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I could have drowned today...

PITBoat

Petty Officer 2nd Class
Joined
Jul 26, 2018
Messages
195
Got into a little trouble on the lake today, and for a brief period, it flashed through my mind that that could really be it for me.

It was kinda windy (upper teens gusting low 20s), and I foolishly anchored upwind from the shoreline with the full brunt of the wind and current hitting us unprotected. It was an area that I thought was shallow a ways out from shore, and I wanted to let the kids practice swiming there (with jackets) where they could touch bottom.

3-4' is what I was wanting, but before I knew it, we were at 2' and less. The anchor wasn't grabbing well, so I got out with the idea of pushing the boat out a little deeper and trying get the anchor to catch a little further out. In the process of fighting that, we were moving, not so much toward shore but somewhat parallel to it. I ended up chest deep, then just after I gave the anchor a pitch, I found I couldn't touch bottom anymore.

I don't call myself a strong swimmer (obviously). I can get about in the water though, and usually just have a jacket with me within reach since wearing it makes it harder to actually swim. Well I had no plans to be in over my head this time, and didn't even have one with me. That feeling of suddenly losing control is not pleasant. I've had it before in the water, but not quite like that.

My one desire was of course to get back to the boat (which was drifting faster than me and getting away). I expended some effort in that, tried to calm myself, prayed of course (Lord Jesus!), tried it on my back but the water was a little rough and felt like it was gonna wash over me some like that. I turned back on my stomach and called for my son to throw me the throwable quick. He pitched it to me, but I don't know if I got it or if my other son got to me and handed it to me. I think it didn't make it to me because of the wind. At any rate he was cool and gave me his arm and started swimming toward the boat while I had the throwable (old and not very floaty) in my other hand and kicked myself.

I was just a little winded and tried to continue to calm down and breathe a little easier. My other son jumped in with the tube (flat) and rope attached and we eventually made it back to the boat unscathed but a little shook up.

I thought after the fact that had I not immediately tried to make the boat, I could have just resigned myself to treading water and gradually working with the current to get to shore instead of panicking and tiring myself trying to reach the boat (right now!).

Anyway, I'm thankful to come out of that, and wanted to share it.
 

FunInDuhSun

Petty Officer 1st Class
Joined
Apr 25, 2010
Messages
283
You were very lucky, and consider it a lesson learned! A 20 foot boat isn’t easy to push around, even in calm conditions.
Make sure the anchor is set by POWERING in reverse.
Where I boat, we lose a few every summer from strong currents that they’re not expecting. When we swim I put out a float cushion attached to a length of floating poly line.
Would your kids onboard have been able to safely start the boat and return to you?
 

tpenfield

Supreme Mariner
Joined
Jul 18, 2011
Messages
14,191
I think your biggest issue was panic . . . Maybe review some swimming water techniques to get yourself out of trouble.

I remember what my kids were taught during their swimming lessons if they got slightly over their heads . . . hold their breath and walk along the bottom towards shore until they got into shallower water. Seemed like a good technique that didn't really require 'swimming' :)

Anchoring in higher winds takes a little bit of planning and care. Second anchors are a good thing to keep the boat where you want it to stay.
 

Lou C

Admiral
Joined
Nov 10, 2002
Messages
6,628
anytime I am in one of the small boats (Walker Bay 8 or 10) or even the F/W I always, always have an inflatable life jacket on. Started doing this after an incident where my raw water hose popped off the PS cooler and filled the bilge with salt water, causing the boat to overheat and take on water. Did not come close to sinking but still scary. Pick up a few inflatables you can wear them all the time very comfortable.
 

Attachments

PITBoat

Petty Officer 2nd Class
Joined
Jul 26, 2018
Messages
195
Part of the anchor prob may have been that it got damaged a few times back. It's called a Danforth style I think, and the part the chain hooks onto got really bent getting it out of the bottom. So now instead of setting with the blades aimed down, it is sort of pulled sideways some of the time.

My 15 year old who was in the boat and almost always comes with me might've been able to manage getting it to me, but it prob woulda been too late. I let them drive it, and have talked to him especially about the shifting and that, but since I never got the shifting out of Fwd function to be real easy, I always do that part. That was my wife's idea too when she heard about what happened. She also said one of these days we're gonna find (the boat sabotaged) and that'll be that. She had a water scare as a kid and hasn't gotten in the lake yet.

Yeah, the panic thing is real. I wasn't flailing or yelling but I was already a little tired from wrestling the boat when we drifted out over the deeper part. I do ok in more calm water than that, with the security of having something ready to hand, but I don't trust myself enough to get in w/o anything at all. I'm talking water over my head. I like the exercise, but I don't push myself too hard either since the stakes are too high if I were to have a health episode (I'm over 50, etc.). Then choppy stuff and wind is a little different. Harder to relax in that, and flotation ready to hand doesn't work well at all since the wind blows it away from you as soon as you let go of it. I found that out this season too.

I think I'm through getting in w/o wearing it under any circumstances though. May have something on in the boat too. And we need to get a better throwable that's attached to a rope.
 
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gm280

Supreme Mariner
Joined
Jun 26, 2011
Messages
13,899
Odd how statics show the majority of drownings are from experienced swimmers. And I think that is because a person remembers when they were younger how well they thought they could swim in a fun safe environment situation. It is those iffy situations where too many learn they can't do what they used to be able to do and panic sets in. The rest is history. I have to say, you are very lucky that situations worked out in your favor. But don't push your luck and wear a PFD. If I, or my wife, get anywhere near water, we have ours' on religiously because you can't swim if you are unconscious or cut up and bleeding or even maimed in some other way! JMHO
 

PITBoat

Petty Officer 2nd Class
Joined
Jul 26, 2018
Messages
195
...you are very lucky that situations worked out in your favor.
Yes - my son being in the boat, the other one being near and wearing his jacket... So thankful.

The other 2 younger ones were having a keen time messing about and unaware of it.
 

KJM

Petty Officer 1st Class
Joined
Jul 31, 2016
Messages
362
wear the life jacket.......always, they are not that bad once you get used to them.
 

tpenfield

Supreme Mariner
Joined
Jul 18, 2011
Messages
14,191
Yea, I remember being in summer camp when I was about 12 yo. In order to do boating activities, you had to pass a swimming test. We had to swim across the lake 1/2 mile ish and back, hold our breath under water for 30 seconds, and dive down 12 feet and retrieve some bottom growth/mud.

I think at that point, I was at the peak of my swimming abilities. :)
 

Lou C

Admiral
Joined
Nov 10, 2002
Messages
6,628
I think the fact that I learned to swim not in pools or at a lake but in the ocean (Coney Island &Manhattan Beach Brooklyn NY) I was always cautious around water.
 

Lou C

Admiral
Joined
Nov 10, 2002
Messages
6,628
And it’s good to remind everyone no swimming off a dock that has any electrical hookup, the electrocution hazards are really not that well known, especially in fresh water....
 
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