Mr. and Mrs. Johnson docked their 1988 60’ Egg Harbor Sportfisherman as they had many times. They docked bow in, and secured the stern lines. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were walking forward to secure the bow lines, when the vessel lurched astern, breaking both stern lines.
As an immediate response, Mr. Johnson facilitated Mrs. Johnson’s attempt to board the vessel. With her agreement, he launched her, she almost made it.
Mrs. Johnson made it onto the cockpit gunnel but did not make into the cockpit. She fell into the water, grabbing a hold of the trailing stern line.
Mr. Johnson remembered a neighbor’s standup paddleboard stored on the dock nearby.
He hustled over, launched the board and paddled toward the still moving sportfisherman. He approached the cockpit and attempted his own boarding. Unfortunately, his attempt also failed and he ended up in the water holding onto the same line with his wife. The vessel continued on an arcing course through Marina del Rey harbor.
The vessel eventually came to a sudden stop against a dock.
Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were able to climb out of the water and secure the vessel.
The accidental Captain was their three year old son.
Thankfully, there were no injuries and boats are repairable.
While the damage to the transom and cockpit deck was significant, this is the type of accident for which insurance is sold.
This true story caused the undersigned to reconsider old behaviors. I have always left engines running until all lines are secured, thinking that I would prefer to have the engines available quickly. In certain incidences turning the engines off once in the slip, may be more appropriate. No doubt the Johnsons will alter their procedures and the family now has a story to tell forever.