Safety First

Consider well-being on the water before you ever leave the land

A day on the water is normally a pleasant experience but on one particular day in South Carolina a not-so-pleasant event happened that I will never forget. Anchored in a small cut between two rivers, I was happily spending the day with my girlfriend. She was peacefully sunbathing while I tried to coax a few fish into the boat.

It was a typical summer day with many boats on the water. A medium-sized bow-rider was traveling upriver on plane obviously with a destination in mind. Meanwhile, a smaller aluminum fishing boat was coming through the cut where we were anchored, also making good time. On their current courses, everything was just peachy. But suddenly, without notice, the bow-rider made a sharp turn to the right at full speed to try to make it through the cut. The two boats collided almost head on, with the fishing boat almost immediately on its way to the bottom. The front passenger, a middle-aged local fellow, was ejected from the boat and didn’t hit the water for about 30 feet. As I was yanking in the anchor to help with the rescue, the gentleman came to the surface, and I will never forget what he shouted: “I cannot swim!” Then he began to flail frantically about. There wasn’t much time but we were so close that I maneuvered to him while my girlfriend pulled the man onto the boat. We helped everyone to shore and, miraculously, no one was seriously injured. The fishing boat didn’t fare so well.

This story had a mostly happy ending, but every year we have accidents on our rivers and lakes that end up in fatalities. This year we may see more boat traffic than ever as folks try to find ways to have fun while social-distancing. Be sure if you haven’t been on the water lately—or ever—to take the time to seek out a safety course, so we can all have memorable days on the water—for the right reasons.   

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