Monday, June 9, 2014

Boating Scares & Adventures - Full Circle

I realized I never posted this. Last year we had a terrible scare while out boating and here's what I wrote after, but never posted. We got back on the boat yesterday for the first time since then.

Written August 2013:

Boating has always been a part of my kids' lives.  My dad has an awesome boat and we love spending summer days and evenings on the lake.  They love just going for a ride, jumping off the edge into the water, swimming, tubing, fishing...they love the whole experience.

A couple weeks ago we were enjoying a beautiful, quiet Thursday evening on the boat.  The boat was running great and we had no worries.

We had swam for a while, then were getting arranged to go tubing.  Sam was in the tube in the water.  Boat gets turned on to go and it revs up really high despite being at idle.  We smelled gas very strongly.  After turning it off and giving it an inspection, figuring it was just a fluke thing, boat is turned on again.  In a matter of seconds, the motor bursts into flames.  Almost instantly the cover of the motor explodes off and up into the air, literally sky high, a ball of flames.  I remember watching the flaming cover up in the air, not knowing if it was going to land on us in the boat or back on Sam who was alone in the tube in the water.  I jumped in the water; all I could think was that Sam was alone and if it hit him or landed near him on fire, I had to get there.  Ben says that as I was jumping in I screamed for him to get out of the boat.  Thankfully, the cover landed in the water a ways away from all of us, still flaming for a while until it sunk.  I got to Sam, then Ben swam to me, in tears.  Meanwhile, I tell Dad to throw Allie in. She had her life jacket on and is a (crazy) good swimmer; she swam to me as well.  Meanwhile, the motor is still on fire.  We didn't know what had just happened or if the whole boat was going to catch on fire.  I was able to shove Ben and Allie up into the tube with Sam.  I remember them just clinging to the edge of the tube staring at their dad and grandpa trying to put the fire out.  I had no life jacket on (we make our kids wear them the entire time, but usually us adults don't put them on unless we get in the water.  Needless to say that didn't cross my mind at the time.) and was starting to really tire from the swim, and I kept kicking and pulling the tube away from the back of the boat, as it kept drifting in towards the fire.

Jeremy grabs the fire extinguisher and empties it.  Still flames.  Thankfully my dad always keeps a 5 gallon bucket in the back of his boat, so Jeremy scooped 12-15 buckets of water on the motor and finally got the fire out.  Then they cut the cord to the battery so it couldn't get power anymore.  They throw me a life jacket and there we are.  In the middle of a nearly empty cove and a broken boat.  I sincerely thought people were going to flock to us to help.  There was a loud boom when it caught on fire and a ball of fire in the air and a boat with flames shooting off the back.  But no one came.  

Jeremy called 911 and we waited to be rescued.  The last thing I wanted was to put my kids back on the boat, but we didn't fit in the park ranger's boat, so we all had to pile back into the boat and be towed to the nearest dock, which wasn't where we parked.  There were a bunch of firemen waiting for us.  We were all okay, just very shaken up.  Ben and I were the worst; we were shaking so badly and I really thought I was going to be sick.  The thought of what could have happened to my babies still makes me sick.

But we were perfectly fine, not a scratch.  We were being watched over that night, without a doubt.

A ranger drove Jeremy around to the other dock where the van was, and my dad spent a long time filing a report on the incident.  Hours later we finally made it home, exhausted but safe and so thankful.

After some research, we found that this crazy, fluke thing has happened to others.  Very rare, but it has happened, almost in the exact same way.  Right now we're waiting for estimates and insurance company to help us figure things out from here.  We're definitely done boating for this year!

The kids were SO good.  They did exactly what we told them to do.  And we've said we are not afraid of boats or water.  We're so thankful for their life jackets and that they're good swimmers.

It's a funny thing what happens in an emergency.  Jeremy and Dad were immediately working on putting the fire out, while I was in momma bear mode; I literally was fiercely determined to get my kids safe and barely gave a thought to Jeremy and Dad.  Sorry guys!!  We all did our thing to get safe without even having to assign tasks.  

That night our lives could have changed forever.  But so many things happened in our favor.

The wind could have been blowing the opposite direction, shooting the flames and cover into the boat and onto us.

My Dad could have been out there alone with no help, as he has done many times before.

It could have been Jeremy and Dad with the kids, without me, as they've done before.  No doubt they would have protected them, but it was so helpful to have a 3rd adult there.

It could have been my dad with my sister and her kids, as it was the week before.  Jeremy was the firefighter and he did a great job.  He is almost unshakeable.

If we didn't have that 5 gallon bucket to put out the fire, I don't know what could have happened.

The entire boat could have caught on fire.

But those things didn't happen.  We had the best possible scenario for a terrible, terrible fluke accident.

Here's a picture of the boat from last summer, with the top up.

The rangers gave the kids their own badges for being so brave.  Let me tell you, they are serious about those badges.  Here they are after, with their badges on.  The cove behind them is where the incident occurred.

Here's a picture from last summer of us on the boat.  You can see just how close we are to the motor.

This was no small fire.  It was shooting flames, a ball of fire in the sky, an explosion.  It was like something out of a movie.  There are no words to describe the sound, the sight, the smell of gas.  Yet after, the boat itself was unscathed, and the motor (pictured here), you can barely tell it had been on fire.

We will boat again.  It was a fluke accident. Please don't take this as a reason to never go boating. Teach your kids to swim.  Make them wear life jackets on the lake.  And I'm sure we'll reconsider our adult life jacket policy from here on out and have ours on all the time too!  

At the end of the night, we got to see a beautiful sunset and take my babies home safe and sound.

June 7, 2014
Despite the scare last summer, we got back on the boat on Saturday. New, safe motor and lots more fun to be had.  It was also Maggie's first time on the boat!  

Good view of the new motor... it's white this time.

Although the boat's motor did great, ironically the motor on this remote control boat that the kids were playing with started smoking and died! We just had to laugh at the irony....

Back at grandpas.... playing in their underwear.  Yay for summer!!

1 comment:

  1. Oh gosh! That was certainly a frightful event. Though shaken, it's great that everyone is safe. You and Jeremy have such amazing critical and quick thinking. It's good that you didn't let the fluke accident ruin your summer. Your children look adorable, as always. Thank you for sharing that experience. I wish everyone the best of health!

    Kent Garner @ White's Marine Center