1. Welcome to the latest edition of the Summary of Mishaps. For the first item this week, please don your yachting cap, slip on your deck shoes and brush up on your nautical jargon (“Ahoy!” and “Avast!” are highly recommended).
A. When we refer to Sailors in this message, we don’t have to put quote marks around the term because they are actual Sailors. In the following yarn, however, quote marks are required.
The scene: aboard a 24-foot, sloop-rigged, single-mast sailboat, sans motor, on a placid, California coastal afternoon. The conditions: temperature in the low 70s, calm winds. The cast: three “sailors.”
One of the “sailors” had recently bought a third share of the sailboat and was taking a couple friends out for a little OJT, minus the “T” because none of them had ever been sailing. Really more of an OJFIOY (on-the-job figure it out yourself).
After 45 minutes or so, winds had increased to 10-15 knots, producing a sea swell of 4-5 feet and sending 5-7-foot waves crashing onto the rocky beach. Facing these conditions, seasoned sailors would grin and say, “Now, this is more like it!” For our novices, however, it was “Uh oh!” time.
They decided to turn around and head back to the marina, something that is easier said than done in a stiff breeze with a main sail that you don’t know how to take down and when terms such as jibing, headway and luffing are the equivalent of Klingon.
Soon, broadside seas and winds started to set the sloop down onto the rocky beach. And then, just to make things even more interesting, the part-owner “sailor” (who was manning the tiller) got washed over the side. One of the other “sailors” jumped in to save him, a heroic move somewhat tarnished by the fact that the water was only four feet deep. Had it been, say, eight feet deep, those PFDs that they’d left in the cabin would have seemed particularly attractive.
They started wading ashore. It occurred to them that the boat was going to get mauled when it went hard aground, so they waded back out to try to minimize the damage. The remaining “sailor” jumped in, splashed ashore, and fetched the authorities. A salvage company towed the boat up onto the beach for the night. Another salvage company towed the boat back to the marina the next day.
And now I can’t get the theme song from “Gilligan’s Island” out of my head, darn it.
B. At a naval air station, a civilian firefighter was at the scene of a large wildfire. He was wearing some sort of eye protection (the report doesn’t specify) because of all the airborne soot and debris generated by such fires. He had to review some incident checklists, which, alas, necessitated him removing the aforementioned PPE and donning his reading glasses. So then of course some debris got in his eye.
Had he been able to successfully review the incident checklist, he would have seen that item four alpha on page 3 said, “Exercise caution when removing eye protection at a fire scene. If wearing goggles, put on a faceshield before taking them off, and vice versa.”
C. An O-3 was walking up the gangway to a destroyer’s brow when he came upon a grip bar that was split in half. The halves were slanted toward the edges of the brow, creating what the mishap report described as “two small triangles.” These posed a trip hazard, since someone could catch a foot in them.
The O-3 tried to shove the pieces of the grip bar toward to edges of the brow so they would be parallel. However, it was fastened so securely (by screws, it turned out) and he shoved it so hard that he tore a tendon in his bicep.
See, it was a hazard after all, just not the kind he suspected at first.
2. That’s all for this time, shipmates. See you next week.
Last Revision: November 15, 2013