Vol. 8, No. 25
June 22-28, 2000
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Posted for Boaters: Beware of Sudden Danger

In mythical times, Icarus supplied his son, Daedalus, with wax wings to fly. Just don’t get near the sun, Icarus said, or your wings will melt.

Daedalus soared and it was magical and wonderful. Up and up he went, until … Well, you know the story. Let’s just say there was a splash.

Recent deaths on Bay tributaries remind us that we must be ever so cautious while boating. A 30-year-old Upper Marlboro man, Joseph ‘Joey’ Husick, died in a frightening collision on the St. Mary’s River last weekend. Also last weekend, the body of a 28-year-old Virginia man was found in the Potomac River, three days after he and his friends capsized in a fast-moving storm.

All told, five deaths have occurred in Maryland waters in 10 days, bringing to 11 the number of boating deaths this year. Eight people died in all of 1999.

There is something about boating that can knock down our guard, sapping common sense. We’ve been there, attempting stunts that later amazed us: kayaking in rubber-sack fog; crossing the Bay in seas taller than our powerboat; setting out in mid-November at 9pm. The Coast Guard was not happy to see us. All we can say for ourselves is that we no longer party so hard.

Like Daedalus, boaters soar on the open water. Sailing, powerboating or paddling, we’re unleashed, freed of the lanes we drive in and the buildings we walk in. We let ’er rip, mentally and physically. We love it and usually, we’re the better for pushing the edge of the envelope.

But there has to be a little buzzer in our brains that says beware, and there have to be reminders like this one that tell us to listen to it.

Liquor, bad weather and breakdowns wait to happen. Those three forces should trip the buzzer the fastest, prompting us to exhale and look out for our families and ourselves. Hope that the buzzer doesn’t go off twice in one trip.

We won’t tell you not to have a beer on a hot day. We will say that it’s more than just a good idea to keep ice tea or lemonade on board as a switch.

This season’s unremitting storms are fair warning to what forecasters say await us all summer. Two Friday evenings ago, we were out in the Bay before that storm with 50-mph winds struck ferociously. (Which bad storm, you ask?) We listened to our VHF. But it was easy to see how we could have been fooled by deceptively calm seas.

If your motor is coughing or your electronics flickering, stay home and get it fixed (or learn how to fix it yourself.) There are too many perils already without facing adversity with a crippled boat. When something unforeseen does occur, you need to be able to give your location. Boating may be the only time you need a cell phone.

Okay, enough of our annual Sermon on the Bow. What we want is this: Please help us make it through this summer without having to write any boating tragedy stories.

Copyright 2000
Bay Weekly