The boat is sinking

Discussion in 'Boating Stories' started by Waterbug, Apr 12, 2009.

  1. Waterbug

    Waterbug New Member

    Our family has developed a tradition of spending Memorial Day weekend camping and catching fish. We spend the nights running yo-yo's and jugs and nap during the heat of the day. On these outings we usually used my dad's Nitro bass boat - even when he didn't come with us. A few years ago my folks stayed home while my family and my brother's family continued with our tradition. One night my brother(Matt), my wife(Christi), and I headed out to run the yo-yo's. As we checked our string we kept noticing the roar of a boat motor accompanied by random waves of a spot light. We commented on the hazardous boating and made jokes about someone having a little to much to drink. Everything was going well for us. The only problem was that the floor of the boat was really wet around the floor vent. Matt asked about it and Christi assured him that the water jug must have spilled. Much later as we neared the end of our string; I had just taken a nice cat off of the hook, given it to Matt to put in the livewell and was resetting the yo-yo when he yelled "WE HAVE TO GO NOW!" Somewhat frazzled from Matt's demeanor I inquired about his aggitated state. His reply was "WE'RE SINKING - THE BOAT IS FULL OF WATER!" Being the calm and collected person I am, I calmly evalutated the increased volume of water around the floor vent, the over flowing livewell, and lifted the rear compartment to find that the back of the boat was full of water. The batteries, on board charger, everything was under water. At this point, not wanting to panic my wife, I "calmly" screamed: "PUT ON YOUR LIFE JACKET NOW, HURRY, GET IT ON NOW". Christi grabbed her PFD and I looked to make sure that Matt was getting his on as well. By this time Matt had the boat running and put it in reverse to back away from the timber we were in. The boat was so heavy that the back of the boad when under water as he backed up. It planed down like the bill on a crank bait. About this time Christi still did not have her lifejacket buckled. In her panic (she can't swim) she was tring to put it on upside down. I got her lined out and jumped back to begin bailing water. We kept a plastic pitcher in the boat and I'm glad we did. Water was coming in faster than the bilge pump could remove it. Matt and I swaped positions so I hit the throttle to get us as close to camp as possible before we went down. I figured that we were only five miles up the river that fed into the lake and only a couple of miles across the lake from camp. It was just after midnight and the rest of our camping party would surly miss us by seven or eight o'clock. Any distance we could make up would put them closer to finding us. The boat was so heavy that it sit low in the water and could not come up on plane. The best I could get out of it was a slow lerch. Strangely I was not afraid; I knew that we had proper PFDs and a throwable floatation device. We were close to solid dry ground and had people who knew where we were. We would be ok regardless of what happened. In the midst of our crisis we had forgotten about the daredevil boater that we had seen earlier. Shortly into our quest to return to the security of camp we heard a distressful voice calling out to us. Help me! was the cry over and over. Christi scanned in the direction of the cry and saw a flatbottom boat run up on the bank. The bow of the boat pointed at the stars and the back qaurter of the boat was under water. An older gentleman was standing beside the boat yelling and screaming. Afriad to stop our momentum, I circled our boat and tried to communicate to him that our boat was taking on water and we were in trouble oursleves. With each circle we made the man became more paniced. Hesitantly, I manouvered through the brush to a place near him. I asked Chrisit to stay and help Matt the best she could as he continued to bail water. I picked my way through the briars and trees and got to the man. He had run his boat ashore. Hitting the bank running wide open he had been thrown several feet into the undergrowth and his boat wedged in a vertical position. He immediately told me that he could not hear. He said "I'm deaf and can't understand you". I tried to communcate to him that he could try to get back with us in our boat or he could wait with his boat and we would send help, but nothing I said registered with him. He was concerned with two things - a tackle box he had lost and getting his boat setting right in the water. I surveyed the situation and began to work toward salvaging his boat. My plan was to get his boat back in the water and have him take Matt and Christi back to camp while I waited with our boat. As I started in to resolving the problem with his boat; the man decided to climb down his boat to turn on a bilge pump that he had installed. Big problem here because as he entered the boat and moved around it began to slide further down into the water. I tried to explain this to the man, but his lack of hearing hindered all my efforts to communicate with him. About this time Matt yelled across the way to tell me that he had found the problem and we needed to go. I just couldn't leave the man and he refused to leave his boat. So Matt left Christi in charge of the battle with the water and came to help me. With considerable effort we had the man's boat back in the water. The man promply reached into his pocket and pulled out two hearing aids. He inserted them, said now I can hear you, and thanked us. Resisting the desire to physically harm this man we ran back to our boat, not even waiting to see if the man's boat would start. Matt had discovered that the livewell pump line had broken. Water had been filling the boat the entire time we were out even though the pump was not on. Matt layed across the back deck and simply stuck his finger in the broken socket on the pump. The bilge pump made quick work of clearing the rest of the water and we motored back to camp with my brother's finger plugging the hole. We trailered the boat and began to evaluate the damage. Shortly we could hear the buzz of an outboard motor as the jonboat daredevil slowly made his way across the lake.

    Lessons learned:
    1. basic boat maintainence is good, but indepth maintainence is better- take time to check hoses, lines, through the hull fittings etc.
    2. always keep good PDFs in your boat and use them.
    3. make sure someone knows where you'll be
    4. don't simply trust in a bilge pump to handle water removal.
    5. keep your head on striaght and think your way through emergencies
    6. take time to help other boaters in need.
  2. MRR

    MRR New Member

    First of all Waterbug Welcome to the BOC.
    Second that was one heck of a story.At least everyone got out safely.

  3. WylieCat

    WylieCat Well-Known Member

    Great story and a lot of lessons there.

    Do us a favor and break those long stories into paragraphs. It is EXTREMELY hard to read something like that when it is nor broke up into paragraph form. There is too much good information for someone to miss.
  4. westvirginiacatfish

    westvirginiacatfish New Member

    Welcome to the B.O.C..and thank you for sharing your story with us.
  5. catfishcatcher

    catfishcatcher New Member

    Great story and information for all boat owners. I had a similiar problem a few years back when the boat plug came out. I did not panic which is a big help in any situation. I put the boat in drive and the acceleration and the boat moving caused the water to be sucked out the back of the boat. I then let my fishing partner out at the ramp and go get the trailer while I drove the boat around keeping the water out. I got the boat on the trailer and prevented any accidents or damage to my boat.
  6. bluejay

    bluejay Well-Known Member

    Napoleon, Mo.
    Thanks for the story and welcome to the BOC Will.
  7. Mickey

    Mickey New Member Supporting Member

    Will were proud you are here to tell this story. Good advise. Welcome to the BOC.