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was in my pocket, saturated and useless.
I had severe pains in my right side. My
best chance of receiving assistance was to
get a call out on the VHF, but the radio
was at the helm, at the forward end of the
cockpit. Getting back into the boat would
have been much easier if Kick ‘n ‘Back had
a transom door. Instead, I had to somehow get up and over that stainless-steel
ladder, which seemed to me in my present
state akin to Everest’s North Face.
With a mixture of adrenaline and
determination, I hauled myself over the
stern rail, crawled forward, and was just
able to reach up and grab the VHF mike,
then press the red emergency distress
button on the front of the set. Almost
immediately, the Coast Guard opera-
tor acknowledged the call and asked for
the nature of the distress. I was halfway
through explaining my predicament when
the dockmaster at my marina jumped in
on the call. Tom had been monitoring the
radio while he worked and, recognizing
my voice, immediately jumped on his
bicycle and in a just a few minutes was
down at the boat. He stayed with me until
the emergency services arrived a moment
later. Badly shaken but glad to be alive,
I was taken by ambulance to the hospi-
tal. I had four broken ribs and a broken
shoulder. Sparky was just fine.
Thankfully, when I first installed my
VHF, I’d programmed an MMSI number
and connected it to the GPS. So even
if I hadn’t been able to speak, the Coast
Guard would’ve known I needed help.
Without the swim platform and ladder
attached to it, I wouldn’t have been able to
get back aboard the boat. Even so, it was
a real struggle to get over the transom.
Although my wife knew where I was, no
one else did. Given my medical condition,
I should have been wearing a flotation
device, and told the dockmaster I was on
the boat. Sometimes accidents happen in
familiar surroundings. I was very lucky
that I managed to get back aboard. If I
hadn’t regained consciousness when I did,
I’d have drowned.
John Foote, 76, is a pastor. The retired U.S.
Navy veteran served as a coxswain on
36-foot motor launches. P H
with his wife
Kick ‘n Back.