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  1. #1
    jparks's Avatar
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    Don't ever do this.

    So last Friday my friend and I had my SL 750 out on Lake Jackson--beautiful day, things are going great. There are several beds of hydrilla that touch the surface of the lake, and I told him where all of them were and too steer clear. I go out first, check the lake for boats, other things, and then tell him where he can go.

    He had ridden skis before, so he goes out and around the corner. After about 10 minutes I don't hear him anymore, and about 1/4 mile out I see him come limping around the corner. He had hit some weeds and didn't know to jump off and clear the grate--although he was trying. I gave him the "don't turn the engine back on" sign, and then, for reasons completely unknown, did the following.

    I just started walking out the landing (which is saturated on both sides with moccasin habitat and at least one gator that I have seen), and then started swimming. All I could think was "I don't want to replace the engine," and "he's not that far out."

    Mind you, I didn't have a PFD on. I swam about 100 yards, and then realized that my friend was way further out than I had thought, and that I needed to turn back. As I stopped in the water, my legs got caught in a huge patch of hydrilla, and I found myself unable to kick--only to splash like crazy with my arms.

    At this point, I started to panic--I couldn't get loose, and had a big swim left to get home. I finally tried to float on my back and free my legs, and began to stroke my way in. At this point, a guy shows up on the launch in a truck...but doesn't get out of it. I start yelling "Help!" but he stays in the truck. I float some more, and then get stuck in another patch of hydrilla.

    At this point, I'm thinking that I am going to die. I thought that if I went under and drowned that I had about 4-5 minutes before the guy on the launch could get to me, call 911, and then probably 10 minutes before I could be treated.

    I went under, my feet hit bottom about three feet under, and I just pushed and thrashed with all the energy I had left and tried to swim as hard as I could for about 10 seconds, because that's all I had left.

    Miraculously, I made it to a spot where I could stand up on a submerged log, stumble to the launch, then collapsed in shock and hyperventilation. 911 was called, fire trucks, EMTs, etc. come out. But I'm safe, just stupid.

    Meanwhile my friend, once he saw fire trucks (he couldn't see me trying to swim out), hand-paddled the SL 750 back to the landing and freaked out.

    It was quite an afternoon, but I learned some valuable things. Please point out if I miss some.

    A) never swim out in a lake without a PFD, esp. one with tons of hidden dangers--hydrilla, which will drown you, snakes, gators, etc.
    B) no matter how strong a swimmer you are, never lose respect for the water, and never overestimate your ability to swim.
    C) a ski engine is replaceable and rebuildable. You and I are not.

    I have told my family that it was never the ski's fault, and that skiing on our lake is completely safe. It was only my stupid actions that were suspect. Even as I type this, I cannot believe that I actually tried to swim out there.

    So, Greenhulk, this is my Monday Therapy spot for the week. And just so this ends with some humor, the EMT finally says to me after I came out of shock:

    "Next time you want to go swimming, why don't you try the f-ing swimming pool?"

    Happy Monday! JP


  2. #2
    Click avatar for tech links/info, donation request K447's Avatar
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    Wow. Glad to hear you are OK!

    Perhaps you should consider finding a better place to ride. Sounds like that lake is a poor match for PWC riding.

    D) If someone else is going to be riding your PWC alone, make sure they know everything they should know about operating it. That would include clearing the jet pump of weeds. And the proper protocol if they get into trouble.

    E) Always ride with another PWC or boat. The buddy system works. You never know when, or why, you might need help.

    F) Carry safety equipment. More than the legal minimum. Communications gear (Cell phone in a waterproof pouch, VHF Marine radio) is a good thing. So is a collapsible paddle.

  3. #3
    750sl's Avatar
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    Glad to hear everything turned out ok, but why would you jump in if youve seen an alligator around to begin with?

  4. #4
    jparks's Avatar
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    750sl,

    That's the thing--I just wasn't thinking--at all. Not about the distance, not about the environment, the depth, the hydrilla, anything. I don't know what was running through my head, except "I don't want to rebuild the engine." I'm really just lucky.

    K447--those are terrific ideas! I need to find some people in my area who like to ride. Lake Jackson is about 5 minutes from my garage, and it's OK for PWC as long as you stick to the "trails," for lack of a better word. I've been out there some 40 times this season and have yet to pick up a strand of anything in my intake grate.

    But, I think I need to check out bigger lakes with more people and less vegetation. Usually I take my phone in a ziplock bag, and I resolved to get a collapsable paddle ASAP. Great advice. Any other Tallahassee people on the Hulk? JP

  5. #5
    dhoad's Avatar
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    wow, no lectures on safety from me as you laid it all out, just glad to hear all turned out OK.

  6. #6
    ObsoleteE's Avatar
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    Glad you're okay, that's a crazy story.

  7. #7
    Polarisitis loonatik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 750sl View Post
    Glad to hear everything turned out ok, but why would you jump in if youve seen an alligator around to begin with?
    I think jparks got same problem like me. I get hungry when I see one j/k.
    I once was man-over-board in South China sea, I can relate to what you've been through. Welcome back jparks!

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