It has been a long last few days made easier by friends and family. If you haven’t already seen the instagram @camkirkconnell photo of my finger or heard the rumors of what happened here it goes.
I’m ok, it could have been a lot worse and I’m just glad it was not one of the kids on the boat or any worse. It was 100% avoidable as are most accidents and happened in the blink of an eye.
I’ve spent my life on the water and around boats and am an unlimited tonnage ship captain and never in my career have I or one of my crew had this same injury. It is infuriating, embarrassing, and painful to be scarred for life, out of work, and have to deal with something that was avoidable.

We were on a 27′ center console pulling alongside for the first time to a 100′ mother ship. There was a 3′ sea and as we came alongside a crew member threw me a bow line with an eye in it. The single cleat on the bow was the pop up type and you had to manually hold it up to get the line through. Normally you can push the eye through with one hand and grab it with the other easily with two fingers on the outside of the line keeping your hands clear but this one was broken or of ill design and had to be held up.

As soon as I passed the eye (loop) through the cleat I barely touch it with my middle finger to pull it through when the boat dropped down on a wave and the mate on the big boat tied the line off.
It came tight and with the efficiency of a cigar cutter sheared my finger tip off at the last joint instantly as the cleat dropped down and the line was snatched through it resulting in this.

It was our first day, first ten minutes, first ride on either boat and first encounter with the crew and boats. As soon as it happened I gave a shrug to the mate, as if to say “WTF?”, and clamped down on the tip to compress and stop the bleeding asap.
I was able to stop it quickly, get a medical kit and dress the wound keeping it elevated as we headed straight back to shore and then to the airport. We were in a remote area of the Bahamas and luckily it was only one of two days of the week there were flights back to Nassau.
Long story short, got to Nassau and at the hospital there they could not provide a doctor to work on my hand and gave me a poor solution to fixing it and after seeing them fumble through bandaging and putting me in an unbelievable amount of pain and bleeding I told them I was leaving and made arrangements to fly to the USA the next morning.
I had found my finger and immediately put it in a sterile plastic bag and on ice until I reached the doctor who used a small portion of it to do a skin graft.
The X-rays showed the bone sheared off just ahead of the last knuckle. The doctor did a great job and I’m on the way to recovering but it is unfortunate it happened on the first day of a 14 day trip and scarred for life from something completely avoidable. It could have been worse. I am glad it was not one of the kids on the boat or one of my clients who were wonderful in helping me get home and take care of me throughout.
The day before I was blessed to shoot a pending world record King Mackerel with my pole spear stoning it with one of my best friends Brad Thornbrough alongside me which was small consolation to think about amidst the pain.

31 lb King Mackerel with my signature pole spear and 10 fingers the day before stoned

OF all the dangers of this sport it is boats that scare me the most. Being run over, cut by propellors and line injuries like this are something we need to be very aware of. As a ship captain I’ve taken, taught, and written dozens of HAND SAFETY seminars and safety meetings and been blessed to never have one of my crew or clients every injured in this way. That it happened to me just goes to show you can never be careful enough or aware enough of new places, gear, and people you are working with.

I appreciate the well wishes and the smart ass comments they cheer me up.
I feel robbed of more than just the missed work, finger and pride but am thankful for everything that happened since the accident and those that helped me get through it.
Dive safe and feel free to post some great comments. So far my friends have had some hilarious things to say to distract me from the realization that when I give people the finger it may now only be 75% effective.

Of the many lessons learned, my having medical training and a level head throughout was the most important to stabilizing the situation, stopping the bleeding and giving the best chance of avoiding infection. Get a first aid class and keep gauze and tape on the boat. a tourniquet helps too but you can make one easily from your weightbelt in most cases.

At least its not my trigger finger. All stitched up and ready to throb for the next few weeks


Xray of the finger. Notice the little tip of bone left. Imagine the pain of having to snip the rest of that off yesterday? not fun

29 Responses to “Chopped my fingertip off”

  1. scott russell says:

    What a bummer, Cam. Best wishes for a speedy healing. Scott

  2. Eduardo Balbo Jarruche says:

    Thanks for sharing your history Cam. The fact that it happened with a so experienced captain, like You, shows us, boaters, that it may happen to anyone…So, let’s keep another eye opened for security matters and be aware of any danger in every maneuver. Fast recover and hope to see You diving again soon. Hopefully it wasn’t the finger You use to pull the trigger. Cheers. Brasil Cristalino crew.

  3. Bilal Amhaz says:

    Dear Cameron,

    Accidents happen in a blink of an eye like you said, but avoidable? I don’t think so, they just happen. I, love the fact that you were thankful that it was not worse and it didn’t happen to your crew or clients. That is a great attitude.

