You know how great a boat can be when you need to air out your brain? For me, taking out our 20-foot Zodiac center-console for a spin seems to do the trick when I need
to chill out. One afternoon last fall, for instance, I jumped aboard for a run down the
river. The temperature was cold but not yet frigid, and with a cozy fleece, long pants,
and the afternoon sunshine, I was warm enough. Before I motored away from the dock –
practically without even thinking at this point – I threw on my lifejacket, clipped on the
engine cut-off tether, and turned the portable VHF on to Channel 16.
There were few other boats on the river that day, and I began to think about some
sobering U.S. Coast Guard statistics that had come across my desk that morning, about
boating casualties occurring with far more frequency among people boating alone. Surely,
I wouldn’t be a statistic. Right? Working for BoatU.S., with a steady stream of more safety
information in front of me than most people see, I heed it all as a matter of course. My
engine cut-off switch would stop the engine. I was wearing flotation. I’d told my husband
the general direction I was going and when I’d be back, so officially, I’d filed a float plan.
But realistically, it began to dawn on me, no one would miss me for hours. So, if I fell
overboard, I figured, I’d float around in or near the boat, get pretty darn cold, and spend
some quality hours in the water. But I’d still be OK, right?
Well, maybe not, the more I thought about it. I had a cellphone, but forget that. If I
went overboard, it would be useless. So I put the waterproof handheld VHF on its lanyard
around my neck and tucked it under my jacket; if I went into the water, my communication with the outside world was coming with me. But there were other considerations, the
more I thought about it. I remembered trying to re-board this boat in the summer. Let
me tell you, looking up from sea level at the altitude of a wide RIB tube is like contemplating Mt. Kilimanjaro. I’d tried climbing up the shank of our big outboard, but couldn’t
get a grip or a foothold.
I rummaged around, took one of the red dock lines, tied it securely to the leaning
post closest to the tube, and securely tucked the loose end into the webbing closest to
the water, tied with a half hitch so it wouldn’t trail into the water or prop while I was
running. With that line, and a bowline tied to create a loop I could step into, I could lift
myself back into the boat. Yatzee! And actually, for
colder water, I should really have an auto-inflate or
inherently buoyant lifejacket, not a manual inflate.
Contemplating all these contingencies got my
mind refocused, for sure, as I puttered around enjoying the fall colors that dressed the trees ashore and
the soft waning light. Next time, I determined, as I
turned the boat toward home, if I need to clear my
head, I’ll bring a good book, camera, or fishing rod.
I’ve done what I can. It’s time to relax.
Get Prepped. Then Relax!
AT THE HELM
Margaret Bonds Podlich, BoatU.S. President
Margaret Bonds Podlich, BoatU.S. President
Your annual subscription to this award-
winning magazine is one of the many
benefits of BoatU.S. membership.
To reach our Member Services
department, or to learn more about joining
BoatU.S. call 800-395-2628 or email
BOATU.S. CHAIRMAN & FOUNDER
BOATU.S. PRESIDEN T
Margaret Bonds Podlich
CONSULTING EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
EXECUTIVE EDITOR Michael Vatalaro
TECHNICAL EDITOR Beth Leonard
ASSOCIATE EDI TOR Mark Corke
CONSUMER EDITOR Charles Fort
EDITOR AT-LARGE Tom Neale
John Adey, Bob Adriance, Don Casey
Elaine Dickinson, Ann Dermody
Ryck Lydecker, Tim Murphy
Troy Gilbert (Gulf Coast)
Melanie Neale (Florida)
Patricia Rains ( West Coast)
Dan Armitage (Great Lakes)
PUBLIC AFFAIRS ASSOCIATE
MEDIA ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT
PROOFREADER John Wilson
Rick Kelvington, Marcus Floro
DIRECTOR OF ADVERTISING
ADVERTISING SALES MANAGER
CLASSIFIED ADVER TISING
880 S. Pickett St.
Alexandria, VA 22304
Address change: 800-395-2628
©BoatU.S. Magazine (ISSN 1090-1272) Published
bimonthly by Boat Owners Association of The United
States, 880 South Pickett St., Alexandria, VA 22304
(six issues). Periodicals Postage Paid at Alexandria,
VA and at additional mailing offices. Member dues
include $6 for subscription (not deductible from dues).
Contact BoatU.S. for permission to reprint articles, (703)
461-2864. POSTMASTER: Send Change of Address to
BoatU.S. Magazine, 880 South Pickett St., Alexandria,
VA 22304 (2016).
VOLUME XXII, No. 1, FEBRUARY/MARCH 2016