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Capn Craig

Oct 16, 2010
Have you ever thought this is it!* I'm going to die right now.* I did on Monday afternoon, and when I think about, I realize how close I came.*

My wife and I were enjoying an absolutely beautiful day anchored in what locally is known as the Leclaire Canal.* It is a beautiful backwater slough above the Lock and Dam *14 auxillary lock.* on the Mississippi River.*There is no current here and many boats anchor and party on weekends.* My wife went for a swim and warned me to be carefull pulling out because she felt what she thought was a tree limb next to us in the water.* I went in about a half hour later to check what I thought seemed like bad noises coming from my port prop or shaft when I shut it down.* When I was on the part side I kicked a rope or something that I realized was wrapped around the port prop.* This is what my wife kicked.* I managed to pull some of it to the surface and discovered it was three strands of rope attached to something very heavy on the bottom.* My wife had climbed back aboard, and I asked her to hand me out a life jacket while I dealt with it.* Better be safe, I thought.* She also handed me a pair of side cut wire cutters.* When I realized that the wire cutters could hardly cut the rope I knew I had trouble.* On my boat I can touch the rudders but not quite the props with the trim tabs in the way.* I eventualy got the rope cut with three long ends hanging off the prop.* I tried to feel with my feet which way they were wrapped around the prop to try to get them off.* No luck.* I could almost reach the prop so I thought if I could dive under for a few seconds maybe I could figure out how to unwrap them.* I went under about a foot and needed to come back up for a breath.* Thats when panic set in.** There was a screw holding the zincs to the tab that extended about a half inch below the lower zinc.* It caught on my life jacket and wouldn't let go.* My face was about 6 inces below the surface and I was stuck.* My wife wasn't around.* I tried to unhook the straps but they were tight and couldn't get them to release.* I was panicky.* I gave it one hell for stout jank and tore part of the jacket.* That got my mouth at the water surface but I couldn't get a breath between the waves.* I gave another yank and thankfully I tore the jacket more and got my head out from under the water.* I shook for a long time after that realizing how close I came to drowning, and how I never even saw the potential danger.* Really makes you think.

After that near disaster,* I hose clamped a serrated steak knife on the end of a scrub brush handle, and after about an hour of trying, got most of the rope off the shaft.* I managed to pull the couple hundred pound cylinder of concrete the rope was attached to, to the surface where my wife cut the rope and let it sink.* The ropes were about 50 feet long and floated in about eight feet of water.* I don'tkow if they were left there by a careless moron or left there as a trap.* I wonder if the moron would even give a damn that he nearly killed me.

You just never know.

You never know when your time is going to come! I dive on my props all the time (3 days ago) and never before considered it a danger. I know after hearing your experience I will continue to do it in the least clothes possible and I suppose posting a spotter would be prudent as well. Glad you made it and shared your experience so others could learn.
We recently backed over a rope getting into our slip.* I had to yell to my wife to grab a sharp knife from the galley to cut it loose so we could continue to back up, and had that not happened we could have crashed into another boat.* I now have a sharp rope cutting knife hanging next to (one of the) boat hooks.

Also I've had to dive on a painter wrapped around a prop, and I agree it is a good idea to have a spotter!* What an ignominious way to die.

Good lesson.

-- Edited by Egregious on Wednesday 7th of September 2011 08:36:03 PM
Craig, glad you are OK.* Thanks for posting this.* I shows just how dangerous our hobby can be.* Accidents are unexpected, and this could have be a fatal one.

The difference between you and Daddyoi is that Daddyo didn't know how close he was during the storm.* Things can turn bad in a hurry.* It is good that you had the presence of mind to get yourself free.* A lesson to all of us.
Craig, REALLY REALLY glad you are ok and thanks for sharing. Sometimes the simplest every day act can go wrong fast. One of the scariest things that has ever happened to me on the water involved my daughter who is going to be 8 this winter. She and her older brother (just turned 9) are excellent excellent swimmers. They wear their lifejackets religiously when underway, etc. For years, they wore their life jackets from the time getting out of the car so always had them on when on the dock. They can swim very good and have for a long time so we stopped making them wear them on the dock. A week or so after we bought our trawler we were in the slip on a summer afternoon straightening out the boat and just enjoying being aboard. My daughter went out on the dock (floating dock under a covered roof) to fish or something. We were all just sitting in the radio or TV on or anything....just kind of sitting around resting. A few minutes later she comes walking up to the cabin door in tears and soaking wet. It scared me to death! It seems she fell in off the dock somehow at the end of the slip. The fact we parked bow in probably helped keep her safe as when she fell in she had to climb up onto the swim platform. The amazing thing is that she said she screamed and screamed for help and somehow none of us heard her screams whatsoever which utterly shocked our entire family. To this day we don't know how she pulled herself up out of the water and onto the swim platform b/c the ladder was not down in the water and the platform is raised up off the water a bit. I am pretty fit and in my mid 30's (ok, maybe LATE mid 30's!) and I would have a hard time pulling myself up on it without the ladder down! It's amazing she was able to get up. The thought of her falling, hitting her head, etc. is too scary to ponder.
This accident made me realize one thing though. The old style swim platform ladder was dangerous. It worked fine but it was the old style that was hinged and swung up to be strapped to the transom when out of the water. If anyone was aboard and fell in and had to get the ladder down from the water they would be absolutely unable to get it to go down with them already in the water. I immediately replaced our swim ladder with a telescoping ladder that is mounted under the platform. The new ladder is 4 rungs deep and accessible from the water should someone fall in and need to get back aboard.

