True Stories: Throttle Back

True Stories
"Moral of the story? Don't wear your shoes on the boat."Illustration: Chaz Russo

We’ve all heard a wild tale or two of a boating mishap, but we weren’t prepared for how unbelievable some of these True Stories were when we gathered them from our audience. This tale begins on the Murray River in Bundalong, Australia, where a crew of nine all loaded into their new boat late one night, charted for a nearby tavern for some more drinks. Six of the nine boarded the vessel directly into the bow, and remained there to avoid getting their dirty shoes in the boat. Once underway, water ­started pouring in over the bow. In a desperate attempt to induce bow rise, the driver accelerated abruptly, burying the nose of the boat even further under the water. As the boat sank, everyone abandoned ship ­except for the driver, who put on some music, cranked up the volume, and went down in style — honoring the saying that “a true captain goes down with his ship.” Meanwhile the remaining passengers were left to swim against the current, and four of them ended up more than 100 ­meters downriver. To add to the chaos, a good Samaritan blasted out of the darkness on a PWC to offer help, unaware of the remaining passengers still in the water. In a stroke of pure luck, the boat was recovered and no one was injured in the debacle.

As much of a comedy of errors as it was, things could have been much, much worse. Now that we’ve all had a laugh, let’s learn from this crew’s mistakes — because in the future, we may not be so lucky. Let’s ­identify some of the factors that put them at risk: It was pitch dark, some of the occupants were under the influence of alcohol, and the boat was ­improperly weighted. It goes without saying, but if they had avoided these risk factors by staying off the lake after dark; not mixing boating and alcohol — because boating under the influence is just as deadly as drinking and driving; and either redistributing the passengers initially, or just relocating them rather than hitting the throttle, this whole fiasco could have been avoided. Moral of the story? Don’t wear your shoes in the boat. It’s a wild world out there, folks. Have fun and stay safe!