By John Foote
My wife, Patricia, and I enjoy spending time aboard Kick ‘n’ Back, our 33-foot Cruisers, along with our third crewmember, Sparky, a 5-year-old Labrador mix. We keep the boat at Broad Creek Marina, a small one near Washington, North Carolina, just a few miles from our home. I do most of our maintenance,
so having the boat handy allows me both to work on projects and just hang out
and enjoy being on the water as often as possible.
I Was That Man Overboard!
One minute, all is well. The next, he experiences an unexpected swim. Alone.
Luckily, a good Samaritan saves the day
It was early April, and I wanted to
get a jump on some lingering chores.
Patricia, who had some errands to run,
dropped Sparky and me at the boat.
After awhile, Sparky had to do what dogs
do and needed a run ashore. Our boat
doesn’t have a transom door. You need to
climb up and over the transom via a short
stainless-steel ladder – easy for me, not so
convenient for a dog.
I climbed over first and reached to
lift Sparky onto the swim platform, from
where he could easily jump to the dock
and run up the ramp to the grass at the
top. Suddenly, I blacked out. Next thing
I knew I was in the water under my boat,
which sits in about 12 feet of water at the
dock. I could feel the muddy bottom with
my left hand. Due to an injury I sustained
while stationed in the Mediterranean
with the U.S. Navy, I have a partial artificial arm on my right side and some nerve
damage that on rare occasions causes me
to black out for short periods.
The water was cold, and I was in pain
and disoriented, unsure of exactly where
I was or where the surface of the water
was. I saw what I thought was a beam of
light, which guided my way to the sur-
face. Kicking my legs and clawing with
my good arm, I broke the surface and,
as luck would have it, was immediately
behind Kick ‘n ‘Back. Fortunately, the boat
has a swim platform. I pulled the ladder
down, overcoming the resistance of the
bungee cord holding it in place. To this
day, I have no idea how I managed to
pull myself up the ladder and onto the
swim platform, but I did. I lay there for a
few minutes, shivering and catching my
breath. It was a weekday early in the sea-
son, and no one was in sight. I called out
for help, but no one came. My cellphone ILLU