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Author Topic:   Assistance Not Provided
weekendwarrior posted 08-20-2015 11:54 AM ET (US)   Profile for weekendwarrior   Send Email to weekendwarrior  
Have you ever witnessed something that went wrong, and afterword felt a little guilty because you could have helped but for whatever reason didn't get involved at the time?

I'll go first; we were staying in cabins at a fish camp, boats docked behind the cabins. I saw our neighbor doing something to his boat and I got the impression he might be new at this. I chatted with him for a few minutes and he talked like he has been boating for a while so I went with that assumption. Bright and early in the morning I see him pulling away with an electric trolling motor mounted next to his main motor, and fully deployed, and I thought nothing of it. He must know what he's doing and he must be idling to the next canal to fish, so I won't say anything. Later that night he returns sans trolling motor. Apparently he left it down while going full throttle across the lake and it popped off and dissappeared into the lake. He apparently didn't realize that he had to raise the trolling motor before going full speed. I felt guilty for not trusting my gut and saying something when I saw him pulling away..

leadsled posted 08-20-2015 02:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for leadsled  Send Email to leadsled     
At least it was only a electric motor. A friend of mine had has 8 hp Tohatsu tied to the boat with a rope in case it fell off which it did on a couple of times. He used to go from fishing spot to fishing spot at like 35-40 mph. He said he looked back and there was the motor dancing in his wake. Well one day Im at the dealer and he was there buying a new 8 hp Tohatsu. He said he forgot to tie the engine to the boat. Ouch!

contender posted 08-20-2015 06:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
Works a couple ways, I have seen things happen with a boat and try a warn the owner/capt. and they say they know what they are doing, so I walk away. Then they are some people that really have no business having a boat, they do just because they have money. Then some people are really thankful for the help. If I see some thing dangerous or that will get a person a ticket I will warn them, otherwise now I kinda mine my own business.
jimh posted 08-21-2015 01:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I see people driving their vehicles, usually older passenger cars, with very badly under-inflated tires. I try to tell them about it, but they are always driving so fast that I can't catch up with them. If I do catch up to them, they're always talking on the cellular telephone, and I can't get their attention. I feel badly that I couldn't warn them about their tire being very under-inflated. I was going to make up a sign that I could hold up in the window--YOUR TIRE IS LOW.
tedious posted 08-21-2015 08:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for tedious  Send Email to tedious     
Yes, unfortunately many people don't want to hear it. My non-boating-related experience was trying to tell someone getting on a bicycle that the quick release on their front wheel was not secured properly, and they were risking their life riding it. I offered to fix it, but the individual insisted that his son had fastened it properly, and that he knew what he was doing. Never saw the guy again so I don't know how the story turned out - likely not very well.


jimh posted 08-21-2015 01:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Here are two boating incidents regarding offering assistance:

Mind Reading

Last summer we were heading for the boat ramp in Little Current, Ontario, to haul the boat after a week of cruising and living aboard. As we were approaching the ramp, another Boston Whaler boat appeared, coming from the opposite direction. They beat us to the ramp by about 100-feet. I thought it was unusual that there were two boats arriving at this ramp almost simultaneously at this time--it was about 11 a.m. on a weekday--and both were Boston Whaler boats.

The other Boston Whaler tied to the head of the 100-foot-long courtesy dock near the ramp. We tied up at the far end of the dock, about 50-feet behind the first boat.

The other Boston Whaler boat had only a helmsman aboard, but I realized that his wife had just pulled up to the ramp with their tow vehicle and boat trailer. They were ready to load the boat almost immediately. I walked away from the ramp area into the parking lot to retrieve my truck and trailer, which were parked several hundred yards away.

The truck had been baking in the sun for a week with the windows rolled up, it was a very warm day already, and I opened the door, rolled down the windows, and let the truck cool off for a couple of minutes before getting in. I drove over to the ramp.

The other couple had already moved their trailer onto the ramp and positioned it for loading. I parked my truck in the approach to the ramp, which is at right angles to the ramp. My truck was not in any way impeding the ramp for hauling out a boat on the ramp. I walked to the ramp and began walking out the long courtesy dock toward my boat.

At that moment the other boater was just casting off from the courtesy dock to move his boat onto the trailer. His wife was standing by on the courtesy dock.

As I walked along the courtesy dock, the other boater yells over to me, in a tone of voice that seemed rather annoyed and sarcastic, saying:

"Thanks for all your help."

This was the first word of communication that had passed between us in our lives. I didn't know the fellow from Adam, had never seen him before, and had not engaged in any prior conversation with him. I was very surprised at his comment, which seemed to be given in anger and hostility.

His wife was standing on the dock, and as I came up to her, I said:

"I'd be glad to help you out, but you'll have to excuse me; I am not a mind reader. I don't know why your husband is so upset. If he needs help he ought to consider asking for it."

The woman replied with something along this line: "Don't worry, he always gets a bit upset at the boat ramp."

Although I had just made it clear I would be glad to help them, either the fellow or his wife asked me for any help. I continued down the dock to my boat and began preparing it for loading.

When the first boat cleared the ramp, I went back to the truck and backed the trailer down the ramp. We loaded the boat. We didn't have any further communication with the other couple.

