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Harboring Some Feelings Of Entitlement

, , , , , | Friendly | May 24, 2023

I’m enjoying the sun and resting on the deck of my boat in the harbour when a young woman and her husband yell at me. This is a “Mandrake” where all visiting boats dock, get water and electricity, and enjoy the city. We are tourists, like the majority of the boats. 

Woman: “I want to hire a boat.”

Me: “Well, this boat is not for hire; it’s our sailing boat and we are tourists here.”

Woman: “But I need to hire a boat. There are boats here. Can’t you take us somewhere?”

Me: “No. This is not a commercial boat. I can’t do that.”

Woman: “But I’m told that there are boats for hire around here!”

Me: “Well, as I told you, I’m a tourist, this is our own boat, and I don’t know where you can find a boat to hire.”

Woman: “Why can’t you take us somewhere? You don’t seem to like being busy.”

Me: “Good day!”

I just stopped answering her. She yelled some more and then left. 

Her husband was looking on in despair.

Hoping They Meant Breakwater

, , , | Right | May 4, 2023

I work at a rental boat marina. A customer is going over the boat while I explain how it all works.

Customer: “Where are the brakes?”

I handed him over to my manager as I couldn’t in good conscience rent him a boat.

It’s A Wonder They Stayed Afloat That Long

, , , , , , , | Working | April 4, 2023

In my late teens and early twenties, I worked as a marine and small engine mechanic at various marinas.

One marina I worked at had a real scammy boss and owner. The dealership dealt with high-end speed boats and snowmobiles in the winter, and it was a really popular place. I thought was going to be a good gig. I was newly married, naive, and a good but not great mechanic, but I loved doing that stuff.

It started off with me getting the job and being offered the small apartment above the store to live in. Accepting the apartment was the first mistake (besides taking the job). I soon found out that it put me on unpaid call twenty-four-seven, and it was minimum wage to begin with. I moved out four months later to a small apartment in the next town over.

There were five of us that worked in the shop: two helpers, the boss’s son who was the head mechanic, the boss’s wife who ran the store and did the books, and me. In the summertime, the boss would hire a couple of students to help out.

I was the lazy worker putting in only sixty to seventy hours a week. The two helpers worked eighty to a hundred hours a week, and the boss’s son came and went as he pleased, barely putting in forty hours a week. By the way, he hated me. The only thing I could figure is that I was a threat to him because he was a useless mechanic.

As always, at first, it seemed great. Lots of hours meant good money… for a while. Then, the novelty of working in a new high-paced place soon wore off. Come the wintertime, we were laid off to collect unemployment insurance, but we were still expected to show up every day and work for next to nothing “under the table”. It was a hundred bucks here, fifty bucks there, etc., as my boss said we were getting paid by the government, so anything he was giving us was pretty much a bonus.

About halfway through the second summer I worked there, things went really bad.

My boss came flying into the shop at around 9:00 am on a Friday morning in a frenzy explaining that he’d forgotten about two boats that needed to be ready for Saturday. (He rarely wrote anything down.) Rigging up these high-end speed boats from scratch is no short-order item.

All of us dropped everything and started working on rigging these two boats. At 4:00, pm the students left. Shortly after they left, the boss came in fuming and informed us he could put off the one customer, but the other boat had to be ready first thing in the morning. We worked past midnight just to get the boat ready. Even the boss’s son stayed until we finally put the boat in the water to fire it up and make sure everything was working fine.

We were all dog-tired and dragged our butts to our cars to go home. The boss yelled across the yard that he would see us in at 5:00 am to get the other one done. We thought he was joking from his tone.

Needless to say, every one of us rolled in at our usual 7:00 am the next morning, including the boss’s son. We were greeted with screaming in some colourful language about being lazy good-for-nothings. We were all too tired to argue with him and basically ignored him as we went to work on the second boat.

At not getting a rise out of us, the boss abruptly turned on his heel, marched over to the store/office, and told his wife, “They come in when they feel like it, then pay them when you feel like it!” She wasn’t much better than him.

The next thing I knew, my paycheques were getting later and later, to the point that I had to start asking him for gas money at times to make it to work. He would give me fifty dollars here and there. I was slowly starting to go into debt. I also heard later that he complained to the two helpers that he thought I was pissing my money away on booze and drugs.

It got to the point that I couldn’t afford to stay there, and I couldn’t afford to leave. Unemployment takes a dim view of quitting for almost any reason.

I finally quit. I had no idea of my rights. I explained the whole thing to the Unemployment Insurance Board. I guess they must have believed me a little because, instead of the eight-week penalty for quitting, I only got four weeks of no money coming in. I had a pretty lean couple of months before getting back on my feet.

Karma came not long after. Even as I was getting close to leaving, my boss, who was a shady character, to put it mildly, was looking to expand his business into manufacturing a copy of the high-end speed boats we were selling. How he got the American company to give their blessing, I don’t know the particulars. Anyway, he needed more capital and brought in a “silent partner” to help finance this new endeavor.

What my former boss didn’t realize was that the “silent partner” was an even bigger crook than he was, and my boss eventually got pushed out by his partner and lost everything — the boat manufacturing, the marina… everything.

This was forty-plus years ago, so I’m guessing he’s dead now. His son is a nobody marine mechanic at a tiny little no-nothing marina, last I heard.

Sadly, I got out of any kind of mechanic career after that and haven’t picked up a wrench since, but I’m close to retirement with no regrets about getting out of that.

Boozing And Boating Can Only Lead To Bad News

, , , , , , , , , | Healthy | September 14, 2022

CONTENT WARNING: This story contains content of a medical nature. It is not intended as medical advice.


