way I will eventually run into the boat. It seemed like forever, when eventually, ahead of us, was the shape of a hull. We breathe a sigh of relief as we drive the dinghy towards the boat, going to the stern where we left the swimming ladder. Except there’s no swimming ladder there! After a moment of panic we realize there’s a couple of other things not right, then we figure out, this is not our boat!

So we pull off and get back to zig sagging and eventually we did find out boat, with swimming ladder out. Climbed onboard, tied the dinghy, found the berth, and really breathed a sigh of relief. But we had to listen to the thunder, see the lightning flashes, and hear the dinghy banging against the side of the boat all night. By morning the weather had cleared and the storm had passed. Later I learned this had been a fast developing tropical storm that became the first named storm of the season, and went on to hit Florida. It was an unusually early storm and, wouldn’t you know it, we decided to anchor right in its path as it was forming.

BTW, if you're wondering, we're still married, and DW still sails with me. But we're thinking of switching to big cruise ships in the future.
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Old 03-30-2009, 09:33 PM   #13
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These are some great stories. They are definitely the best read of the day.
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Old 03-30-2009, 10:19 PM   #14
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Speaking of big cruise ships, when I was a kid we sailed on the President Wilson from Manila to San Francisco. Sailing out of Yokohama, we caught the tail end of a typhoon and the boat just bounced around. You know the old WWII films of the ships going through the storm and the bow going under the waves. That happened several times. We couldn't swim because the water was splashing around like crazy. And most of the passengers and crew were seasick. I remember being up in the game room, looking out the window and seeing nothing but a wall of water. Lots of fun. And it went on for two days. Not something I would recommend.
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Old 03-31-2009, 01:17 AM   #15
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I preferred row boats to speed boats, got stuck in the reeds/duck blinds sometimes, pulled the boat out by grabbing onto lilypads, they have very tough stems. Is there a category for least scary story? Oh, I forgot to mention, that lake is infested with blood suckers, I pulled many of them off my legs. Still I wasn't scared.
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Old 03-31-2009, 05:58 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bssc View Post
You know the old WWII films of the ships going through the storm and the bow going under the waves.
Similar experience in Caribbean many years ago. 700+ foot liner bow was lurching out of the sea and then crashing down to flood the bow. The entire deck was flooded by the sloshing swimming pools until they were drained. Here's the weird part. The weather wasn't particularly nasty. There apparently had been a storm south of us which propelled huge swells at us. I assumed they knew about such things and simply avoided them - but I guess not. From the inside (near the bow) the creaking and groaning of the boat did not give confidence - nor did the fact that on that cruise, they had failed to teach us about using life vests/boats, etc. Some glitch on day one and they just ignored it!

No actual problems (other than sea sickness gone wild). Still, I was surprised by the whole event and haven't "cruised" since
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Old 03-31-2009, 09:01 AM   #17
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Here's a somewhat scary story that happened to two other boaters but I was able to help them out.

A buddy and I were fishing on a side channel of the Mississippi. He had a 15 foot V bottom with a 25 horse tiller, not the biggest boat but adequate. The water that year was at historic lows and there were signs everywhere saying "low water".

All of a sudden I hear a boat approaching at a high rate of speed. We were off to the side of the channel, so out of the way. I see a big Ranger bass boat flying up the channel at about 50 mph. I notice he seems a bit close to the shore so my friend Tim and I start waving our arms wildly and yelling for them to slow down. Of course, they can neither see nor hear us. Tim and I look at each other and wait.

About two seconds later we hear a sound like a jet going overhead, then a loud boom, and then silence. We look over, and there's a cloud of black smoke coming from the boat, and one guy is in the water. We rushed over there to see how we could help.

We fished the guy out of the water and assessed the damage. The boat's 225 hp outboard's lower unit had hit a steel drainage pipe that stuck out about 20 yard from shore. Normally, it was covered by about 4 feet of water, but that year there was only about a foot of water over it. The lower unit hit that corrugated steel culvert pipe, and then was sheared off....... The engine took a beating too. Those guys went from 50 mph to 0 in about 40 feet, and the impact threw the passenger in the water. Luckily he was not hurt.

With their boat dead in the water, and no other boaters around, they needed a tow to the marina. We hooked up their bow line and started toward the marina, about a mile away.

Trust me, our boat was NOT designed to pull a fully loaded 21 foot fiberglass boat with a big motor on the back. All we could do is about 2 mph if we were lucky. It took us about an hour to manuever into the marina. The boaters swore a blue streak the entire time we were towing them. Turns out there was a bass tournament that weekend in the area and they were "scouting" the water.