Anyway, really glad everything is ok with you! As a precaution I am going to only go swimming in the nude so as to not get clothes hung up on anything! :cowboy:
Tony, thank God your daughter was able to get up on the platform, it really is quite high off the water. About a year ago I realized there was no way to swing down the Monk's OEM ladder if you had fallen in the water or even from on the boat if the dinghy was on davits and blocking it. I removed the ladder then to install an undermount ladder. In the meantime I tied a rope ladder to the existing ladder hinges just in case someone went overboard. I have been procrastinating, haven't needed the ladder, went to West Marine two weeks ago and they didn't have one in stock, etc, etc, and the rope ladder is still back there, but reading your story puts this project back on track. Which model did you install?
Steve W.

-- Edited by Steve on Thursday 8th of September 2011 05:30:19 AM
Craig,* Glad you are okay.* Never wore a lifejacket while diving on my prop.* I do not like fighting its bouyancy while being under the boat.* Now I have another reason.

Thanks for posting.** JohnP

My swingdown ladder has no strap and can be flipped down by someone in the water.

I tried to climb aboard my boat without the ladder or swimplatform and this is how I did it.

I could sort of jump up and just get a hand in the hawse hole by the aft cleat.

Then pull up and get another on the cap rail, then with knees against the lower spray rail, sort of swing up and climb the rest of the way.* It was not to hard to do and I am 58 years old.

I guess it helps my IG32 has low freeboard aft.



-- Edited by JohnP on Thursday 8th of September 2011 05:43:49 AM
I ordered and installed this one from defender industries:
Defender does not seem to have it on their website any longer but it is a 4 step, telescoping, unermount ladder NOT surface mounted. I had to install 2 teak strips of wood under the swim platform to install the ladder properly so that I had someplace to screw the ladder into but it is much safer to have the ladder mounted under the platform, not to mention the 4 run ladder makes getting in and out much easier on a day to day basis when swimming.
I don't swim at all. First thing the water is to cold. I am actually thankful for that.

The next reason is I drowned once.

Happened the first time I tried surfing off Waikiki.

I kept getting pushed down onto the bottom by the waves. I tried breathing water. It doesn't work. I woke up with a lot of people standing around.

Drowning is not the way I want to go. Paranoid I guess.

*I haven't been in the water since.

I'm sitting here reading this with a blood pressure monitor strapped to my arm, and seeing the effect of the first medication I have ever taken for the hypertension condition. I'm sure glad I took the pill over an hour ago. These posts are critical reminders of how quickly things can happen without any forecast of danger. Awesome lessons, and I'm assessing the same issues on or around my boat. Thanks for the important share. Perhaps this is the site's greatest purpose.
JohnP wrote:
My swingdown ladder has no strap and can be flipped down by someone in the water.


I added a swing down boarding ladder after hearing of my best friend's mishap on the Columbia River. He broke his leg while jumping off his boat and falling into the river. Swimming around, trying to find a ladder that he could negotiate, he finally found a dory that he crawled in to.

Mine, however, has a strap that is easily disconnected.



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skipperdude wrote:
I don't swim at all. First thing the water is to cold. I am actually thankful for that.

The next reason is I drowned once.

Happened the first time I tried surfing off Waikiki.

I kept getting pushed down onto the bottom by the waves. I tried breathing water. It doesn't work. I woke up with a lot of people standing around.

Drowning is not the way I want to go. Paranoid I guess.

*I haven't been in the water since.


I have often thought it odd that people who don't swim can love boats and water.* I can swim a little but not for too long.* For some reason I can't float, I sink.* For years I have had swimmers tell me 'just relax'* I have done that to almost the point of falling asleep with them holding me up ever so slightly.* As soon they release me my legs sink, then the rest of me.* I decided long ago that wearing a life jacket is far better than being a dead fool.* I never anticapated a problem Monday.* I was just going under a foot or so.* And my 4 buckle waterski jacket would float me to the surface in a second if need be.* (BAD, read: dumb) assumption.* I know I had an experience that I will not forget.* Hopefully, others can learn from it.

