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What is a "Boathook"?

November 10, 2007

boathook \ bot huk\ n 1: a hook on a pole, used for retrieving or picking up objects and for fending off.

"A hook on a pole is invaluable for fending off, placing lines over piles, picking up pennants of mooring buoys and recovering articles dropped over the side. When marked with rings at one-foot intervals - a mark in a different color or size should be added for the boat's draft - a boathook is useful for probing around a stranded boat in search of deeper water." Chapman, Piloting - Seamanship & Small Boat Handling

No kidding. A boathook is a useful tool indeed. Many have telescoping handles for maximum reach. The knob is useful for pushing and shoving; the hook is useful for grabbing and snagging.

We've used our boathook for all the above-named uses, and also to retrieve floating trash, debris and stray lines from the water. At Key West Bight Marina Rick used the hook to retrieve his sunglasses. We'll use our boathook if - God forbid - we ever have to retrieve an overboard mascot, in which case the boathook would be used in concert with a net and probably also at least one human in the water.

In turn, we've used a net to retrieve the dropped boathook. Because ours is aluminum it floats.

We've also employed other people's boathooks:

On a trip to Maine in July 2006, the wind blew my new hat into the Bay! It floated on the surface for a moment and then headed downwind.

Rick refused to dive into the frigid Atlantic to rescue my hat. I ran down the pier, turned right and continued downwind along the dock, and out onto the next pier where a large yacht was moored at the end. I could see my poor hat making its way toward us.

On the deck of the yacht two ladies dressed in white sipped martinis. I ran up, all bedraggled, and gasped, "'Scuse me, may I borrow your boathook?"

The ladies looked at eachother in confusion. "Boathook? My goodness, let me fetch the deckhand."

A nice young lady in jeans and a t-shirt came to the rail and I told her the story. Meanwhile my hat had floated through various piles of dead seaweed and other junk but it was still heading our way. As it approached the pier it veered slightly beneath the pilings of the adjacent dock...

The hat was drifting further beneath the dock when the young lady brought the yacht's boathook. She telescoped it out to its full length, and I wrapped my arm around a piling and leaned out... as far as I could... I stretched... and just an instant before the waterlogged hat sank beneath the fetid surface I snagged it! HA!

I telescoped and returned the dripping boathook, made my thanks, and skipped back to my friends, triumphantly waving the sodden hat. They were less enthused than I was.

That's the story of my new hat, which I immediately laundered and eventually gave away. You can't win 'em all.

And those are just a few of the amazing capabilities of a boathook, and we named this website in its honor.

"Boathooked" does have a double meaning, considering the fun we have while boating and our increasing obsession with Sea Gator. We still enjoy our own cleverness, but rest assured this site condones neither boat abuse nor drug abuse.

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