I didn’t just spend my whole life on a riverboat. Most people will tease that I did, but I can ensure you that I didn’t. One of my favorite vacations was when I went to Massachusetts with my late wife. We went to Cape Cod, walked along the beautiful white beaches and sang karaoke all night! It was truly great fun. I had a friend I had met in the Navy, his name was Richie. He now is the owner of a Worcester Limo Rental Company (props go to him), but back then he was dazed and confused. Anyways, we stayed with him and his girlfriend. I remember one night in which we all bought lobster from the local shopping center and played poker… Richie and I may have even gone out back to to have a few tokes from his pipe, if you know what I mean!
you may be wondering … What does this have to do with boats or barges. Its a fair question. But, it was on this trip, that I had a firsthand experience of what can go wrong on boats, and that everyone needs to take precautions before getting on one- no matter what!
On the first Sunday of our trip, we went to this island off the coast called Martha’s Vineyard. We were able to walk around it and experience all of the shops in no time. there was a brewery and fine restaurant we visited. Being a proud southern boy, I had no idea that New England could be this beautiful. I was used to a diet of :
- Fried chicken and gravy with cayan flavoring
I never before had a clambake with chowder and fresh sourdough- just incredible. Then we decided to leave the island and head back to Richie’s house in Gloucester.
In sailing terms, it wasn’t a far sail to his house- maybe about an hour and a half to this area on the cape. He only had a 16 foot Four Seasons with a twin-rev motor, that we would trim down. It was about 20 minutes into the ride home, when it started pouring on the water. The visibility was terrible. Richie’s sails were up when they should have been down and his lights weren’t on yet. Next thing I can remember was that Monica (Richie’s girlfriend at the time) was walking up the side of the boat, when the sail jarred loose, swinging back hard into her head, knocking her unconscious overboard. She didn’t have a life preserver on so she began sinking instantly. Richie hadn’t even noticed. I ran up and shouted at Richie, he stopped the boat instantly- Her body had started sinking down to the bottom of the sandbar. I jumped overboard and swam underwater about 20 feet, I grabbed her hair and pulled her up to the water’s surface. Richie threw us a rope and my wife started crying, because she saw all of the blood. We got back to shore in 45 minutes, and an emergency crew was ready to take her to the hospital.
Monica didn’t wake up from her coma for 2 months. She has since fully recovered, and it leading a completely normal life. In any case, I have never been so scared for my life, and someone else in my whole life. But never mind that, I was in my element (I loved boats, jet ski’s, all forms of watercraft), how had I never been in an emergency situation before? This intrigued me into taking numerous safety courses including deep dive training, shipwreck training, coast guard training, CPR and medical training.
This just goes to show anybody out there, that you need to take safety first at all times. This should be paramount in your life, whether you captain a Barge, Riverboat or canoe.