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When your DIY lets you down - and dunks you!

LadyInBed

Well-known member
Joined
2 Sep 2001
Messages
13,131
Location
Me - Zumerzet Boat - Wareham
To go up and down the river to get to my boat I use a GRP round bottom dinghy, which I leave at the boatyard. Some years back I made a seat for it so I sat a bit higher, to take the strain off my knee after a replacement op, which worked quite well. I knew the seat was now reaching it's end of life, and yesterday just after leaving the boatyard and turning into the main river my seat made the decision for me that it had now reached EoL and collapsed from under me.
I lost my balance, the engine tiller came over, the boat tipped, took in water, turned over and dumped me in the water underneath it! When I’m in the dinghy, I always hold onto the painter, and much to my surprise I still had hold of it. As it’s September, the water was quite warm, I managed to keep my mouth shut and didn’t take in any river water, I opened my eyes and managed to make out the shape of the side of the boat and the daylight beyond so ducker under the thwarts and surfaced. I should also say that for about sixteen years my main sport was SCUBA diving, so being underwater doesn’t phase me. Luckily, the river wasn’t running too strong so I swam toward the wharf pontoon ladder towing the upturned dinghy. I managed to reach a moored MoBo bow and ran out of puff, I managed to tie the painter to a D ring on the MoBo then headed for the ladder where I could stand on the bottom mud.
I had now gathered an audience of concerned boaters asking if I was ok, I said yes and would come up the ladder. Would you believe that the bottom rung of the ladder was at my chest level and no way could I pull myself up and get a dodgy knee onto the rung. My first thought was to drop a loop of rope down for me to put my foot in like a stirrup as a first step, but that didn’t work as the rope stretched too much under my weight. By this time the Wharf staff had arrived and they went and got a ladder, tied it to the pontoon ladder so I could climb out.

Everyone was wonderful and very helpful, a couple from a boat tied to the wharf made me a coffee, the lady from the boatyard office gave me a towel to rub myself down and Wharf staff righted my dinghy, pulled it up the slip, took the engine to their mechanic who dumped the two stroke and water mix from the tank, air hosed the engine down, started it on a blast of Quick Start, put some 50:1 in the tank and ran the engine for ten or so mins.

I was so lucky, nothing lost from the dinghy, oars and boathook tied on, waterproof bag, watch and car remote stayed waterproof and a running engine. The boatyard will present me with a bill for the retrieval and engine work, but it will be well worth it. Re-launched the dinghy and resumed my trip to the boat. The rest of the day was uneventful.

Some may wonder if I had an LJ on – no, I never do. Thinking about it, if I had one on with self inflation the story could have been different, I think I could have been trapped under the dinghy!
 

Sea-Fever

Active member
Joined
27 Jun 2017
Messages
416
Location
Port Solent
Thanks for sharing, good story. Even better that it now sits in our collective imagination rather than YouTube. That's ours to keep! Glad you're OK.
 

longjohnsilver

Well-known member
Joined
30 May 2001
Messages
17,059
Being a diver really does make a difference. The last time I fell in was in Braye Harbour late at night. My partner and other friends were extremely worried, but for me it was almost enjoyable swimming in the warm water. My main concern was losing my dark coloured crocs, but I managed to retrieve them fairly easily.
Pleased it all worked out well for you. Iirc you used to dive out of Lyme Regis? I’ve been diving today off Beer, very fruitful day!
 

PhillM

Well-known member
Joined
15 Nov 2010
Messages
3,386
Location
Solent
Glad it worked out. Sounds like the boatyard an and other boaters did you proud too.
 
Joined
19 May 2018
Messages
79
Yes, we always wear relatively basic manual inflation jackets in the dinghy - little chance of being clonked by the boom and going in the water unconscious, no getting snarled up by an auto inflate jacket and cheaper if they get nicked ashore.

I've only fallen in once and found it easy to swim to shore with an uninflated jacket.
 

LittleSister

Well-known member
Joined
12 Nov 2007
Messages
10,969
Location
Me Norwich - Boat Orwell & Southwold
Good to hear you were OK in the end.

I've always thought a buoyancy aid much preferable to a lifejacket for dinghy work (and other situations) where you might need to swim and manoeuvre.

Would you believe that the bottom rung of the ladder was at my chest level and no way could I pull myself up and get a dodgy knee onto the rung.
I hope the boatyard is going to rectify this outrageous design fault.

(It's almost funny as an example of a dodgy H & S 'tick-list' mentality that entirely misses the point.)
 

prv

Well-known member
Joined
29 Nov 2009
Messages
36,409
Location
Southampton
(It's almost funny as an example of a dodgy H & S 'tick-list' mentality that entirely misses the point.)
Only if the ladder was put there as a rescue aid, rather than being a normal quayside ladder for boarding boats or getting to a pontoon. It’s not clear from the OP which it was.

Pete
 

LadyInBed

Well-known member
Joined
2 Sep 2001
Messages
13,131
Location
Me - Zumerzet Boat - Wareham
Only if the ladder was put there as a rescue aid, rather than being a normal quayside ladder for boarding boats or getting to a pontoon. It’s not clear from the OP which it was.

Pete
TBH I don't know.
My assumption is that they are for boarding boats, but for the cost of a couple of extra rungs on the ladders (I could feel that the ladder poles went to the river bed) it has got to be an oversight.
I will certainly discuss it with them.
 

mainsail1

Well-known member
Joined
27 May 2008
Messages
2,056
Location
Returned to South Coast from West Coast of Scotlan
Funny that the RNLI have latched firmly onto the mantra "always wear a life jacket". It is too simplistic. I also would not be around today if I had worn a life jacket on the day many years ago when the boat I was on overturned. I can think of other more recent tragic cases....Torbay and on the East Coast but they are ignored and the mantra goes on.
 

SimonFa

Well-known member
Joined
25 Feb 2013
Messages
4,362
Location
Me North Dorset. Venezia in Portland.
Glad that it ended well.

Some may wonder if I had an LJ on – no, I never do. Thinking about it, if I had one on with self inflation the story could have been different, I think I could have been trapped under the dinghy!
I wear a manual LJ when in the dinghy or doing rib safety boat work for similar reasons, there are more situations when you're better off without it inflating and you're less likely to be unconscious than if you'd had an accident on the boat. Plus more likely to be other people around.
 

Yngmar

Well-known member
Joined
6 Dec 2012
Messages
2,630
Location
Gone cruising
But did you wear a kill cord or did the outboard die quickly enough once it was upside down and breathing water? :unsure:
 

LadyInBed

Well-known member
Joined
2 Sep 2001
Messages
13,131
Location
Me - Zumerzet Boat - Wareham
But did you wear a kill cord or did the outboard die quickly enough once it was upside down and breathing water? :unsure:
Kill cord not in use.
I heard it running for a couple or three seconds when it was upside down then cut out. When the mechanic got it in the workshop, as I said, it was about 50/50 two-stroke / water.
 
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