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Vol 49 | Num 11 | Jul 10, 2024

Offshore Report Ocean City Report Delaware Report Virginia Report Snarky Lines Ship to Shore The Galley Issue Photos
Snarky Lines

Article by Capt. Mark Sampson

Boat Renters (Part 2)

Last week I started a discussion about my younger years when I worked at Bahia Marina and some of the crazy antics of our many boat renters. I also left you hanging in the middle of a story about some forien-alien dude who rented a boat from us to take his young daughter out for a simple ride around the bay. The second his boat was untied he hit full throttle and at the boat jumped ahead his body absolutely froze in horror. Not looking left, not looking right, not trying to turn or even slow down “popcicle man” and his passenger blasted off on a short-lived voyage neither would forget!

Of course, as any boater knows, a little weight on one side of a small boat will make it want to turn in that direction. His daughter just happened to be sitting on the port side of the middle seat which made the boat run in a circle. The problem was the boat couldn't make a complete circle because there was an entire Marina in its way. Popsicle man left from one slip, made a perfect 180 and ended blasting straight in to another slip that was (fortunately) empty, and since he was "frozen" he never let up on the throttle "ever" even after his bow hit the dock and the boat literally jumped right up onto it. The boat then became a giant see-saw tipping up and down with the little girl “giggling” at one end and smiling-daddy-popcicle-still-in-full-throttle-man at the other. The boat would tip up and the motor would rev as the prop came out of the water, then it would tip down and go back in the water as if trying to push the boat farther up on the dock. I ran down the dock, hopped in the boat, slid down to the stern, and hit the motor’s kill-switch. The sudden silence seemed to thaw the popsicle man who finally lost his smile, allowed his eyes to slip back into his head, looked around and asked, “What happened?” I told him, “You just had your ride in the bay”. Apparently his daughter thought it was great because as they walked down the dock (daddy leaving a trail of ice water) I heard her say something about it being better than the rides at Jolly Roger!

I know I'm already going fry or (hopefully) “cancelled” for calling someone an “alien” so while I’m in the pan I might as well go ahead and tell this story about a boat riding incident that involved a couple very-VERY large people. The plywood boats we rented had no transverse (side to side) ribs in them to keep the sides from flexing outward when the flat-bottomed boats would run into waves. Instead they had three wooden benches running side to side and attached to the inside of the hull that acted as ribs by keeping the sides from flexing outward. So one afternoon a XXXXL couple rented a boat to enjoy a couple hour ride which took them north as far as the Rt.90 Bridge. The problem was, because it was a typical summer afternoon the wind had picked up quite a bit out of the SW and the open bay waters had become more than just a little choppy when they decided to run back to the marina on 22nd Street. Going north they were running with the seas but to get back they had to bang the flat-bottom boat right into the heavy chop. Eventually the couple returned and as you can imagine they were quite wet.

But wait! There’s more! “Yes”, the couple returned, but they came back as passengers on someone else’s boat because our boat…sank! They said that they were just running along when suddenly water flooded in and they were clinging to life vests. Fortunately no one was hurt and they were pretty much laughing as they squeezed into their Pennsyltucky road machine and drove off. We had never had one of our boats sink so we couldn’t imagine what happened until we recovered it and pulled it out of the water. The evidence was clear. The seam or “chine” where the bottom of the boat connected to the side was split wide open the entire length of the boat. No wonder it took on water so fast. Why it happened was also clear. The middle bench where the passenger would have been sitting and the aft bench where the one running the boat would have been sitting were both split in half by too much weight bouncing on them in the choppy conditions.

Never saw that one coming! Just as we never expected on a busy Memorial Day weekend that a couple guys who rented two boats would take them up to the old Isle Of Wight ramp (between the two 90 bridges) and steal the brand new motors off them. Because our boats were not allowed outside the inlet we didn’t expect to get a call from the beach patrol informing us that one of our rentals was out of fuel and on the ocean beach way up in Fenwick Island. Also didn't expect to get a call from someone at Harbor Island saying that a couple of drunk guys in one of our boats was running wide open around the harbor bouncing off boats and piers. And I was totally caught off guard one afternoon to get a call that two guys were running back and forth in front of the Bayshore Drive condos while standing up, totally naked, and yelling obscenities at the people on their docks and porches! The same goes for the time we had a group of "riders" who rented two boats (yeah double trouble!) and ran out to the middle of the bay where they took the motor off one boat and put it on the other so that they could have a twin engine row boat! Obviously they put the motor back before they returned with the boats so we never knew what they had done until after they were in their cars and gone and folks from other boats came in and gave us the report. Since then I've always wondered how the boat actually performed with the two motors and I'm still surprised we didn't try that trick ourselves.

Today at Bahia they rent a lot more than just rowboats with little motors and I'm guessing my accounts “ain't nothing" compared to what the folks there have witnessed over the years since I was there. I expect also that as long as Pennsiltuckyins keep rolling into "Ba-ha" Marina there will always be a supply of fresh stories to tell! §

Coastal Fisherman Merch
CF Merch



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