Joe Boater and the Undergarment



There are two types of sailors: those that recognize their Joe Boater moments; and those that lie. Their’s always something to be learned from Joe. Names have been omitted to protect the innocent AND the guilty.

Oh, Joe, you’ve invited two friends out on the sailboat for the day. It is a beautiful, hot, Saturday afternoon, as you make your way to Lake Union in Seattle. The lake is alive with people, and the air of great times is all around you. People are jumping from boats, swimming, and lounging on floaties.
One of your guests brought a swan floatie with aspirations of getting in the water too. You are apprehensive because, as a new experience with this boat, it’s unproven how you would get someone back on board. You have a rope ladder, to attach to a stern cleat, however, you have never actually used it to get back on board. You explain this to your guest, following up with, “one way or another, you know you can get them back on board.”
The freeboard of your boat is about 20 inches. The guest will sit on the cockpit coaming and lower themselves over the edge onto the floatie. First, you tie a line to the floatie and put it into the water. Next, the guest sits on the coaming, feet over the edge, and prepares to go overboard. At this point, there are hints that the guest may have more enthusiasm than prowess and that their body type and athleticism may not be a good match for the endeavor at hand. Still, you give cheers of encouragement.
The guest goes for it, but…..OH, NO..…as she slides off the coaming, her panties hook on the cleat. Momentum and weight carry her body to the water, stretching the panties the distance of the freeboard and your guest is now hanging over the side of the boat. In a panic, the other guest tries to unhook the panties from the cleat before exclaiming “I need a pair of scissors!” Between waves of shock and laughter, you have the strength to unhook the undergarment, and your guest finishes the trip to the water. The guest also did not land on top of the floatie. However, they can grab it, and everyone takes a moment to collect themselves from disbelief.
Holding onto the floatie soon becomes tiring. The guest expresses a desire to be sitting on it. They attempt to use the rope ladder to climb up on the floatie, but it swings under the boat, making the ascent much more difficult. It requires upper body strength they don’t have. They are unable to get on top of the floatie and enthusiasm for being in the water has waned.
This means the ladder can’t be used to board the boat either. Grabbing a vest style PFD, you have the guest put it on. It gives them effort-free floatation and supplies a harness for hoisting. Everyone can relax a bit. Leaning over the boat, you help adjust the buckles on the vest, making sure it is a secure and comfortable ride. You loop the mainsail halyard through the shoulder straps of the PFD. With a combined effort of the guest climbing the ladder, and the halyard on a winch, you hoist the guest back on board. The procedure is not elegant, but it works as intended, and everyone is back on board having a good laugh.
The takeaways are easy for Joe. Joe should not have allowed the guest to get into the water. He should have recognized a lack of athleticism in the guest and the challenges this would present in reboarding the boat. The ladder was an unproven method of boarding the boat. He should never have suggested it as a means of climbing back aboard without first trying it himself. From another angle, Joe did get an opportunity to rehearse a “man overboard” drill, to test his theory of how to perform a rescue in more dangerous circumstances. He appreciates the guest’s good nature regarding the experience, undignified as it was. The bruises and the pride will mend and the only real loss, a pair of panties.


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