LOSSES AND LESSONS: A Hacker Craft’s near miss teaches some important lessons
Accidents happen. That’s why we work to ensure that our clients’ prized vessels are properly covered should disaster strike. In this edition of the Hagerty Current, client Jeff Peterson asked to share a story in his own words. The lessons should be self-explanatory.
Every year in August, I venture to Lake Tahoe for a couple of weeks of boating (and the Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance) with my wife, Linda; our son, Taylor; and our daughter, Brittain. Last year we had our 1929 26-foot Dolphin Jr. Hacker Craft, named Steinway. Not only is she an award-winner but she truly is an exceptional handling boat. Our two-week vacation on the lake was coming to a close, and we set out early on our final morning across the lake to Sand Harbor on the east shore of Lake Tahoe. We spent the entire day with Steinway on the beach at Sand Harbor, and I spent most of it fielding the countless questions from other beachgoers inquiring about her history.
Later in the afternoon we ventured back to the west shore to spend time on the pier at Tahoe Tavern before our last dinner on the lake. Our trip back was a bit bumpy as the winds kicked up, but Steinway performed very well. I dropped off the girls at the pier, and my son and I tied the boat to a buoy and covered her for the evening. I normally open the hatch and check the engine compartment and surrounding areas, but upon reflection, I realize I failed to do that this time.
Just as we sat down for dinner, Linda received a phone call from the Tahoe Tavern Office informing us that Steinway was taking on water and needed rescuing. Fortunately for us, a couple of young men who were wakeboarding noticed that Steinway’s stern was 3-4 inches shy of being fully covered by water. They signaled for help, and while the pier attendant called us, these young men jumped aboard Steinway and began pumping her out while also feverishly bailing water out of her third cockpit. By the time I arrived 10 minutes after receiving the call, the two already had most of the water out of the boat, but she was still taking on water. I quickly realized that the shaft seal had broken and the rubber hose had slipped off the locking nut. Although the leak was minor, Steinway was taking on too much water too quickly for the pumps to keep up. Her automatic bilge pump had turned on, but the battery didn’t last long enough to stay ahead of the water intake.
We immediately contacted Vessel Assist, which arrived some 45 minutes later. In the meantime, Tahoe City Marina placed Steinway up on her slings for support. I was so thankful to the young men who had worked so hard to save her that I gave them a reward (and my son later snuck onto their boat and left a few cases of local brew).
The next morning, we checked on Steinway, still in her slings and now completely dry inside and out. Upon closer inspection, her shaft seal had indeed come loose, but with a little muscle and a screwdriver we were able to temporarily repair the problem. However, given how low she sat in the water, there was a strong chance that her motor had taken on too much to start. We were able to lower her back in the lake and get her on our trailer. Herb Hall and his team at Sierra Boat worked on Steinway over the next couple of days, going through the Kermath motor and all parts, checking the fuel tank and replacing all the components in the stuffing box.
The following weekend, we put Steinway back in the water to make sure all systems were running. While the systems worked perfectly, we realized that the floor boards had floated up and damaged the second and third cockpit varnished areas, leather and flooring. All in all, however, we felt very lucky that Steinway didn’t sink to the bottom of Lake Tahoe – all due to the kind assistance of those young men.
In addition, our claims experience with Hagerty was smooth and hassle-free. The attention that Hagerty exhibited to ensure that Steinway was returned to her show level was unparalleled. My compliments to Hagerty and to the company’s professional and thoughtful team.