Ramp traffic began to pick-up. As we were hauling the trailer and boat up the ramp, another boater drove up with a trailered boat and began to prepare to launch. I don't know if he was going to become upset and angry because I didn't stop my work with my boat to offer to help him.

Unsolicited Help

Another ramp incident involving assistance occurred recently. We came to the ramp on a weekday afternoon. There were no boats waiting to load or launch. We tied to the courtesy dock at the ramp. I fetched the trailer, only about 75-feet away, and backed it down the ramp. Chris and I were on the courtesy dock, maneuvering the boat by lines forward and onto the trailer for initial loading.

While standing on the dock and just as the boat glided onto the trailer position for loading, a fellow appeared and waded into the water at the ramp. He began handling my trailer's winch strap and connecting the strap hook to the bow-eye of my boat. Then he went back to the winch and started to reel-in the winch strap. All this occured without a word from him.

I am a bit taken-aback by this, but I didn't say anything to the fellow to indicate I want him to stop. I walked down the dock, made a U-turn, and got to the back of the truck and the winch. The fellow had then decided he didn't like the way the winch strap was reeling onto the winch and he began to pay out the strap so it could be done again. At this point I said something to him to let him know I would take over and thanked him for his (unsolicited) help.

The intrusion of the assistant into the loading process had upset our usual routine for loading, so we had to shove the boat back off the trailer to correct the alignment. In the process, the winch reel picked up some speed and I stupidly managed to get struck by the handle, now spinning around rapidly and with some force behind it. It struck me on the palm of my left hand on the meaty part of my thumb root. It was a rather forceful blow and it hurt.

The water temperature on this day was about 44-degrees at the ramp. It was very cold water. I immediately immersed my left hand into the cold water. The pain of the cold water soon exceeded the pain from the trauma of the winch handle hitting my palm. I pulled my hand out for a moment and re-immersed it until it was just about numb. Then we finished winching the boat onto the trailer and hauled it out.

A large bruise developed on my left palm and ran down my left forearm about 8-inches. For the next several days I lived on Motrin four-times-a-day. Fortunately, nothing was broken, and after a day or two the swelling went down. After two weeks the bruise was gone.

I suppose this might be rationalization, but I suspect that if the fellow had not jumped-in and started winching up the winch strap, I probably would not have gotten into the predicament with the mis-loading of the boat that resulted, and I would not have nearly broken my left hand with the blow from the winch handle. I have loaded the boat perhaps 100-times and never had that happen. The abnormality of having to shove the boat off the trailer while the winch strap was still attached led to the handle spinning wildly, and my own stupidity or carelessness led to me getting hit by it.


The two incidents demonstrate very different amounts of expectation of help and of offering help. In the first incident, the other boater apparently was operating with an expectation that it was obligatory for me to offer to cease my own work with my boat and help him load his boat, and, since I did not spontaneously come forward and offer assistance, I had violated some sort of code among trailer boaters and angered him.

In the second incident the other fellow apparently was following some unspoken rule that he must offer help and also operating under the assumption that I would immediate welcome and benefit from his assistance. He spontaneously inserted himself into the process of loading our boat.

I don't operate under either of those assumptions or acknowledge any of those rules governing a boat ramp. I don't assume everyone wants or needs my help, but, if I am asked for help, I would be willing to provide whatever help I could. I don't typically need help in loading my boat, and I don't expect people to just jump-in. In fact, I would prefer they didn't just jump in, as their assistance may not result in any benefit, and might actually cause more harm than good. My view is simple: provide help if asked and you can, but don't just jump into someone else's process uninvited.

jimh posted 08-21-2015 01:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
As corollary to the two incidents above, I also have a rule about tossing lines to people at a dock as we approach: don't do it. I have learned from experience that if you are approaching a dock--making the perfect approach, let's say--and you toss a dock line to someone standing at the dock, that person will immediately begin to haul in the line and your boat with all his might, resulting in the boat slamming into a dock that it otherwise would never had hit but with the most gentle of brushing against.
weekendwarrior posted 08-21-2015 04:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for weekendwarrior  Send Email to weekendwarrior     
At one of our local ramps, in a rougher part of town but in a prime location, there was a homeless guy who would walk up and down the docks jumping in to help unsolicited. His hope was to get a tip, but this always made me nervous and I avoided him. There was at least one shooting at that ramp, and my brother was almost run over by a couple of drunks who were fighting in their boat causing one to fall on the throttles. I now pay the $10 per launch to use the private ramp down the street to avoid that crowd and the free help..
Buoy posted 08-21-2015 08:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buoy  Send Email to Buoy     
My actions tend to fall on the other end of the spectrum where I do help out and feel like a jerk afterwards for helping out someone who turned out to be a jerk.

Just the other day I see this jet skiier dragging his broken down jet ski in the water past my dock. So I scoot out to see if all is okay. Apparently he was on his way back to port but heading the wrong direction. I correct his course and offer to tow him as nighttime was coming quickly.

