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Duck Enemy #1
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Those of you that know me well, know that I like to tell stories. Occasionally some of them are true. This is one of them.

Last Summer I headed to Lake Erie to bottom bounce out of Hotwaters. I launched my boat, loaded up my faithful Lab and headed to the reefs. I chose that day to fish in relative solitude and went west of the pack. I set my lines, turned the boat into the brisk south wind and kicked back my feet.

This was at a time when I had fallen in love with the new Minute Made Diet lemonade, and had indulged in a few too many before my voyage. I stepped to the transom forgetting about the large cigar boat that had just ripped by. As I finished my business the first of the concusinve wave struck my boat on the lee side. Though I was braced against the outboard, my footing slipped, and I went in headfirst.

My Lab, who will be a puppy till the day she dies, jumped in to join the great fun. She was between me and the boat, paddling around me, waiting to discover the substance of the new game. I laughed aloud at her enthusiasm and at my folly.

It was several moments before I realized I was in trouble. The boat, which was deployed for maximum drift, was drifting quickly away. Burdened by the now sodden boots, jeans and shirt I tired quickly, and knew I had to loose the weight quick.

Disrobing in the water is difficult. Waves were cresting 1 to 2 feet and Josie was diving for my discarded apparel. By the time I had stripped, I was exhausted. The boat was at least one hundred yards away, and I expended my remaining energy trying to catch it.

I went into the dead mans float. My legs hang down, but my abdomen prooved quite bouyant. Thanks God Fat floats.

I began to scream for help, but there was no one about. I drifted further from shore. A sail boat passed nearby and my shouting proved useless. Josie, my lab, was weakening and was trying to climb onto me and I wished that I could give her support. I tried and tried, but in the end all I could accomplish was a bunch of scratches as she raked my chest. I could have supported her, but her legs were forever flailing and she could not relax in her panic. Righting myself was becoming increasingly difficult, and I lost sight of my dog.

I became weaker with ever breath, and the waves began to catch me by surprise. I swallowed a lot of water that day, and I could see my already substantial belly distend as if I swallowed a bowling ball. I began to wonder how it would end. Would I catch two successive waves and not be able to inhale after swallowing water? Or would I simply become to week to keep my arms spread?

I was certain that my poor dog had drowned. She was a strong swimmer, but I was certain I had spent 30 minutes in the water. I love my dog more than any person or possesion in my life. She did not deserve this. I wept as I pictured her struggling in small circles and eventually slipping under the waves.

I thought of my new relationship with my now fiance. I wondered how she would find out. My parents didnt know her or how to contact her. It would be days before she found out, perhaps wondering why I didnt call her back. Or if I ever loved her.

I thought of my debts that would have to absorbed, my employees who would not have direction, my new truck, and all sorts of strange, petty things.

I was distraught about Josie, and felt that it was fitting that I went as well, as I got her into this. It was a hopeless scene. Laying near naked in the water, drifting towards Canada.

I continued to float, and scream hoarsely for what I figure to be close to an hour, though it may have been longer, or shorter. I heard the propeler under water first, like a torpedo in a submarine movie. I raised my head and saw a bass boat headed for my empty vessel. Immediately the driver turned downwind. I had little energy, and debated if I should risk righting myself one last time. I looked again, and they were closing the gap. The foam from their wake provided a backdrop on the horizon, and bobbing between myself and the boat was a small black head. Josie was alive.

I wept for a second time and screamed for them to get her first. In her panic she refused to board with them, but followed them to me. With all I had left we coaxed her into the boat and she lay down, with her head over the side. I dont remember how I got into the boat, but I do remember hanging on the side for quite a while. I think a rope may have been tied arounf my body at some point though. They told me later that they had heard what they thought was a seagull crying, but they could not see the bird. They came looking after what they said was "quite a while".

I babbled as I lay on the boats deck. Im sure I said thanks a hundred times. Im sure there were a few more tears.

My rods were bent double when they helped me back into my boat. I crawled into the bottom and put on some spare clothes and a life vest. I pulled in my lines, one with a small jack and one with a fat sheephead.

I sat for a while and stared into the distance. Then I motored back to the launch and went home.

I have a bigger boat now, at my Fiances insistance. I also dont go to Lake Erie alone anymore. Very rarely does a night go by were I do not dream of slipping below the waters. Never does a day go by that Josie does not get a hug.

No one gets on my boat, without receiving a briefing or action plan for emergencies. Everyone knows where the anchor is, how the radio works and where the throwable is stowed.

I was lucky. The conditions were not too bad, the bass boat was not under power and both my dog and I had some built in floatation.

SO I ask all of you- does your fishing partner know how to drive the boat? Do they know where the anchor is? Do they know the number to the local Coastguard or law enforcement agency? What should they do when a funny mistake turns tragic.
 

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Thanks for sharing. Great story and I'm glad everything worked out.
I'm going to have my 12 year old son read this when he gets home from school. He may then stop asking if he need's to wear a life vest every time he goes out on the boat.
 

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Cowboy Charters
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Great story and glad you are around to share it with us. Just goes to show, that anything can happen to anyone, anywhere and too much caution is not a bad thing.
 

