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The most insane altercation i've ever had with a guest on board

dLj

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Mar 23, 2017
1,567
Belliure 41 Snug Harbor, Lake Champlain
I sail alone, most of the time. I have people on my boat only when I am quite sure they will be enjoyable to have on-board (at whatever skill level they may or may not have). I rarely let anyone handle my boat unless they have sailed with me multiple times and have demonstrated their skill level. The exceptions to this are those folk that clearly are competent sailors.

Prior to sailing with persons that are of questionable ability, I establish base rules before stepping onto the boat.

I hope to never have an experience like the one you describe... Wow!

dj
 
Apr 20, 2016
44
Catalina 22 293 Huntington Lake, CA
I like to start a sailing adventure with a few definitions - including "Captain" - "bilge" - "head" - "anchor" - "ballast" - and then (my favorites) "Flotsam and Jetsam," and how if I screw up, they could find themselves overboard, but if they screw up, I could call an emergency and jettison the unnecessary/hazardous cargo. Then I laugh a little longer than the rest of them, look at the boat hook and smile as if reminiscing about that time when...
 

ToddS

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Sep 11, 2017
246
Beneteau 373 Cape Cod
Glad it turned out okay for you, the boat, and everyone involved. For most of the story (him being a complete jerk) I probably would have done exactly the same as you. Once he threw you off though near a spinning propeller (felony assault), having already threatened your life (in front of witnesses) and having stole your boat (in front of witnesses), I would have been tempted to just swim ashore, let him damage the boat, and call the police. It ended up being fine for you... so in hindsight... your choice was right.... but at that point he was quite certainly an enraged felon, and getting back on the boat could have ended badly. Your boat (or any boat) isn't worth risking your life for... and there's no doubt in my mind that threatening your life followed by shoving you off your own moving boat would be enough to get him in big legal trouble. In hindsight, you have to admit that you were close enough to shore that climbing back aboard wasn't something you did to protect yourself, you did it to protect your boat from him. Luckily it all ended well though, and you could certainly have handled it a lot WORSE than you did.

My wife and I swap back and forth between "Captain" responsibilities while underway, but we're both competent, and both co-owners. And while I DO often offer to let guests (or my kids) "steer" from time to time, it is ALWAYS far from any trouble... light wind... nowhere near a point of sail where they might accidentally gybe... nowhere near shore, or shallows... or other boats... or marinas... or 30 kts of wind. On a calm, sunny day when there's nothing to hit within a 15 minute sail.

I also agree (with other posters) that it is a very good idea to explain some things for safety as newer boaters board... Mostly, my rule is that you should NOT try to be helpful unless it is by following an instruction that I (or my wife) just gave you. The more common example of people trying to be helpful is trying to fend while docking and putting arms or legs between a dock and a 15,000lb boat. I also generally point out what they should do in the extremely unlikely case of me falling overboard... stuff like that. A brief rundown of a few safety tips helps keep them safe, but also subtly reminds them that I'm the guy who knows stuff they never even thought of so I'm the one worth listening to.
 
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Apr 5, 2018
93
Catalina Capri 25 Jackson
Before you allow anyone on your boat always make it clear that you're the skipper... aka the boss.... if they want to be the skipper... let them buy a boat and host the inmates.

One more thing.... I get it because you're young... but you really need to be more selective choosing crew, guests and friends. Maybe it's time to save the drinking till after the sailing.
I have usually made some sort of comment, indirectly about being the skipper during the motor out saftey talk, but probably not enough. You're right that ill have to be very clear about that point from now on, and specifically mention not helping unless instructed to do so, before the lines are ever cast off. I haven't been that direct in the past because like i said, its never even been an issue. People always offer to help the whole time, but usually they don't know enough to even try to start doing things...and the ones that do have experience...know not to just jump in and do things, and still ask what they can do.
In three years of owning this boat in jackson, and this being the first bad egg, i don't think my evaluation of crew, guests, and friends is that bad. The drinking, i see what you're saying..but its day sailing on a lake...most likley not going to be a dry experience. But i understand. Its not like a total drunk show, multiple people usually have to drive at the end so it stays relatively responsible.