"Hopefully, others can learn from it. Craig"


I did. Thank you for being here to give us that lesson.
good to hear you were able to get out of harms way.
they always say you only need a puddle of water to drown in it.
my wife drowned as a baby, somehow she feel in a pool but luckily was found right away (on the bottom) but was fished out and survived. She too is not 100% buddies with water or atleast deep water... possible stemming from her early life/death experience.
i think pools are possible just as dangerous as boats btw.
we have to always be on the look out for the dangers surrounding us, threads like this reminds us and i want to thank you for posting.
Glad to hear all ended well for you!

Lines and shafts/props entanglements are not nice ..... hereis my story from this past July.

While on a dinner cruise the party decided to moor to a friends ball in a nearby cove ... great idea!* My friend grabbed one of the mooring lines to the ball as I was at the helm in reverse, all of a sudden, up comes the wind .... we are drifiting ashore into the rocks and my friend with the ONE line is moving aft just as quickly.

I put her in reverse to escape the rocks and to assist my friends capture of the mooring line - THUNK - did I hit something?* I knew I was not in the area YET of the rocks ..... then I went forward realizing that I may have snared the other line, so - go immediately into the other direction to try and release it - right - THUNK ... WRONG!

After a little bit of head-scratching as to what exactly had occerred - one of three or maybe all three of the three possibilities had occurred.

1.* Shaft was disengaged from tranny and moved toward rudder

2.* Prop nut had come off and prop was against rudder

3.* Engine had come out of its mounts and moved aft .....

You guessed it - as pics indicate - ALL FOUR engine brackets (from the rubber mounts to the block broke - the torque on the cast iron must have been tremendous - despite only giving her a little throttle each time to try and free the line - the wrap around the prop must've been so strong as to do this damage.

Really unbelieveable as on first few glances in engine room, all looked fine, a 4-5 inch move in there for the Lehman 135 is not much - UNLESS you are looking at the mounts OR it did not move in uniosn - which luckily it did,

So, all you LEHMAN owners - those 4 mounts are hard to come by - the aft two are similar except for orientation but the forward left is a heavier cast bracket and longer while the right front is molded into the pump assembly and the most difficult of them all to resolve - assuming you can locate the parts needed in the first place.

As my search unfolded, I managed to find 2 of the rear mounts off of Kijiji locally and then had the front left welded while the front right would have ot be 'jury-rigged' with another mount placed near the one I did not want to fool with (the assembly one).* All in all I was somewhat fortuante - despite the incident at all - in getting excellent help from Ken Knickle a local diesel engine guru.

I had a 8 foot 6 x 6 size railroad tie cut into two 1 foot sections and the remaining 6 foot section was sturng across the saloon for chain and tackle hoisting and moving of the engine back in place.* The shaft luckliy was not damaged at all.* One blade of the three did have a knarl from its meeting with the rudder whom in turn has a finger joint gouge out of it ... resulting in vibration becasue of the prop blade ... but I will address the prop and rudder issues when I pull her onto the hard in a few weeks.*

Till then, time to make up for the lost 3 weeks of summer boating which is pretty precious in these waters - particularly after the sloooow start weather-wise to the season!

Be safe ALL and watch for those lines and less than FOD waterways!


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Mike: That is indeed a major ouch, but not as bad as it may have been with a shaft separation. Not an easy fix, but at least you've got it in control now. Nice idea about the 6 X 6 though.
This is my brush with death:

After 6 days of motoring the ICW I was in sight of Texas. There was a rock Jetty on the north bank and I was on that side of the canal. I saw a 6 unit barge turn into the canal from the south and I thought it was headed my way. No problem, I had passed many barges for the past week. They for the most part were professionals and if they had a concern about me they would radio me.

It soon became apparent that this barge was aimed towards the north bank so I figured I was wrong earlier and he had not finished the turn. No problem, he will be turning soon. So I continued to watch my depth sounder keeping to the north side waiting for him to finish his turn. Being that it was a rock Jetty I knew if I bottomed out there it would not be like the times I did earlier in the canal. It would not be mud. As the distance started to close I idled down my motor to give him time to finish his turn. Soon after the horror hit me he was not going to turn and was on a collision course towards me. I leapt to the radio and screamed for his attention, threw the throttle wide open and steered hard for the rocks.

I was not going to make it. I watched helplessly as this towering behemoth struck my boat and shoved me towards the jetty. I remember saying out loud that I was going to die and them thinking how it was going to hurt. Seconds later I was on the jetty, no longer in the boat and watching this monster glance up onto the jetty and then settle down into the canal.