My boyfriend and I offer sailing holidays. People book a berth in a cabin and live and sail with us for one week. This, of course, means that we actually live with our customers and spend A LOT of time with them in very limited space.

I used to work as a nurse until March 2017. During training, we theoretically learned first aid in a “wild” setting, but that’s very different from emergencies in hospitals where you have a big crew and the right equipment. Still, you know the basics, and you learn how to calmly analyse the situation before making decisions. One of the guests in this story was (is, probably) a gynecologist working in a delivery room, so the situation was pretty much the same for her.

This happened during the summer of 2017, in a marina in Italy.

We arrived at the marina at noon because of an incoming gale. The crew was a bit grumpy over the short day out, but safety first. Next to us was another boat that had stayed in all day, opting for drinking and enjoying the sun in the cockpit instead. They were already pretty drunk.

Our crew got out some bottles of wine and started drinking, too. They were all adults, so there was nothing wrong with that. (Our guests aren’t allowed to drink before or during sailing. Afterward, it’s up to them.) There was a decently-sized motor yacht on the other side. The owner was lonely and invited all of us over. Our crew (minus my boyfriend and I) and some of the neighbours went.

A few hours later, all but two of our guests came back, claiming it was just too much for them. Everyone was drinking very heavily. Those who stayed were the gynecologist and her friend.

In the evening, [Friend] came back; he needed to use the loo. He was angry because the yacht owner would only let him use the one on board if he took his shoes off. (Never, ever enter someone’s boat with shoes on; that’s a huge faux pas. The yacht owner was not asking for something unreasonable with his request.) [Friend] stomped back to our boat, but instead of using the toilet, he just peed on our gangway and started an argument. It was annoying and embarrassing.

We went to bed around midnight. [Gynecologist] and [Friend] were still partying. At four in the morning, [Friend] rushed into our cabin.

Friend: *Yelling* “Someone fell in the water! We need help!”

We rushed over, just in time to see people managing to drag one of the girls from the neighbouring boat back up onto the dock. [Gynecologist] acted correctly and put her in a recovery position, and the woman started to vomit water. The others told us that the girl was leaving the yacht and fell off the gangway, went under the dock, and resurfaced on the other side. Bad, bad, bad. Port and marina waters are notoriously dirty and nothing you want to swim in, even less inhale.

We ran over and my brain was in nurse mode, analysing and planning what to do. My boyfriend and I told the yacht owner to call for an ambulance. This is where [Gynecologist] started to forget her training. She was absolutely wasted and in no condition to be practicing medicine. 

Gynecologist: *Slurring loudly* “An ambulance isn’t necessary! She just needs to sleep it off!”

The woman was in and out of consciousness. My brain was remembering something from training about secondary drowning; she definitely needed an ambulance. As the yacht owner called for one, I rushed back on board my boat to get blankets and then went to guide the ambulance to the right place. After a few minutes, I could hear yelling from the dock and went back.

When I brought the blankets, it kick-started the medical training in [Gynecologist].

Gynecologist: *Screaming at my boyfriend* “You need to get infusions! I need to put in an IV line!”

Boyfriend: “What? No.”

Gynecologist: “You’re a murderer!”

Boyfriend: “One, we don’t have that stuff on board, and two, even if we had it, I would not let you near anyone with a needle in the shape that you’re in.”

More screaming followed.

When the EMTs finally arrived, [Gynecologist] refused to move over so that they could reach the woman. She was trying to explain to them in slurred, drunken German what had happened and was hovering over the woman. The Italian EMTs, of course, couldn’t understand a word that she was saying and were trying to get her out of the way.

Boyfriend: “Would you just move over and let the professionals do their job already?!”

During that time, I was knocking on the door of the neighbour’s boat, trying to wake them up. Someone would need to accompany the woman to the hospital and bring her papers. They were really annoyed at me banging at their boat in the middle of the night. When I told them what had happened, one man let out a loooooong, annoyed sigh and called her name. It sounded like it wasn’t the first time something like this had happened.

The next day, [Friend] apologized for his behavior the previous day; he was super embarrassed. [Gynecologist], not so much. She saw my boyfriend and screamed at him again.


And she stormed off. She kept her word until two days later. Then, she got wasted again and started crying. She felt so belittled because he had called the EMTs “professionals,” and she felt that he didn’t take her seriously as a doctor. She refused to accept that she had been drunk.

The woman who fell off the boat was admitted to the hospital. She was in the ICU for two weeks. She had severe pneumonia from aspirating the dirty marina water, and according to our neighbours, she was close to dying from secondary drowning.

I know that a lot of people associate boating with drinking, but it can turn dangerous so, so fast. The woman was lucky to survive.

Yacht Would You Like For Breakfast?

, , | Friendly | March 8, 2019

(My friend has a boat that’s currently on dry land, as we are doing some essential winter repairs. I’ve just reconnected all the cabling for the ship-to-shore radio, which hasn’t functioned properly for months due to some old cables that needed to be replaced. We settle down with anticipation for the first test of the radio, a simple call to the nearby marina, asking for a radio check. The marina we call up has a slight reputation for being a bit stuffy and straight-laced.)

Me: “Calling [Marina], this is [Yacht], just asking for a radio check, please. Over.”

(There’s ten seconds of silence, during which my friend’s face falls, until:)

Marina: “Good morning, [Yacht]. We’re receiving you, but just to let you know, there’s a lot of static; it sounds like you’re frying eggs and bacon in the background. Over.”

(That’s probably due to a weak connection somewhere, but we’re just glad it worked the first time!)

Me: “Thank you, [Marina]. We’ll stop cooking breakfast as soon as possible. Over.

Marina: “Three orders of eggs and chips, please, [Yacht]. Over and out.”

(I finally managed to clear up the issues with the static, but these mad little moments are to be treasured!)