Glad it turned out okay for you, the boat, and everyone involved. For most of the story (him being a complete jerk) I probably would have done exactly the same as you. Once he threw you off though near a spinning propeller (felony assault), having already threatened your life (in front of witnesses) and having stole your boat (in front of witnesses), I would have been tempted to just swim ashore, let him damage the boat, and call the police. It ended up being fine for you... so in hindsight... your choice was right.... but at that point he was quite certainly an enraged felon, and getting back on the boat could have ended badly. Your boat (or any boat) isn't worth risking your life for... and there's no doubt in my mind that threatening your life followed by shoving you off your own moving boat would be enough to get him in big legal trouble. In hindsight, you have to admit that you were close enough to shore that climbing back aboard wasn't something you did to protect yourself, you did it to protect your boat from him. Luckily it all ended well though, and you could certainly have handled it a lot WORSE than you did.

My wife and I swap back and forth between "Captain" responsibilities while underway, but we're both competent, and both co-owners. And while I DO often offer to let guests (or my kids) "steer" from time to time, it is ALWAYS far from any trouble... light wind... nowhere near a point of sail where they might accidentally gybe... nowhere near shore, or shallows... or other boats... or marinas... or 30 kts of wind. On a calm, sunny day when there's nothing to hit within a 15 minute sail.

I also agree (with other posters) that it is a very good idea to explain some things for safety as newer boaters board... Mostly, my rule is that you should NOT try to be helpful unless it is by following an instruction that I (or my wife) just gave you. The more common example of people trying to be helpful is trying to fend while docking and putting arms or legs between a dock and a 15,000lb boat. I also generally point out what they should do in the extremely unlikely case of me falling overboard... stuff like that. A brief rundown of a few safety tips helps keep them safe, but also subtly reminds them that I'm the guy who knows stuff they never even thought of so I'm the one worth listening to.
When I worked on tall ships in Florida, for the entire docking or disembarking procedure (including coming into or leaving the marina) it was mandatory silence for all guests, and they were to stay down below or in the center of the deck until instructed otherwise or specifically asked for help. Just like you said, we did't need any kids or their gung ho parents trying to stop a 75ft steel schooner.

At first I never felt the need to give the same saftey talk to my friends on my little pocket yacht as i did to never met before, green ass guests on the schooner, but i quickly was back to essentially the same talk. Location of PDFs, fire extinguishers, danger zone in the cockpit, not falling in the companion way, some quick terminology, MOB procedure...
which, another abel classic...i go over the MOB procedure, and after he says "if anyone falls in ill swim to them and get them, im a great swimmer" of course i cant just let that hang there, so i have to counter with just a general to everyone statement, if someone falls in please don't try to swim to them, we will get the flotation devices to them and i will have the boat turned around very quickly but I don't need multiple people in the water at once. SMH

I agree with your point that of course, me swimming out and getting back on was 100% to save my own shit from destruction. It sounds good in theory but the amount of BS id have to deal with, even if he became 100% liable, if he crashed by boat and its stuck on the ramp or plowed into my truck is just too much. I figured id try to handle it on my own instead of let him just...do whatever he wanted.

When are you guys going sailing again? I can hardly wait for a recap....
well im taking some co workers in two weekends (one of said co worker friends is a competent sailor so i won't have to do everything), sadly for everyone here there should be no drama, as abel will never set foot near a boat with me again
 
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capta

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Jun 4, 2009
4,195
Pearson 530 Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
It's all well and good to tell folks sailing with you your rules, but when they go over the edge, you will realize it was a waste of time. After all, we are not dealing with rational people at that point.
On deliveries you can interview and check references till you are blue in the face, but it is entirely possible that even a competent sailor who has never had a problem before can become unhinged for no good reason. The only way I know to avoid the possibility is to sail alone, which just isn't my cup of tea, especially on deliveries.
 