I was alive but one look into the cabin and it was clear to me the boat was lost. The bulkheads were torn loose from the hull and what part of the boat that was in the water was submerged. My adventure was over. But I was alive.
So what was the outcome?, was there a Coast Guard hearing, or was it a nightmare.
Steve W.
It's situations like that when I would like to have a good turn of speed (which I do not) so I could at least run the other way.
Quite some time ago a friend and I were walking down to the end of the dock to check out some really nice "big" boats in my marina.* While we standing there admiring a particularly lovely Swan sloop, we noticed a boat coming in, heading for the last double finger slip.* At first we didnt pay much attention to it but soon we could see that this guy was coming in way too fast. He had a gal positioned forward with a line in her hands.* So we're watching wondering when he's going to slow down or at least put her in reverse. He doesn't.* He barely gets the bow into the slip, still a good ten feet from the finger, still moving way too fast, and he starts yelling at the gal to jump onto the dock.* The gal could see all the water between her and the dock and didn't want to go, but the guy is still yelling at her to jump. We ran over and hollered at the gal to toss us the line. The boat is still 6-7 feet away from the dock and now the guy driving is screaming at her to jump. The gal is frozen in fear but in a panic, she jumps.

*Now mind you this is a big, heavy, wooden ketch, and the guy isn't slowing down, but he is now swinging the wheel over wildly.

So the gal jumps and goes right into the water.* She comes up screaming and now the bow cushion is driving the boat down on top of her, catching her between the hull and the dock. *Just as she is about to get sliced in half, my buddy and I reached down and grabbed her and yanked her out of the water. The side of the boat hit the dock with such force that*we could see several planks cave in and hear ribs cracking inside. A couple of more seconds and the gal surely would have been crushed to death.* The bow then smashed into the dock forward and came to a shuddering stop.* While this is all happening, the guy driving the boat is still*screaming at the her, he didn't even know she had gone into the water.

*Apparently other folks were watching, including the harbor master, because within minutes the police were there and a few minutes later an ambulance arrived to take the gal, who is now almost in shock, to the hospital. So the police take our statements and while they are doing that the guy is trying to sneak off the boat on the other side.* So he jumps off the boat and slips, and sure as hell, lands right in the water.* So the cops go over and haul his butt out and slap the cuffs on him, and now we can see as the take him away, that he is so loaded that he can barely walk.

Yeah, we had a couple of stiff ones after that.*

We came back next week, the boat was gone and the harbor master said he was under court order not to talk about it.*

Anyway, a lesson learned. Really bad S--T can happen really fast. Sometimes we're fortunate and survive. Sometimes we don't.*


My close brush with death:

The other day my wife asked me if her new slacks made her butt look big.

I said "yes".*********** KJ



-- Edited by KJ on Friday 9th of September 2011 07:33:38 AM
I think it unlikely that those of us who have survived five or more decades have not*had at least once potentially fatal event.* I've been fortunate to have an attentive guardian angel.* And no doubt someone has been looking after you too.
The tow company bought my boat the next day though I was too stressed to have asked for a fair price. There was no coast guard hearing. Hurricane Ike had just hit Houston and they were so busy the Coast Guard had to hire a crew boat to take them to us. They did say that if the first set of barges were not on backwards the rake would have gone over my boat and I most likely would be dead.
healhustler wrote:
It's situations like that when I would like to have a good turn of speed (which I do not) so I could at least run the other way.
*shortly after i got my boat, we took friends for a sunset cruise into Huntington Beach.

the route into the marina via an inlet or canal passing a weapons depot (just for drama has nothing to do with this story), then under a bridge and here lies the issue; height of the bridge became an issue perhaps 50 ft before it, my friend is an experienced boater and informed me that he would gauge the height from the rear of the flybridge. he was monitoring and said it looked fine, until we were right in front of it; he shouts out "I wouldnt do it!", with the incoming tide pushing us towards the bridge i put both in reverse.

someone yells; stop there is a boat behind you..

now panicking, i hit it hard forward, hard enough to clear the snacks and most drinks off the saloon table down below, to stop the boat, then i throw the starboard engine in rverse and the port in forward and make a hard and swift 180 turn to starboard.

having a twin engine makes a turn like that possible and it saved my butt that day.

First of all, I'm so glad you survived this to tell the story. I can't imagine the horror of being stuck down there unable to reach the surface. Thank God you're OK. (My heart is still pounding at the thought.)

Secondly, thanks for posting this as a warning to all. Many good ideas have been posted on this thread and many have shared stories of their close calls. This will hopefully serve as a reminder to us all of the perils of our passions.

I'm so very glad it turned out as positively as it did. Well done, Capt!!
KJ....that story gives me the hee-bee jee-bees. That poor, poor woman, who probably never got anything but grief about what she was doing wrong. I'm sure glad that you guys were there to act quickly, because she'd have been history for sure. BTW, I tell my Admiral that she's got a big butt all the time, even though it's not that big. She knows I like it.
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