WHAT THE …?
Now here’s the pressing question: What do
you do? The rpm are way up and the boat
is accelerating forward. Without the throttle
handle, there’s no way to reduce the speed.
We could not turn and thread our way out of
the marina with this increasing acceleration,
and we had only seconds before we started
smashing up lots of expensive boats, not to
mention our own! This comes about as close
to staring into the boating abyss as one can
without actually sinking.
Fortunately, I didn’t have time to brood
on all my failures as a human being and skipper. I couldn’t possibly turn the peg with my
weak little fingers. Shutting off the engine still
would leave us moving forward too quickly
with no way to maneuver the boat even as it
slowly slows down. Would the engine even
shut down at such high rpm? I don’t know!
If it does stop, then our boat stops powerless in mid-marina, caught by the wind! Get
the anchor down? Now, there’s a seamanlike
idea, but I knew with dreadful instinct that
there just wasn’t time or room enough in the
confines of the marina maze.
And then, with an instantaneous flash of
brilliance (although I do not remember think-
But it worked. Perfectly. It gripped the little
steel peg and turned it just as effectively as
the handle — nay, better. I smoothly used the
Vise-grip to decelerate, and neatly motored out
of the marina. We never yelled, or screamed,
or swore. We’d been struck dumb. And we
had a lovely day on the water. Disaster averted
by my quick action, I modestly say.
Of course, we now make sure that all bolts
and attachments are secure and solid, and
that levers and such are working smoothly.
I recommend you do likewise. Just in case,
though, have a Vise-grip handy. It’s a dandy
LESSONS LEARNED: (This is going to be
short.) Make sure that the fittings on the helm
(and everywhere) are sound and that everything is not just “unbroken,” but working as
smoothly as designed. It’s not a bad idea to
have a toolbox with Vise-grips and other useful tools in a readily accessible spot.
Diane and Steve Schwartz, BoatU.S. members
since 1986, have cruised and sailed in New York
state, Lake Ontario, and the St Lawrence River
for many years. Since 2001 they have based
Wind Dancer, their 1993 Hunter 30, in Sackets
Harbor, New York. They’ve trailered smaller sailboats for cruising in the Chesapeake and chartered in the Bahamas. They live in Ithaca, New
York and retired from teaching in 2003. Visit
their website at: www.coldduck.org/cruises.htm
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