Posted by: nauticalchronicles | December 7, 2011



Ladder Back Chair Incident

My friend, Peter, lives on his boat; year-round.  It is a 50+ foot Carver-style and for one person, it is fairly comfortable.  Winters at Rye Marina in New Hampshire, however, can be cold; cold, windy, snowy and miserable.  According to Peter, he is “living his dream”…right.  Occasionally, on week-ends while he is away, I am on “boat duty”; I make certain the heat is working properly, the pipes are not freezing, the toilet is flushing correctly and the boat & dock are accessible.  For this responsibility, I am paid handsomely.

On one particularly cold January Friday, I stopped by the boat to check on things since Peter was to be away “slow-mobiling” as he calls it, somewhere down Maine in Aroostook County.  I saw his UCM-Pest Control truck parked in the lot & thought this was suspicious since he usually hauls his sleds in his trailer with the truck.  When I entered the saloon, I found him awkwardly sprawled in an ungainly position on his dinette sofa…fully dressed.  He appeared to be uncomfortable.  I asked, in my characteristically understated, unemotional tone of voice, “What’s going on…I thought you were to be away this weekend”.  Here is what he told me in his understated, typically unemotional style…

Peter had scheduled two appointments Friday morning, in anticipation of leaving early for his snow-mobiling trip.  His first was a “squirrel job” in Rye, and his second was for mice in a farmhouse in Epping.  At eight o’clock sharp, Peter met with the lady who owned the home in Rye, and was provided with the account of squirrel mischief in the attic of her two-story home.  She was in a hurry to get to work and felt comfortable leaving Peter, the professional-that-he-is, in charge of the attack on the squirrels.  “The amount of racket these creatures are making at night keeps us from getting any rest and something has to be done about them…immediately”.

After the owner left, Peter surveyed the situation and determined he would need to gain access to the attic.  He searched the several of the 2nd story bedrooms looking for a folding, pull-down type ladder or stairway; nothing.  He did discover an access panel in the ceiling of the master bedroom closet; fairly small.  Peter, on the other hand, is not so fairly small.  He was going to need a ladder, and he was going to need to “suck it in” if he was to gain access.  Then he thought, “maybe I don’t need to go into the attic; maybe I can place a trap near the access panel and hope for the best”.  He also thought, “since its sooo cold out, and miserable, and the ladder is tied down on the truck roof, and I’m in a hurry,  maybe I can just find something to stand on”.

The bedroom was fairly large and nicely furnished, almost a decorator-type styling with matching furniture, custom window treatments, color-coordinated bed furnishings and a beautiful, low-pile white carpet.  It appeared to Peter that one of the sturdy, ladder back chairs would work nicely as a foot-stool for placing the trap in the attic access area. He carefully placed the chair under the access panel, carefully climbed onto the chair, with trap in hand, and carefully, ever so carefully reached up to move the panel and place the trap.  The ceiling was a little too high (or the chair a little to low), and he needed to reach while on his toes on the chair…carefully.

Just as he had the trap set in the attic, he began to lose his balance and the chair began to wobble.  The trap stayed in place; he did not.

As luck would have it, he ended up impaling himself on the ladder back part of the ladder back chair; it was an almost direct hit to an area of his anatomy where things usually do not enter; a place as it were, where the “sun don’t shine”.  His eyes were wide and his mouth had formed an “ooooo” shape.  His toes were dangling just above the floor and he was finding it difficult to un-impale himself.  While he was maneuvering himself off the upright part of the ladder back, he felt a warm trickle running down his leg…this could not be good.  When he finally extricated himself from his struggle with the chair, he noticed a red pooling on the beautiful, low-pile white carpet.  Walking with a notable limp, Peter headed for the bathroom in search of SOMETHING to stop the bleeding and to, as best he could, view the situation.  Meanwhile, the mess was escalating to include the bathroom tile floor.  The closet was full of designer towels with matching face clothes and hand towels; there was no first aid kit and nothing of an absorptive nature larger than Q-Tips.  He wadded up a large amount of toilet paper to use as a packing; then he noticed the large tear in his work pants.  He packed himself well and then wrapped his winter coat around his waist.  He cleaned up the mess as well as possible and considered blaming the remaining damage to the beautiful, low-pile white carpet on his bloody battle with the squirrel family (which he never caught).

He carefully surveyed the scene after he had cleaned up & replaced everything to where it was originally and said to himself, “Not too bad…considering what just happened”.  He limped, slowly to his truck, with his winter coat wrapped around his waist, climbed SLOWLY into the driver’s seat…and remembered his next appointment in Epping; mice.  What the heck…a 15 minute mouse job and then back to the boat (I have found that self-employed, independent business owners have more perseverance than your normal, self-interested employees; an employee may have considered going to the hospital).  The mouse job went well; there were no extenuating circumstances; it did go more slowly than usual, and the homeowner was surprised at how Peter seemed to be immune to the sub-freezing weather while doing the work around the barn; he kept his winter coat firmly tied around his waist.

So, back on the boat, I was surprised to see Peter, and asked in my casual way, “What’s going on; I thought you were going snow-mobiling?”  After telling me the story, with kind of a smirk on my face, I asked if he’d gone to the hospital or seen a doctor.  His eyes kind of squinted and his mouth made a funny look and his head kind of turned sideways and he said, “No, I think it will be fine”.  I told him there was a good likelihood he should have sutures; his eyes squinted again, his mouth made that funny look and his head turned down and sideways and he said, “No, I think it will be fine; how could they stitch something like this anyway.”  And finally, as only a truly good friend could do, I squinted my eyes, scrunched up my mouth, turned my head sideways and said, “I’m only going to ask you this one time…do you want me to take a look?”  This time there was no hesitation when he said “NO”, and there was equally no hesitation when I said, “GOOD!” 

                     the culprit     its a likely story

Peter is still “living his dream” year-round on his boat at Rye Harbor in the winter and in Salisbury in the summer.  We meet a lot of new boaters each year; maybe this year, we’ll meet you out there.  If we do, make sure to ask us to tell the story about the ladder back chair incident; over cocktails, this story remains one of our most memorable boating chronicles.

Captain Robert Brown

the little man




  1. Everytime I hear it, I still get those butterflies in the tummy, but then I smile…good job

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