The guy gets in my boat and begins bragging how he stole the jetski for $80 because the seller was down on his luck and that his family is well-off, and so on and so on. I hated that guy and couldn't wait to dump his ass off at the dock.

timf posted 08-23-2015 02:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for timf  Send Email to timf     
I had a Zodiac I was pulling out of the water at a local ramp. The trailer bunkers were fairly high and the axle toward the rear so I didn't need to tilt the motor up to keep it from hitting the ramp.

As I was winching the boat onto the trailer, I hear a man standing there with his son say, "He left his motor down - watch this!".

I may have ruined his entertainment since I didn't ruin my lower unit as he was expecting. But, if I were standing there and thinking someone was about to wreck their boat, I'd speak up!

kmev posted 08-23-2015 09:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for kmev  Send Email to kmev     
My Mercury Black Max blew a piston a half mile from the launch ramp. I managed to flag down the one other boat on the lake that evening and asked for a tow to the ramp, which was in sight. The water was glass calm. He politely stated, "No, sorry," and motored off. A neighbor launched his boat to come get me.
weekendwarrior posted 08-24-2015 01:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for weekendwarrior  Send Email to weekendwarrior     
In my teenage-years we took a new-to-us boat with under deck fuel tank fishing off the coast of Jupiter Florida, the same inlet where those unfortunate kids departed from recently. We thought we were being responsible and keeping an eye on the gasoline and headed for the inlet with about 1/3-Full tank showing on the gauge. At about 1/4-Full left and several miles south east of Jupiter inlet, the gasoline ran out. Here we are, a few teenagers in a dead boat several miles from the beach jumping up and down waving our life jackets, and countless boats zoomed by. This was well before cell phones and radios were not in our teenage budgets, so we start paddling. Fortunately one person decided to stop and gave us a tow to the beach, where we swam ashore, found a pay phone and got a buddy to bring us some gasoline. We swam back to the boat with the gasoline, and drove it home. Thankfully that person did provide assistance, or I might not be here typing right now! Those were fun times. :)
dfmcintyre posted 08-24-2015 04:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Back in the early 70's, I once pulled-in the local sheriff's department marine vessel. Their engine overheated. It turned out I had forgotten the incident, but he didn't--he was the officer that did my background check.


msirof2001 posted 08-24-2015 07:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for msirof2001  Send Email to msirof2001     
I was crossing from Newport Beach, California to Avalon on Catalina Island, a distance of 26-nautical miles. About halfway, I encountered a small 18-foot tri-hull with about seven people aboard. Their engine died. Conditions were 100-mile visibility, glassy water, and a mild swell. They didn't have a radio. They waved me over. I stayed with them, fully describing to the USCG their situation, number of people, nature of distress, assessment of immediate danger, etc. Coast Guard found a tow vessel that was about 10 miles away. Through multiple readings, the USCG was able to calculate the boat's drift direction and speed.

Meanwhile, one of my passengers was getting seasick. They were not quite there yet, but we really needed to get back to a cruising speed. Our day had just begun. These people had no business being where they were with what they had. USCG really wanted me to stay with the boat until the tow vessel arrived, estimated to be 30 to 45-minutes. BYE

cleep1700 posted 08-24-2015 07:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for cleep1700  Send Email to cleep1700     
This past weekend I was out with the Whaler on Carlyle Lake in southern Illinois. A storm blew up quickly out of the west with lightning, and many boats headed to the dock, which had a ramp leading to dock access on the north side and a ramp and dock access on the south side with an extra ramp but no dock. Upon our arriving at the dock we found some yokel had tied up and was occupying the north side ramp and dock and was no where in sight. We all waited our turns to load out our boats on the other side with boats approaching the dock off loading somebody to get the trailer and use the ramp and dock on the south side. When my turn came, the fellas who owned the tied-up boat sauntered down to the docks loudly, carrying cans of beer in their hands, slowly got in their boat, cast off, and turned into a strong west wind and choppy water without saying a word. I wanted to say something about what asses they were and how inconsiderate they were, but let it go, knowing they wouldn't have heard a word. I don't generally wish ill will on people but....
EJO posted 08-25-2015 11:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for EJO  Send Email to EJO     
As Jim said: it is hard to read people's minds. I still make a comment or [offer] help when needed. Just last weekend I saw an old 18-foot pontoon with 16 people on board. I asked if the skipper had PFDs for all aboard; he answered, "None of your business." I was just worried about the seven kids on board. The pontoon deck was almost even with the water. I left it alone and luckily did not hear anything bad on the news.

I did offer a stranded ski boater a ride back to their dock several weeks [before] that, and with many thanks, as one of the teenagers was thinking of swimming the 1-1/2 mile. Most boaters will help each other, but I never solicit help before asking or being asked for obvious reasons.

contender posted 08-25-2015 08:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
EJO--you should have called the marine patrol, and then waved as you drove pass them.
muskrat posted 09-04-2015 07:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for muskrat  Send Email to muskrat     
Questioning a captain about safety equipment in front of passengers and crew may undermine the captain's authority [and] may cause orders to be ignored in an emergency situation.
jimh posted 09-04-2015 10:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Huh? If a boat's captain does not have proper safety equipment on-board, what makes you so sure his orders ought to be followed?

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