Sailing, Sailing, and a Boating Accident

Sailboats

In my lifetime, I’ve paddled, rowed, trolled, pontooned, canoed, and boated, but I’ve never gone sailing.  It looks so serene.  (Or maybe I don’t have a clue and it’s really hard work, but the idea still appeals to me.)  Wind-driven bliss…

Sailboat

These shots were taken on an outing with my son (when I was in Minnesota), including a stop at Slippery’s Tavern (in Wabasha), featured in the movies “Grumpy Old Men” and “Grumpier Old Men.”  Yup, there really is such a place.

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Apparently the local Hot Rod Association was having an outing, too.  This one was my favorite… :)

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Hot Rods

Although the “new” Slippery’s doesn’t resemble the one in the movies, it was still fun to sit on their waterfront veranda and watch the boats go by.

Slipperys Tavern veranda

Which reminds me… whatever means you use for water fun, please be safe!  You don’t want to end up at the bottom of the lake like I did.  (Say what?!)

When The Man Of Few Words & I first moved here, we were anxious to launch our newly-acquired (albeit ancient) boat for our first-ever outing on Lake Eufaula.  Bear in mind, this lake is huge, it’s rife with obstacles (rocks, trees, etc.), and it’s 600 feet deep in some points.

After a delightful day on the water, Russ & I headed for home — not fast, mind you (we had a teeny, tiny Evinrude) — but, we weren’t wearing life jackets, being experienced sea dogs and all.

Did we have them on board?  Yes.  On?  No…

Along came a wake from a cabin cruiser farther down the lake, slowly and insidiously as “Jaws.”  Bam!  One minute I was hugging my hubby and the next, I was under water.  Besides the shock of realizing I wasn’t in the boat, there was disorientation to deal with…  “Which way is up?!”

Thankfully, I remembered the Jacques Cousteau shows I watched as a kid (funny, the things that enter your mind when you’re drowning) and did what his divers did.  Follow the bubbles.

The force from the swell and the physics involved swatted me out of the boat like a ping pong ball and catapulted me twenty feet under.  (I know this because after I stopped spinning, it took 4 or 5 strong lunges to reach the surface.)

Then I waited for Russ to come and get me.  Only he didn’t.

Unbeknownst to me, the steering cable snapped and the throttle broke off in his hand.  There he sat, hundreds of yards away, while I was treading water in the middle of a very large lake.  (Which, I can attest, is nothing like treading water in a pool.)

After shouting and waving frantically at him to throw me the “floatie” — (the floating seat cushion) (which he did, but it was still a long way off) — I started swimming toward the boat, aware that I was also smack dab in the middle of a “water traffic lane.”  Without a colorful, buoyant flotation device to alert folks to my presence, I was basically a sitting duck.

I swam faster.

By now, I was getting tired, so I flipped over and back-stroked in the direction of my beloved, now a hundred yards off.  Incredibly, I bumped into the “floatie” on the way there with my eyes closed (!) and grabbed it like it was manna from heaven.  (To me, it was.)

When I finally reached the boat, Russ hauled me over the side and we quickly resolved “why he didn’t come and get me.”  (Never assume…)  Then, as we stared incredulously at each other wondering “what just happened?!”, the pain from my injuries and hypothermia started to kick in.

Prior to that, I didn’t realize I’d hit the side of the boat when I was pitched out; my entire left side was bruised and my ankle was swollen and throbbing.  The sun was also beginning to set and the temp was dropping rapidly.

Following a long, slow trip back to the boat landing (several miles away) with me shivering uncontrollably in a damp beach towel (which I had to share with the broken throttle handle to keep from cutting my hand) and Russ maneuvering the motor with his legs (it was the only way he could steer), we finally made it back to shore.

Moral of the story:  Wear your life jacket!  Old sea dogs can (and did) learn new tricks.  We will never go out on the water without wearing our life jackets — ever again.

Which brings me back to sailing…

Have you tried it?

This is as close as I’ve come:

. . .

FYI, I’m on hiatus ’til the 8th, so Happy 4th of July a lil’ early!

Also, be sure to enter my giveaway if you haven’t already.

And most importantly — be safe!  It’s much less painful than being sorry.

Enjoying the prospect of wind-driven bliss with a life jacket,

~ Kim

20 thoughts on “Sailing, Sailing, and a Boating Accident

    • Thinking about it now (5 years later), it does make for a humorous story, Isabelle, but at the time, it was damn scary! I’m glad it gave you the giggles — actually, I smiled as I wrote it, thinking about all the blessings I’ve been granted since then (that I would have missed due to my own stupidity, yikes…) Sometimes I’m a slow learner, ha! Perspective is everything. Hope you feel better, love!

