In the spirit of discussing what NOT to do, here is a true story about boating that might get others to chime in with their own close calls.
About 20 years ago a friend and I were out on the Straits of Juan De Fuca fishing for coho salmon on a small craft rented from the McChord Airforce Base near Tacoma Washington. John was an enlisted man and able to get boats cheap enough for our budgets thru the MWR program.
Well this usually meant we ran like maniacs friday after work, drove like mad to the Olympic Peninsula, got up at o dark thirty and fished like it was our dying day. By Sunday we were totally drained and fell asleep bucktailing for coho with the motor on and the lines out.
This area is on the Coast Guard's list of dangerous places and there is no outcome to a shoreline encounter other than catastrophe. The volcanic spires form moon-like shapes in the rock shore which can be 100ft deep a broad jump from the nearest rock. There is a small settlement here and there, certainly nothing of significance until Port Angeles along that coastline.
Somehow the tide kept us going in a safe offset from shore - we woke up from a sound slumber 9 miles away
from where we nodded off. The motor was still running and the lines dragging. For all we knew they could have been hit 100 times and we didn't know it.
For all we knew we had crossed the strait and were looking at Vancouver Island! The silva boy scout compass I got when 12 years old was in my pocket and dispelled that rumor. It took us a while to realize where we were, luckily I had fished down coast before and recognized Pillar Point. The seas came up and tossed us in our small craft but we made it back by the light on the docks.
That was a mild incident compared to many much more harrowing experiences on boats - suffice it to say I go out from the dock with utmost respect for the sea and as prepared mentally as well as physically to outwit fate each day when boating.
Sure most days are pleasant joy rides but we are just as often a mistake away from trouble and preparedness on the deck and above the shoulders is key.
And then there was Acklins day II...