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DeadBird

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Jet skis and big waves
« on: August 30, 2016, 09:31:37 AM »
I just returned from ten days at the family camp in northern Maine. It's on a lake that's part of a 5-lake impoundment roughly 15 miles long and as much as 3 miles wide, large enough so it can get sloppy in a blow. Last Monday was one of those days with 3 foot whitecaps.

The guy three camps down is from MA, he lets friends use the place sometimes. A group of about fifteen showed up Monday morning, roughly 6 adults, the rest ranging from maybe 7 to late teens. The first thing they do is hop on the jet skis, which they have never seen or operated before. I wonder now whether any of them had ever been in a boat.

Two jet skis head for the middle of the lake, two aboard each. Inside five minutes they're all in the water and the machines are swamped, nose up. I'm thinking how I can help but our boat isn't at camp yet it's still at the marina five miles down the lake. Then a third jet ski heads out with two more aboard, they get to the others then roll it, now six in the water waving for help. I run across the yards to the camp where the remaining people are just staring, no clue what to do.

 So I make conversation...
First question, did you call 911?.... No, should we?.....  ::) So they dial it.

The place has a party barge, I ask if they have the keys. A few minutes go by and the keys show, then we have to track down the battery switch. More fun. My wife is at camp shouting to hurry, the whitecaps are crashing over their heads half a mile offshore. I plan to go alone, but the herd jumps aboard to help save father, daughter, husband, brother, whatever. Overloaded at the start.

We beat it directly into the crap and the waves are coming right over the bow and the pontoons are working against each other, the frame is wracking so I get the gang in pfd's. We get to the swimmers and pull I five aboard, coughing up water but ok. Now I realize there is somebody missing. I'm pretty testy with theses people for getting into this, where the hell is he?

He swam for shore. Holy crap, rule #1 never leave the vessel until it sinks. So I turn us downwind in the direction they point and start looking with field glasses. The pfd's are dark green so I can't pick it up. The crowd is crying and after five minutes I think he's likely gone but keep looking. Then I see a small boat head out a few hundred yards downwind, nobody else is crazy enough to be out here absent emergency. As I head down I can see the guy, his head is down and the waves are crashing over him from behind. The small boat gets to him and the guy grabs the swimmer by the life jacket, still not looking good. When we get to him I see him move, we haul him aboard, he coughs up a cup of water but is otherwise ok.

Now there's at least 12 aboard we're never making it back upwind so I head for a dock and drop off all but one, then it's not too bad getting back upwind. Meanwhile the 911 operator, still on the line for the play-by-play, wants to talk to me...the woman hands me the phone and the operator tells me I MUST take the people 3 miles across the lake to meet emergency personnel.  >:( >:( >:( As another wave comes over the rail and hits me in the face I give her an f-you, you stupid beep beep beep beep. I hand the phone back.

Back at the dock the meat wagon is waiting, the people have already walked back to their camp. One goes for a ride, everybody else is checked out and is ok. At this point the game wardens show up in their boat, they almost went down trying to get to the scene. Poor bastards are soaked in a 20+ foot Lund walk through. It took them close to an hour to arrive in what should have been under 15 minutes for a 6-7 mile run. One of them tells me the next day they ran through 5-6 footers in one spot, pretty hairy for these size lakes.

I just returned from ten days at the family camp in northern Maine. It's on a lake that's part of a 5-lake impoundment roughly 15 miles long and as much as 3 miles wide, large enough so it can get sloppy in a blow. Last Monday was one of those days with 3 foot whitecaps.

The guy three camps down is from MA, he lets friends use the place sometimes. A group of about fifteen showed up Monday morning, roughly 6 adults, the rest ranging from maybe 7 to late teens. The first thing they do is hop on the jet skis, which they have never seen or operated before. I wonder now whether any of them had ever been in a boat.

Two jet skis head for the middle of the lake, two aboard each. Inside five minutes they're all in the water and the machines are swamped, nose up. I'm thinking how I can help but our boat isn't at camp yet it's still at the marina five miles down the lake. Then a third jet ski heads out with two more aboard, they get to the others then roll it, now six in the water waving for help. I run across the yards to the camp where the remaining people are just staring, no clue what to do.

 So I make conversation...
First question, did you call 911?.... No, should we?.....  ::) So they dial it.

The place has a party barge, I ask if they have the keys. A few minutes go by and the keys show, then we have to track down the battery switch. More fun. My wife is at camp shouting to hurry, the whitecaps are crashing over their heads half a mile offshore. I plan to go alone, but the herd jumps aboard to help save father, daughter, husband, brother, whatever. Overloaded at the start.

We beat it directly into the crap and the waves are coming right over the bow and the pontoons are working against each other, the frame is wracking so I get the gang in pfd's. We get to the swimmers and pull I five aboard, coughing up water but ok. Two are young girls I guess are 10-11. Now I realize there is somebody missing. I'm pretty testy with these people for getting into this, where the hell is #6?

He swam for shore. Holy crap, rule #1 never leave the vessel until it sinks. So I turn us downwind in the direction they point and start looking with field glasses. The pfd's are dark green so I can't pick it up. The crowd is crying and after five minutes I think he's likely gone but keep looking. Been here before, it's grim.

Then I see a small boat head out a few hundred yards downwind, nobody else is crazy enough to be out here absent emergency. As I head down I can see the guy, his head is down and the waves are crashing over him from behind. The small boat gets to him and the guy grabs the swimmer by the life jacket, still not looking good. When we get to him I see him move, we haul him aboard, he coughs up a cup of water but is otherwise ok.

Now there's at least 12 aboard we're never making it back upwind so I head for a dock and drop off all but one, then it's not too bad getting back upwind. Meanwhile the 911 operator, still on the line for the play-by-play, wants to talk to me...the woman hands me the phone and the operator tells me I MUST take the people 3 miles across the lake to meet the emergency personnel.  >:( >:( >:(  How about f-you, you stupid beep beep beep beep. I hand the phone back.

Back at the dock the meat wagon is waiting, the people have already walked back to their camp. One goes for a ride with flashy lights, everybody else is checked out and is ok. I retire to camp for refreshments.

At this point the game wardens show up in their boat, they almost went down trying to get to the scene. Poor bastards are soaked in a 20+ foot Lund walk through. It took them close to an hour to arrive in what should have been under 15 minutes for a 6-7 mile run. One of them tells me the next day they ran through 5-6 footers in one spot, pretty hairy for these size lakes.

I've spent my life on the water, but it's always good to get refreshers on some subjects:

1. Never leave the boat and swim for it.
2. Dark green pfd's are impossible to see, even for an experienced guy with field glasses. If you want to be found wear hi-viz something.
3. Confirmed once again, beer and scotch go well together immediately after pulling folks from the lake.
4. Everybody in a small town has a scanner, pick up more beer and scotch as you will have many visitors in the coming days.


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