Last week, hurricane, then tropical storm, Ernesto sort of roared up the coast and hit South Jersey. I figured our boat would be fine, since it was tied securely with two 1½” lines. I figured the fenders would help, too.
The winds here in Woodstown were in the 30 MPH range, just enough to make some noise and blow a few things around outside. Then I brought up The Weather Channel thing on my computer and noticed that the winds down around the Cape May/Wildwood area were sustained at about 51 MPH, with gusts up to 72. I started wondering if maybe I should have added a couple of spring lines, or something.
We made it down to the boat a couple of days later, and were relieved to see it still sitting in its slip. It looked a little funny, though, with the canvas missing from the top. Hmmm . . . Apparently, a fellow boater rescued the canvas, and placed it on the deck. The canvas itself was okay, but the wind ripped the zipper pockets off. The support frame was bent considerably, but I managed to straighten it.
We then discovered something else that we deemed interesting. The stern line was down to one of three strands, but some thoughtful fellow boater had secured the stern with line from one of our fenders.
I usually err on the side of caution with things like hurricanes, tropical storms, and gales. My attitude approaching indifference, in this case, seemed strange to me. For some reason, I never even thought about the canvas, probably the most vulnerable part of our boat!
But maybe my mind is becoming affected by the indifference of some of the other boaters out there on the waterways. Through the years, the amount of ignorance concerning rules of the road, common courtesy, and safety, has both amazed and annoyed me. No-wake zones apparently apply to only us and about 75 percent of the other boaters. The other 25 percent think that they were designated as no-wake zones only to inconvenience them from reaching their destinations at break-neck speeds.
The good news is that New Jersey passed a law this year requiring boaters to take a U.S. Coast Guard course on safety and rules of the road. The bad news is that apparently many people simply ignored what they considered as just another inconvenience for them.
Jet skis look like tons of fun, and are probably one of the greatest boating menaces ever created. They would be fine, if operated by relatively sane individuals acting responsibly, but like boats, they offer them to anyone who can come up with the money or financing. In NJ, taking a course is required, which doesn’t seem to stop anyone who doesn’t take the course from operating these things. This summer alone, three people were killed on jet skis in the back bays of South Jersey.
A young lady in her twenties drowned in Union Lake, in Millville, while swimming off a pontoon boat. Not surprisingly, no throwable personal flotation device (a requirement) was on the boat. Some boaters either never check to see what’s required by law, or simply ignore the inconveniences of maintaining a safe vessel.
There was no excuse for me not taking preventive measures to protect our boat from wind damage. If the vessel had broken loose, it could well have damaged other boats in the area. I can’t blame my negligence on the deficiencies of a small part of the boating world, and I’m thankful that someone else in the area at the time saved me from the consequences of indifference to a serious situation.