Monday, April 16, 2007

The law of disproportionate results and catastrophe avoidance

Four idiots in a boat

This is a true story without exaggeration. Two years ago, I was out in the lake in my boat with a few friends wakesurfing and chilling as I usually do in summer. I took my neighbor out for a ride for the first time and we went out into the middle of the lake because there were no boats around and we had the whole lake to ourselves. After getting set up and taking off for the first pull, the boat steered to the right with complete disregard for the steering wheel. My neighbor was stuck in the water and the boat was driving in circles.

Here's where it gets interesting

So we're driving around in circles trying to figure out what's going on and the neighbor is stuck way back in the middle of the lake. At this point the boat is feeling really heavy and I'm getting a little freaked out so I popped open the engine lid and much to my horror there was two feet of water in there! We were fucking sinking and driving in circles.

Why did this happen?

The year before I hit a rock and broke off my rudder and squashed my propeller. That sucked and was mighty expensive but I had no choice but to get it fixed, new rudder, propeller etc. A local guy did the work, did a great job BUT he forgot to put in a safety wire on the locking nut that held the rudder in place. So what happened was that the nut came off, the rudder sunk to the bottom of the lake and left a hole 2 inches wide in the bottom of my boat. We're not talking about a little fishing boat here, the beast is a 425hp top of the line wakeboard boat worth as much as a high end luxury car.

Now what?

After my initial shock, I got out a pump and had Rick pump out water, Al got in the water and tried steering with his body, we were all yelling, sinking and driving in circles and there was nobody around to save us. Meanwhile my poor neighbor was stuck in the middle of the lake watching this all go down.

A bit of luck

The engine was nearly under water but still running, the back of the boat was deep in the water and the front sticking up to the sky when my neighbors brother in law just happened to whiz by on a jet ski. He was the only dude on the lake and just happened to come around 2 minutes before we were going to be sunk. We threw him a line and he dragged me to my beach where the boat sunk to the bottom of 2 feet of water and rested on the sand.

The moral of the story

We were idiots, out there yelling and screaming, pumping water, dangerously trying to push the boat next to a spinning propeller, all in all being complete and utter fools when all we had to do was grab a sock and stick it in the rudder hole. The boat would have pumped out the water by itself and we could have steered with a paddle. A near catastrophe when it could have been a minor incident.

The moral of the story is that in life there are certain things that you can do to get far more results and spend way less energy on if you just take a second to think about it. Oh yeah, the second moral is that they don't call it "safety" wire for nothing.

I call this the law of disproportionate results.

I gotta bounce, talk to y'all later.


Anonymous said...

great story. glad it ened up the way it did!

Anonymous said...

Funny how in the heat of a moment it is so easy to lose control. It can really make the difference between life and death. I have a friend who went into cardiac arrest..if it wasn't for her husbands quick response with CPR she would have ended up a vegetable or worse dead. People tend to panic at the worst times. You are correct, if people in a panic would take a deep breath and react to the situation not the chaos of it, the outcome will most likely be OK.

hellophotokitty said...

"The moral of the story is that in life there are certain things that you can do to get far more results and spend way less energy on if you just take a second to think about it. "

Thanks Sanj. I totally agree - and needed to see this in print to get it into my head, and apply it to my life right now...

sanj said...

Thanks for the encouragement guys, I never know if I'm writing pearls of wisdom or balls of bullshit.

I did learn a lot about myself that day and without a doubt I still think about that day whenever I get in a panic.

sanj said...

Here's another example of how some dudes who didn't panic turned a nasty situation around.