Saving Darwin Award candidates

Published on May 5th, 2022

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
A lifeguard friend of mine described a training exercise where all his colleagues got on jet skis to better understand how they operate. His territory was experiencing a number of accidents involving these jet-propelled watercrafts, so they decided to get a better idea of what they were up against.

The exercise enlightened them to how stupid you can become while straddling an engine, which explained a lot about these kind of accidents, but it is not too far a leap to understand the recklessness of all powerboaters. If you haven’t had an awkward moment with a powerboat while sailing, hang in there, it’s coming.

This all comes to mind while learning how the Coast Guard is recognizing Jonathan Green, captain of the crew boat Tropic Star, with a Certificate of Merit for saving the lives of two individuals who were ejected from their boat in the Brownsville Ship Channel on the southernmost tip of Texas

A Certificate of Merit recognizes notable services that have assisted greatly in furthering the aims and functions of the Coast Guard.

Green, his crew and eight passengers were en route to the dredge vessel Kingfisher for a crew change when a recreational vessel attempted to overtake the Tropic Star. Impact with the Tropic Star’s wake ejected the recreational vessel’s operator and passenger, throwing them into the water. The vessel’s kill switch failed, leaving the unmanned boat in full throttle.

While worthy of a Darwin Award, Green not only rescued the two individuals, but then he maneuvered the Tropic Star to block the unmanned vessel, protecting the people in the water who foolishly risked their life and limb in the dumbest way possible.

With the pandemic boosting sales among first-time boat buyers for 2020 and 2021, keep your neck on a swivel when boating. That powerboat aiming at you may not know what they are doing.

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