Joe Boater Wraps It Up

Oh Joe! It’s early in the season and you have headed to Blake Island for an overnight. With just a few boats at the marina upon arrival, you have your choice of spots. The wind is forecast from the North for the next day so you pick a south side, facing the direction you will be leaving, and tie up for the night.

After a peaceful evening, you prep to leave. You are single handing and the brisk north wind will blow you off the dock. You talk it through with your crew. “Self, there is another dock about 60 feet to your south. We have the outboard running. First, we’ll untie the lines and have them both ready in hand. We’ll hop on and the boat will drift off of the dock. We’ll engage the forward gear and head out. Ready? Here we go.”

That brisk north wind was stronger than you first anticipated and it quickly blew the boat off the dock. You were able to hop on but the line releases were uneven with the stern line going first. This causes the stern to swing off the dock and the boat is no longer facing the way you wanted it to go. You improvise as you drift backwards towards the dock to the south. You engage the motor in reverse and rather than going out forwards, you continue the spin all the way around and go out backwards. This works and you are pleased with both your recovery and how your skill in backing this boat is improving.

Once you are clear of the docks you will go into forward and drive out. You prep the crew. “Self, are you ready? Here we go.” You engage the motor and the boat begins to move forward. Oh-no! The very instant you heard the motor bog down you knew what was wrong. The next instant you heard the “clunk” and then…silence.

In the hurried recovery of the “not as planned” undocking maneuver, you failed to pull the stern line in, which was dragging in the water. When you were backing, it was led forward. When you went forward the line was led backwards, directly into the ‘ propeller of the outboard.

There was another boat at the dock directly in front of you. Amazingly they were just stepping out to walk their dog. “Help!” you called as you hurried to the bow. You had just enough forward momentum to head straight towards their boat. You were able to hand them your bow line and they were able to fend you off. Between the wind and them walking the boat along their port side, with ease, you were able to guide your boat to the exact same spot on the dock you were in before you left! “Incredible!”

After tying up and taking about 15 minutes to settle your heart rate down, you suss the prop. The outboard is tilted up and it is on the dockside part of the transom. The stern line is wrapped very tightly around the propeller three times. Cutting it off is the only option, however, no diving and no hanging off the stern is required as you can work from the comfort of the dock. You take another 15 minutes to hack it off, you start and test the motor and everything is now working fine. You thank the gentleman on the other boat graciously and ask, “Do you mind giving me a hand off the dock?”

Joe felt pretty lucky. He blew the undocking procedure by allowing the stern line to release first. He might have asked for a hand from the other boat in the first place. He was so caught up in the recovery that he did not consider his lines in the water. This is a classic case of how when things go wrong, it can create a cascade of events. This was his first prop wrap. He always knew of the potential consequences of stray lines in the water, but there’s nothing like a good lesson to reinforce future diligence. The recovery was amazing luck and Joe knows he might not be so lucky if there is a next time.


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