Friday, May 20, 2011

Safety First

SlowBoat climbed the flight of five locks at Waterford yesterday, gaining 170 feet in elevation and entering the Mohawk River. In mid-lockage, we picked up a  guest: local public radio reporter Marie Cusick, who covers the innovation-and-technology beat for WMHT in Troy, New York.

It took a bit of strategizing to get Marie on board, because (in the interests of safety) the canal system rule is: Once your boat enters the flight of locks, it must keep on going.  (You can't let a reporter hop aboard from the lock wall.) But everything worked out.

Marie was mainly interested in our cool technology.  But she also asked this question:  "Looking back on your trip, were you ever scared?"

It really made us think.  About that lock on the Trent Severn where we would be exiting into a fast current that flowed inexorably toward a hydro dam. "I honestly don't think a boat this slow can make it across the current," said the locktender.  (Obviously, we did.)

Then there was the sudden lightning storm that caught us far from shore on Lake Huron. (Thinking quickly, Cap lashed the boathook to the tiller to make it longer, so he could step down inside the boat and steer under cover.)

How about the time in South Carolina when we wrapped the anchor line around the prop shaft? (Cap stripped to his skivvies and went over the side into the frigid water with a knife in his teeth. The crew did some really expert worrying.)

Thrilling stories all.  But bottom line, this trip has been exceptionally placid.  Scary moments were few and far between.  We think a big reason is our extreme caution.  We don't take chances.  We talk about how to handle problems before we encounter them.  And we adhere to the boater's motto: "We have a plan, and we're NOT sticking to it."  If the forecast looks bad, if the water is high, if we're running short on daylight, well, we don't take chances.

"Personally, I was never scared. My first mate
handled all the necessary worrying."
So even though we began this adventure with just one week's worth of boating experience, we've made it through a year on the water without major mishaps. (Don't let me jinx it!) Yesterday, as the crew teetered on the boat's narrow side walkway, Cap reflected, "Hey, it's been a whole year, and neither one of us has fallen in."

But if we HAD fallen in, we would have been good. Because we wear our life jackets consistently.   We may be crazy, but we're not stupid.

Tomorrow, May 21, marks the start of National Safe Boating Week.  And if the National Safe Boating Council could give you just one message, it would be this:  Wear your life jacket.  80 percent of fatal boating accidents are drownings.  In 90 percent of those cases, the victim was jacketless.

OK, end of lecture.  But seriously, wear the darn thing.  (And if you wrap a line around your prop, please, call a tow service!)

More photos from our recent adventures HERE.  (Tell us you like 'em!)

1 comment:

  1. Bald Eagle Power Squadron thanks you for the shout out to Safe Boating Week! We were at Raystown Lake promoting life jacket awareness too!