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Old 12-10-2016, 01:45 PM   #1
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A Cautionary Tale

I am going to cut the tops off both my water tanks (they are part of the hull and deck) so I needed to get the thickness of the deck plating before I actually started to cut, so that I could order the correct fasteners and have some plate standing by in case of a hack job. I took a friend along to help measure things and make notes for me, I also wanted to make sure Old Shiny was weathering the winter well.

One of my winter procedures is to open cupboards and access points, as well as a hatch in the middle of the galley floor which accesses "the basement" and in its previous life, the pantry. When you stand on the floor (the hull) in the hatch, your mid-chest-and-above stick out of the opening. I always put a heater in the engine room and one in the head, the air circulates and stays nice and dry.

I go to the engine room to get my tape and my vernier caliper in order to start measuring. My friend puts on his reading glasses and starts looking for my logbook or some useful paper to write things on.

I hear a loud cry and drop my tape and run up to the galley. There is my friend with one leg on the floor and the rest of him in the hatch-hole. I calm him down and we do an inventory and he has pain in his ribs and his knee (the one he left behind on the floor) so I put my arms around his chest from the back and help him climb out of the hole.

He can walk and it's clear nothing is actually broken but he's pretty sore. I feel like an idiot and am thoroughly disgusted with myself as we abandon the project and head for home to minister to his wounds.

Whenever I or my wife open the hatch to get some goodies from the basement, we tell the other and anybody else onboard that it's open and put a chair in the way until its closed. It's worked for three years without incident. This time, the hatch was open, the fridge was open and there was winter crap all over the galley. I took it for granted that my friend could see it was open and it never crossed my mind that he hadn't seen it. Wearing his reading glasses only, his peripheral vision was blocked and the reading focal length made the floor blurry (you other glasses wearers will understand) so he never saw the yawning hole in the floor until he backed into it.

We always gave a boarding-point safety briefing for any one who stepped foot on our boat for a cruise, but our new procedure is to brief each other and all guests and hand them an inflatable life jacket which becomes theirs for the visit, (and we encourage to wear) even if the boat is firmly tied up and even if we only plan a quick visit or an evening on the back deck. I can see a checklist in our future.

The moral of this story is that boats are terrific toys and excellent pastimes and we spend a lot of time living on them. They are, however, incredibly dangerous things that can kill or maim you very quickly. Everything from drowning to spinning shafts to fuel, chemicals, extreme heat and (cough) open hatches. Or you can get run down by a ferry while sitting on the bog!

I still feel like an idiot but I and my friend are both healing. I don't know which of us will heal faster, but this was a learning experience for the both of us. Christmas Cheer helps.

Stay safe out there! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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Old 12-10-2016, 01:59 PM   #2
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A most excellent reminder.

My progressive lenses are immediately removed at the boat yard, the vertical spacial thing is a disaster with them on. The dock, the water, the deck height, my balance and sense of space is shot.

I'm not going to risk a calamity while my eyes try to "learn" to deal with it.

Some folks love 'em, I don't.

That warning will be added to my guest list.

RB
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Old 12-10-2016, 02:45 PM   #3
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I took a spill down engine room hatch in salon this week. Very painful and lucky nothing broken. It was monday. Literally questioned if I should start wearing a helmet.
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Old 12-10-2016, 03:29 PM   #4
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Had the dog go down into the bilge near the deepest part of the keel once when a small hatch was up. He was stuck head-down with his nose just a fraction of an inch above the water. It took a few minutes before we heard his struggling.

It could have been much worse! He has a healthy respect for open hatches now; won't even go near one. But that one hatch almost got me a couple of times. Now I won't leave it open unless I'm actively working down there.

My main ER hatch is large enough that it's hard to miss, but I could still see someone taking a step back without thinking.

Definitely something to always keep in mind, thanks for posting!
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Old 12-10-2016, 03:38 PM   #5
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I had a good friend fall through an open hatch on his boat. Helped him out and got him to lay down. shortly after, he wa complaining about the pain. o I got him in the car for a trip to the hospital. 6 broken ribs and a punctured lung!
Doctor said the worst part of the whole affair was the car trip and the dangers it imposed.

Lesson: If there is an accident, call 911. Let the pros do their job when it comes to diagnostics. Also, their transport is more efficient and safer.
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Old 12-10-2016, 03:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcam View Post
I had a good friend fall through an open hatch on his boat. Helped him out and got him to lay down. shortly after, he wa complaining about the pain. o I got him in the car for a trip to the hospital. 6 broken ribs and a punctured lung!
Doctor said the worst part of the whole affair was the car trip and the dangers it imposed.

Lesson: If there is an accident, call 911. Let the pros do their job when it comes to diagnostics. Also, their transport is more efficient and safer.
\
That is a sobering little story!
Wow...
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Old 12-10-2016, 05:01 PM   #7
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Last time I was "boat shopping" a broker showing us a Monk 36 opened the saloon door walked in and stepped right into an open engine room hatch. Fortunately the engine top is only a foot or so down from the floor at that hatch, if it had been the fwd most hatch he would have had about a 4 foot drop! Nothing hurt but his pride, the boat was on the hard and before climbing the ladder to look it over he gave my wife and I a strong warning to be very careful because the yard was concerned about us going aboard, maybe getting hurt.
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Old 12-10-2016, 07:13 PM   #8
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Good reminders.

I once watched my wife mistep while boarding, hit her head on the transom locker, and fell in a heap on the swim step.

I did A similar maneuver and almost broke a leg.

Boarding and unboarding, and foot awareness is important.
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