We got them tied off and went to leave. The guys gave us each a $50 and sincerely thanked us. We decided to go back out fishing. As we pulled away, we heard one of the boaters ask the mechanic if they could put a lower unit in by Friday night (it was Wednesday). Tim and I knew there was a 2 month backlog that time of year so we got a little smile out of that...........

Bottom line, they didn't know the water, and they paid a price, but were lucky they didn't die or get seriously hurt......
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Old 03-31-2009, 09:59 AM   #18
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Scariest, (and stupidest) boating story so far...

First time out last year with my 19 ft jet boat...

Spent the day before waxing it getting it all cleaned up, motor tuned ect...

Launch the boat on the river and wait at the dock for my girlfriend to park the truck and trailer...

She gets in and off we go...

The boat seems slow and I cant get on plane...

Then I notice all the water in the boat

Yep forgot to put in the drain plug

Got scared and haulled ass back to the boat launch, beached it on the shore before we sank

Went to a local hardware store and got a plug...

Bilge pump broke after about an hour...

Spent about an hour bailing it out by hand and finally got enough out to get it back on the trailer...

It took 45 more minutes to drain all the water out...

Decided to call it a day and went home

I now carry several spare drain plugs
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Old 03-31-2009, 10:22 AM   #19
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Wow, great stories. Here are some less exciting ones:

1. Dumb Teenagers

I worked summers on a clam boat (like this one) on Long Island and we'd sometimes dredge up abandoned lobster traps. My buddy and I decided to set the trap, and I guess our days were busy, so at night we load the trap onto his sailfish, and without sail start paddling the mile or so to a known lobster hangout. No lights.

bay.jpg

Sure enough, halfway across, we see a powerboat heading for us a high speed. We wave our arms but he keeps coming. We were about to dive under, but he just missed us and never even saw us.

We set the trap, but were never able to find it again.

2. Dead Stop I

Same buddy and same sailfish. We were sailing along at a good rate of speed, when the daggerboard hit a submerged rock. All I remember is that both of us were suddenly mashed up against the mast.

3. Dead Stop II

On the beach I was watching a neighbor sailing solo in his Lightning trying to grab his mooring buoy. The wind was about 8 knots. He makes about four passes without success. He then throws out his Danforth anchor. The boat comes to an instant stop, and the guy flies through the air all the way to the bow.
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Old 03-31-2009, 12:09 PM   #20
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Other than some exhilerating big water experience on the old WW2 destroyer Mansfield during that Vietnam thing, my best stories involve canoes. My gal and i and a lady friend of ours were canoing down the Willamette one summer day - think flat smallish river winding through farmland, cottonwoods on the banks, little islands and channels. I was in the back, steering and using my Navy experience and male chromosome advantage to direct our path. We were taking advantage of a bit of quicker water near the bank and cutting through little whirlpools when ahead of me i saw a fallen tree in the water. A portion was above the edge of the water, then there was a submerged section, then it re-emerged and got all branchy and brushy. Now this was a pretty boring flat river, so i first considered going under the tree close to the bank - the closer we got, the more evident it was that while the canoe might get under we would all have to be laying flat - that was not likely to make the others real happy with my captaining. Decided there would be adequate excitement if we shot through the section over the submerged trunk.

I still think that might have worked. Several things conspired against us. (1) we were making good progress downstream. (2) it would be more exciting if i didn't tell the others we were going to shoot the gap. (3) the others had functional brains and good survival instincts. Result was that as i tried to steer us away from shore and toward the gap my honey and her girlfriend got big eyed and dug in with their paddles to go around the tree. We ended up going into the limbs of the tree sideways to the current. Came to an abrupt stop and the bottom of the canoe tried to climb the limbs, which put the open hull of the canoe in a somewhat submerged postition pointing upstream. It filled and wrapped around the limb in about a 1/4 second. I am a confirmed skinny non-swimmer. Somehow i managed to go from left shoulder about to touch water to standing on top of the tree limbs. Levitation i think - sort of like when you try and drop a cat in a bathtub.

Looked around and my honey was out at the branch tips retrieving gear - she swims like a happy cork and was gathering icechests and hats and paddles and wine bottles and holding and grabbing and i guess gripping the branch tips with her toes. Our friend's head & shoulders were above water upstream of the canoe. Pulled her up and we all gathered on the trunk to plan. With a fair amount of work we were able to slide the canoe along the branch till it popped free - we had tied a 1/4" 20' sisal rope to the bow that my gal had found out in the branches - the canoe floated free, swung around, .. and broke the line and headed downstream. I was wearing a lifejacket - we all went in the water - friend headed for shore, honey struck out for the canoe, and i figured i would drift downstream, with luck lodging at the same point as the canoe...
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