So, I've a lot of pictures and text and so forth on the new paddlewheel construction, which I'll post in a day or so, but--not at all based on anything I saw on the docks yesterday, mind you--this has been on my mind.
So, after thinking about this a bit, watching my slipmates, especially the newbies, deal with their boats and the water, I thought I would pass this along. Here are six, potentially disasterous things you can easily avoid on the water. Take them to heart and you'll be a lot less frustrated, I promise you.
First: The “Three Point Rule” is paramount. Whenever moving on, or getting off or on the boat, keep three points of contact at all times: two feet and a hand, two hands and a foot. . . avoid if at all possible stepping off the boat with both hands full. It's a formula for a fall. Boat decks can be slippery. Boats move, often suddenly and unexpectedly. Make sure you're ready and capable of coping with that if it happens.
Second: This is a boat, not a baseball field. Don't toss things unless there's no other option. In my time living aboard I've seen keys tossed from boat to dock (they missed, prompting an expensive locksmith visit and the even more expensive replacement of a wireless car key set), along with cell phones (they smashed) and a whole host of caps, floats, plates, tools, and assorted detritus, all of which either currently resides on the bottom below the docks or floated off downstream. HAND things off, and insist on the recipient saying “thank you” (an old Boy Scout trick) acknowledging they've got control of the item before you let go.
And in that regard: If you've got your cell phone, keys, etc. in your pocket or in your bag, you are unlikely to drop them off the dock. Wait until you hit dry land before you just HAVE to begin texting aunt Edna. I've seen some amazing juggling acts with keys and phones as people whip them out on the dock only to lose control of them.
Third: TURN OFF YOUR DOCK WATER WHEN YOU LEAVE!. I know of three boats now that sank, not because of leaks, but because the fresh water line from the dock was left on and a fitting broke aboard, filling the boat with water.
Fourth: Never, EVER wind a line around your hand when you're pulling it. You won't be able to let go quickly if you need to. I've seen hands smashed betwixt boat and dock because they were pulled down by the line they were holding and couldn't let go. I actually learned this one working for years in the theatre, working in what's called a "hemp loft" stage. . . .ropes and sandbags. I've seen more than one stagehand literally jerked off the ground because they couldn't let go of a line connected to waaaaaay too much counterweight.
Fifth: It's a boat. You're outside a lot. If you were camping, you'd wear sun block, bug spray, hats, sunglasses. . .all things to protect yourself from the elements. You need to do that on board. Reflection off the water can blast you with sunlight you aren't aware you're getting. Wind and salt can sap you of hydration, heat can do likewise. Pay attention to your body and what your surroundings are doing to it.
And Lastly: It's a boat. I know it doesn't happen often, but you can sink, you can fall overboard, hit your head, and drown. The ocean demands respect, and you forget that at your peril. Pay attention and you'll have a lovely time. Fail to and you may get an emergency room visit. . . .if you're lucky.