Jun 8, 2004
2,485
Catalina 320 Dana Point
For months a classmate had been chewing my ear off extolling the virtues of downhill skiing and talking about the wonders of famous ski areas. Made arrangements for us to join 2 guys going to Brianhead, Utah for spring break. The other guys jumped on the chair while Numbnuts and I were trying to get our ski's on. Met some people we knew as the college ski club was also there, one pointed up hill and said there's Susie the club president. Susie then proceeded down at a high rate of speed, out of control. She went thru 3 snow fences then flew onto and across the deck of the lodge and 20 feet head first into a parking lot. The helicopter taking her to the trauma center was just lifting off as Numb and I got on the chair lift, this may be harder than it looks thought I. Numbie was tricked out in a designer set of ski togs from Europe with top of the line Jean Claude Keilly signature skis. I had Levi's and barrowed ski's and boots, half way up I say, I've never done this before, how do we get off ? How should I know he says, I've never skied.
Sorry for the long post, just reminded me of your friend.
 
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Jan 1, 2006
5,530
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
Awe, I like the handcuffs option. I've walked off boats that I didn't like the crew atmosphere - sometimes straining or ruining relationships. But my life and good spirit are worth more than time spent with an A**hole. There was a checkout women I met at a Macy's who faced a long line of impatient customers that said it better than I ever could: " I won't let you steal my joy!" Argue with that if you can.
 

FDL S2

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Jun 29, 2014
401
S2 7.3 Fond du Lac
I have to put this in because we all have had some great guests too. I had a really good experience last Saturday with some guests I barely knew.

Two had sailed a little and one was a complete newbie who is afraid of water. I gave the newbie my self inflating vest to wear and asked the others their experience. One had some time on a tiller and the other had been on a sailboat - her son is a sea scout and she had been on the scout masters boat several times- but had only done what she was told, so she knew almost nothing about sailing.

I gave my safety brief on where the life jackets were, what to do in a MOB (especially me) etc. I also explained what the various "ropes" did. After we sailed for a bit with the new helmsman in the tiller I explained some of the tricks of sail trim, how to read the telltales, what everything was called, and how the the sail controls were used and why they were important. The scout mom told me I was a good teacher (she's a middle school teacher) and that she learned more about sailing in the time we had been out than she had in all her sails with the scoutmaster.
 
Aug 22, 2018
59
Hunter 33 Prinyers Cove, PE County, ON
It sounds like this fella has some real problems and I for one hope that he can get the help that he needs.
You did the right thing by not physically retaliating. You came out of it the bigger man.
 

Kermit

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Jul 31, 2010
5,495
AquaCat 12.5 17342 Wateree Lake, SC
Your friend was embarrassed from the very beginning. You are probably right about the girl too. He'd talked himself up so much that, when it came time to prove himself, there was no way, in his mind, to back down. In his efforts to save face and show that he did know what he was doing, his aggression escalated while he convinced himself that you were undermining him to try and make a fool of him.

Once a situation like that gets past a curtain point, there is no way to see it do anything but get worse. He's running on emotions and paranoia and desperation. His higher order thinking has shut down. It's like he's being attacked and fight or flight responses are all he can do.

Without the threat of imminent damage to your boat or danger to him, your guests or you, the only thing that would work would be to back off and let him know you aren't trying to hurt him. Give him a moment to settle down and recover the blood flow to his brain. Sit down next to him, not face to face, and ask what he needs from you. Explain what you're trying to do. Hopefully, he'd start to see that backing down was the only way to recover for him.
-Will (Dragonfly)
Either that or just kick him in the shackles.
 

dLj

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Mar 23, 2017
1,567
Belliure 41 Snug Harbor, Lake Champlain
I almost threw my sister-in-law into San Diego Bay once. But there was a law about dumping trash within territorial waters. Does that count?
I think as long as you don't first put her in a bucket, it's not considered dumping... I have a sister who will never step onto my boat. If she did, I wouldn't first stuff her in a bucket....

dj
 
Oct 19, 2017
6,666
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Either that or just kick him in the shackles.
Let me just clarify.
Frankly, I'd have chucked him off my boat the moment I had to swim out to climb aboard
as long as the guy is smaller than I am. Otherwise, none violent solutions are always preferable.

-Will (Dragonfly)
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,593
TBD Looking for my next boat CT
I have a sister
Reminds me - when we moved up in size from 30' to 40' my wife and I thought we were in a palace. My sister came aboard for an evening to watch 4th of July fireworks, and she says "...I don't know how you guys can go for a week in such a small space". :( It's tough to get respect from a sister.