The Boat Flinging Incident

Flinging Gene Out of the Boat Was Not Part of my Plan!

Parents, you might want to reconsider letting your teenagers out in boats, because here is what goes on...

My 15-foot Boston Whaler was involved in plenty of spray wars

My friends and I fished and boated — and had spray wars — in my old fifteen-foot Boston Whaler

We used to have "spray wars" with each other in boats ranging from 13 to 20 feet. The idea was to pass close to your friend's boat and make a sharp turn, flinging spray from your boat all over him. The other idea was to avoid letting him do that to you. Boat speed was important, but it was also critical that the boat be able to maneuver quickly, throw spray a long distance, and accelerate out of a tight turn.

The 15-foot Boston Whaler is a great boat for spray wars, and I was an immortal teenager. I knew there wouldn't be any boating accidents, and for years we had fun and there were none.

But There Was this Boat Flinging Incident

My friend Kley had just sold his 21 Hydra Sports and gotten an old 17-foot Boston Whaler . He and his dad stripped the boat to a bare hull, rebuilt the console, restored and replaced everything on the boat. This boat was powered by an Evinrude 140S. We loaded 5 people into the boat, just to see if it would still be faster than our 15 Whaler with its outboard 70 hp Johnson with only me aboard.

Kley loved to play. He accelerated right alongside me until I was flying along in the boat at top speed, barely in touch with the water, the boat rolling side to side. I looked over at Kley in his 17-foot Boston Whaler alongside and grinned. He looked at me and shrugged, then slammed his throttle down and went flying away from me. OK, that answers that question.

A while later, my friend Gene was back aboard my boat as we left one potential water skiing area for another which was nearby. I could tell that Kley was spoiling for a spray war as he came up behind, and decided to fling a wall of water at him and escape sideways with a very sharp turn. I was looking ahead at where I was going, looking back at Kley and my friends, looking ahead again, and they were overtaking us. They got within range. I dodged toward them, turned away sharply, and leaned on the throttle. This will make a 15 Whaler leap sideways, land with tremendous sideways G forces as the three hulls catch the water, then zip off on a course about 80 degrees from the previous one.

Anti-Flinging Grab Handle on The Boat's Console

I had done it a bunch of times, and many times with Gene aboard. At his insistence, I had installed a grab handle on the console of that boat, so he would have something to grab with his right hand. The handle I used was a thick wood handle off some old woodworking tool, and it was through-bolted to the console.

My 15-foot Boston Whaler was involved in plenty of spray wars

In my current Boston Whaler, I enjoy a calm cruise on Shell Creek and the Peace River

I always looked forward to make the turn, then looked back at my handiwork after passing the other boat. I made a nice turn, we lept sideways and threw a huge spray on landing, and I knew when I turned around I would see that at least some of it would hit Kley try as he might to dodge.

The Boat's Through-Bolting Held Firm

It's a good thing he tried to dodge. As I turned around to see the spray, all I saw was Gene, pivoting over the railing and flying over the side of the boat! That was NOT part of my plan! He was waving to me, something in his hand. At first I thought he had managed to save his prescription sunglasses, but then I saw that the object in his hand was larger than a pair of glasses. His glasses were gone, but he was holding the top half of the wood handle. I looked down at the console, and there was the broken-off bottom of the handle, still firmly through-bolted to the boat's steering console.

A more aggressive spray warrior than Kley would not have fallen for my dodge, and could have used his boat's superior speed and acceleration to handle my spray in a different way. I was too far away to hit him effectively, and all he had to do was cut power, turn a little toward my spray, then add full power as his boat slipped off a plane. He would have accelerated over the top of my spray, taking it under the bow of his boat. That's probably what I would have done if I had been driving Kley's boat, and Gene would gone under the boat.

Spray wars kind of lost their charm for me after that incident, though I admit to occasionally practicing on crab trap floats, just to keep my boating skills sharp. We were lucky no one was hurt over the years, and the only loss was Gene's prescription sunglasses. But I shudder to think what might have been.

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