  1. How awful. I’d be scarred for life from a boat after that incident. I’m glad your alive and well, minus the bruises. Have an Awesome 4th of July Kim.

    • Dawn, it’s like riding a bike (or a horse) — ya get back on and remember what NOT to do next time. I was a lil’ skittish the first couple of times back on the water, but now I’m like a dog hanging its head out the car window. More, more, faster, faster… WITH a life jacket. ;) Hope you have a great holiday, too!

    • Thanks, Sue Ann! Sounds like you’re reveling in that unhooked hiatus! Sometimes it takes stepping away to see how everything fits. Happy Summer. Happy Gardening. Happy Writing! Happy “Independence” Day!

  2. Kim! I can’t even begin to express how scared I was as I read this!! I mean I know you and Russ are just fine, but to think of how close both of you came to a tragedy…in the blink of an eye…God was right there w/you!! xox

    • Ally, this was definitely one of those experiences that made me count my blessings. Thanks for your caring comment, xo. We are alive & well — and we know Who to thank!

  3. I see sailboats and I imagine serene afternoons on the water, but boating isn’t for me. I know how to swim, but I really don’t like it and I get motion sick on elevators, not to mention in boats. I’ll just have to stick to the shore and watch the sails as they pass.

  4. AAA! So scary! Thank God you’re OK! I once thought I was going to drown as I was in the middle of a lake and had exhausted myself to the point all I could do was float on my back and gasp (I had swum to the middle, chasing after an inner tube that the wind had carried off, not realizing how far of a swim it might be to catch it). I really thought I might die. So I can imagine your panic and relief once you bumped into the life preserver! My friend brought me a floaty and I swear it saved my life!

    • Veronica, my conclusion about this whole incident was that it wasn’t my “time” yet… blessings kept me afloat! Sorry to hear about your scary adventure, too — glad you’re still here to tell the tale!

  5. My family used to have a catamaran when we lived in the tropics, and we used to spend a lot of time snorkelling on the great barrier reef. When the wind wasn’t too high and we were sailing (no motors at all) we used to jump off the front, float through the middle of the boat, and grab on to a floatation device on the end of a rope toed to the back of the boat. Then we’d haul ourselves in. Which was all well and good, until one time the wind picked up and it became harder to pull myself back in. And then the inevitable happened. my bikini bottoms started sliding off. I realised I coud either let go and catch my bikini, or the bottoms would come off and I’d have to haul myself back on to the boat bare-bummed. I chose to let go. Thankfully there were no steering issues and they were able to – eventually – turn around and come and grab me :)

    • Jas, I’ve only puddled in the ocean a time or two and it’s an entirely different set of parameters with swells and tides and undercurrents tugging at you. How frightening! I didn’t have to make “the decision” you did, but it’s evident you made the right decision. The only thing I lost was my glasses!

      • Yeah. Sitting in the open water waiting for them to come back was not the nicest experience, but I’m still convinced I made the right decision, given I was about 17 and a whole bunch of my friends were on the boat – I would have never lived it down :)

  6. Dear Kimby,

    I like sailing and here in Sydney, one can charter sailboats and sail around the harbour with a group and a skipper so we can concentrate on drinking the champagne and tucking into the oysters :)

    • The view from the harbor must be magnificent — an exhilarating perspective, especially while drinking champagne! Thankfully my “adventure” didn’t divert me from enjoying boating and one day I really do hope to experience sailing. Thanks for the glimpse!

  7. Wow! I’m glad you’re okay…yes the water is beautiful but it is also dangerous! I had something similar happen when I was a kid. We were boating near our cabin in Northern Canada when the motor propeller hit an underwater rock. The motor flipped right over into the boat and my sister (4) and I (11) were thrown around in the boat. Luckily the motor didn’t hit my dad and we stayed in the boat but got banged up a bit.We were wearing life jackets but they weren’t done up.

    I have been sailing. River yachting on the Swan River in Perth, Western Australia. It isn’t peaceful, well not the kind I did. It was a lot of work because we had a tiny yacht just large enough for our family. A lot of rope pulling and ducking and very little lounging in the sun :) And wayyyy too many rules!

    • Thank you for giving me your honest perspective on sailing. I suspected it wasn’t as “easy” as the movies made it seem. (LOL!) And oh my gosh (!!!)… your boating accident. It was bad enough getting thrown out of a boat — I can’t imagine the potential horror having a whirring, whizzing propeller comin’ at ya… very glad you survived to tell the tale!

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