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Yikes........I run a 24' Thompson, deep side walls, pretty sea worthy rig, and I have gone out by myself a couple of times. I realise this or other strange things ( murphys law) can happen to any of us the next trip out. I will remember this one the next time I venture out alone, if I ever do........Thanks for the wake up call at the begining of a new season
 

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Years ago I commercialy fished in Alaska. The most common
accidental drowning death other than by sinking was by releiving
oneself & falling in. For this reason I always carry a pee bottle.
 

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WOW man that was some story :confused:
not being funny but do they make life vest for dogs . i got to queck into that


jim:G
 

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Duck Enemy #1
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yeah, I have a floatation aid for Josie when we hunt in the winter. But it was doing her as much good in the garage as my vests were doing me in the storage box.
 

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Great story and as said before well written!!Glad you are still around to tell it.Give the lab a hug for me tonight as I also own a big brown one.
 

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useless poster
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heykevin great story there and glad it turned out well. on another note the coast guards says 2/3 of the drowning boaters are found with their zippers down. i always cary a pee bucket .if i forget it the the splashwell will do in a pinch,or the livewell?
 

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Man sounds like you are very fortunate being a relatively new boater IT REALLY makes me think twice about heading out alone....I have two dogs a cocker and weimeriener that I hunt with and love the water-------> the weimy was going to be my boating partner but with how fidgity he is I think thats probably not a great idea especially since my dogs are the two most important figures (next to my wife) in my life.. NONE the less It is a great and very important story at the beginning of the season and most of all glad you and your pup are OK!!! Good Luck this year fishin and BE SAFE!:)
 

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Thanks for sharing your story. I fish Erie alone frequently and do not always wear a jacket. Think this year, I will be making some "open seat" posts.

Best of luck this season.
 

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Defensor Fortis
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Glad everything turned out okay. I am going to read this at our next Hunters Ed class to show the importance of wearing a life vest. Make a floating plan and leave it with someone in case something happens. The Div. of Watercraft
has a float plan on their website.
http://www.ohiodnr.com/watercraft/pdfs/float.pdf
 

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About 3 years ago a friend and I were fishing for perch out of Conneaut. Was the weekend and the pack was big. About an hour after we were there I heard someone shout "HEY! HEY! HEY!" A short distance from us was two guys standing up in their boat waving their arms. I assumed they were waving to a buddy to join them. Less than a minute later they hollered again and a boat near me started its engine and took off with its anchor still down towards that boat. When I looked all I could see was the bow of it sticking out of the water and the two guys in the water. The other boat beat me to the now sunk boat (took about 15 seconds from when I saw it till it sank) and had already thrown a cushion to one of the guys and the other had a hold of a pole. Since this other boat had things well in hand we gathered up as much of their stuff that was floating around as we could.

The other boat now had the guys in their boat and took them in. I had the approx GPS of where the boat sank so I waited for the Coast Guard. When I went back in I stopped at the Port Authority and made arrangements to get their stuff back to them.

I met up with them the following weekend. The conversation I had with them I'll remember for the rest of my life. One of the guy's couldn't swim. One of the things I fished out of the water was their life jackets. They said the boat went down in less than 2 minutes so they didn't have time to get them let alone put them on. It was an older boat and from what they said the boat bottom must have cracked.

I am just glad it wasn't any worse than it was.
 

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Yea get this! Just today, April 28 2007, we were out in the pack in front of Turtle Creek. I would imagine some in hear heard or saw what happened.

Heard a mayday come across the radio. The man said he was taking on water fast, on the south side of the pack in front of Fenwick. I looked around and thought I saw a boat listing badly. Then I heard him say he had a blue top on and they were going down NOW! The boat I saw was him, and he was going down fast.

We were probably half a mile away, but managed to be one of the first boats there. I went screaming thru a couple boats probably pissed em off till they realized what was going on. We actually saw the boat go down stern first, then flip clean over on her top as we pulled up gear just before running over. When I got there there were 3 in the water, two older men probably about 65 I would guess, and one of the men's daughters. I would guess she was 35ish. Another boat I guess had started pulling in one, but the dad and daughter were together and near us, so we were able to get to them and get em in the boat. No one was wearing a pfd, although the dad was holding one over his belly while laying on his back floating. I don't think he would have held on much longer. I think he was in a pretty good state of shock.

After we got them in the boat, everything kind of slowed down for me. A coast guard boat got there and made sure all people were accounted for and check the status of the victims. He also called for EMS back at Fenwicks where they went out of. The older guy we got out was clearly shaken, although I think he should be allright. Definately really cold. This all happened shortly before noon I think, not sure. It was still heavily overcast and kinda choppy yet.

Also turns out the older guy had a prosthetic leg, and he was thankful he was able to keep it.

Still shocks me how fast it happened. Just glad we were able to help out. On top of that, we had our kids with us and they got to witness the power of water and how helpless a person really is.

Be safe out there

Dave/tenrds
 

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the coast guard guy asked the older man if he wanted them to salvage the boat. It took me about four times to get the guy to give me an answer, but I kept telling him that I thought he had to have them remove it. So after everything settled down, we went back out fishing and it wasn't long after that that I think it was south shore towing went buy towing it. Amazing they can turn em over and tow em in like nothing.
 

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getting wEYESer every day
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tenrds, anyone know what caused that one to sink?
 

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Lumberjack
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Way to go Dave...glad you were able to get them aboard and nobody got hurt...complacency regarding PFD's seems to be the underlying theme with all of these stories...they do you no good stowed away!
 
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