    Always dive safe champ
    Bilal

  4. Austin Powell says:

    Thanks for the info. I for one definitely learn from other people’s mistakes. Haha if you get too bored sittin around I will let ya come captain my boat for me and give us tips thru out our dives. I will even shoot a couple scamps and throw em your way :)

  5. Speedy recovery idol. :-)

  6. Well that sucks! Hope you make a quick recovery.

    Was this some weird 2 eye rope? If not, seems like the crew member who threw the rope to you is to blame (I won’t make a pointing fingers joke, given the circumstances)… he should’ve threaded the eye on a cleat at his end before he threw the other end to you – then there’s no way this injury could’ve happened.

  7. Cory Sweatt says:

    Gonna have to soak it ” in cider”.

  8. I have been a wood worker for many years now with many hours behind my saws and other dangerous equipment. About 2 years ago I made a rookie mistake on my table saw and lost half of my pointer finger and badly damaged my thumb on my left hand. Awful feeling. Mostly because, as you, I felt it was completely avoidable. The fact that I made a mistake that came with such a penalty really bothered me. Still does. But it could have been much worse and that helped curb my angst toward myself a little bit. My wonderful wife, family and friends were an invaluable part of my recovery. I had no idea, and could have never imagined, that such an injury would not only become so physically restrictive through the recovery process but also affect me phycologically the way it did. It took many painful days and nights to recover and I’m still not 100%. Never will be. I’ve come to terms with that and made the best of my 9.5 fingers left. I am also very grateful for those 9.5.

    My biggest fear? I have been an avid fisherman for many years and feared I wouldn’t be able to tie my own knots properly anymore. Funny the things we value most when we love the ocean and all that comes along with her. It was the immediate thought that came to mind when I injured myself. Not work, not tying my shoes or opening my car door all of which have been affected and more. But tying a proper knot and rigging my gear. Still tying knots like a boss, just takes a little longer sometimes :)

    I became interested in spearfishing some time ago and came across your information and videos on line and started to follow you on Instagram. I also live in Florida (Orlando) and fish both the East and West coasts you are so familiar with so it was natural for me to flow your exploits and find excitement in such an amazing athlete and individual that was local to me. I shot my first fish on my very first free dive not long ago off the cost of Clearwater and was hooked. Nothing like your blue water adventures just yet, but I’m sure you remember the excitement of the new world that was opened up to you when you first started this venture. That’s where I am. Just a beginner, with 9.5 digits to get the job done. And doing it.

    Anyway, I have never written or really talked about losing my finger until now. For whatever reason this seemed like the appropriate time for me. I guess it’s my way of saying you’re going to be just fine. A lot of us look up to you and the amazing skills you bring to the ocean. We respect what you and guys like Mark Healey accomplish in the depths of the sea. And we are greatful for your sharing of these experiences with us and inspiring us to go beyond the shorelines of imagination into the unknown depths of reality and all this world has to offer. (fancy talk)

    Hang tight, stay positive and keep posting. The immense amount of knowledge you are passing on to the rest of us by sharing your experiences with us is imesuarable and invaluable. I wish you a speedy recovery and safe future. Thank you for allowing us to experience the ride with you. Respect.

    Ozem Rivera
    IG: ozemone

  9. Ouch! Love the pics. Get well soon!

  10. Hey Cam,

    Thanks for sharing this with us. It happens so fast. Funny enough, my younger brother is the third generation in a row to lose the tip of his middle finger. I was the lucky kid who helped the paramedic find it in the grass after he cut it off in a lawn mower. My father lost his in a jointer-planer doing woodworking, and my grandfather also in a lawn mower.

    Wishing you a fast recovery!

  11. Damn dude. Sucks, but at least you have the rest and like you said…not your trigger finger.

  12. I wish you a fast recovery!

  13. Thoughts and Prayers!

  14. Peter Reid says:

    Speedy Recovery Cam! Boats are dangerous places but as Bilal says, S@#T happens some times! Hope you’re back in the water soon. Safe diving, Peter

  15. hi,i was able to watch national geographic documentary about regeneration.they were able to re-generate fingers!check it out .sorry to hear about losing your finger,hope for speedy recovery.

  16. Cam, never met you, but I knew your dad after having grown up hunting at Seminole Woods. Been following your blog and Facebook, and can’t tell you how much I feel for you seeing your hand like that. That must have been excruciating. Speedy recovery. Hope to meet you someday at the camp!

  17. Felipe costa says:

    Get better man. Best positives vibrations from Brazil. Cant wait to see you diving and making more
    Videos again.
    God bless you!

  18. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh

  19. Hope you recover fast my friend.
    Roberto

  20. Bad luck mate!! As consolation, think of all the stories you’ll be able to make up one day.

  21. Scott Eck says:

    Gnarly, with a capital NAR. Your attitude is awesome. Recovery is painful, but important. Don’t make it worse by “pushing it” before it’s ready. You know what I mean. I had a professor/captain in college who lost the tip of his index finger on a tug boat. A hatch was not secured properly, in less than ideal seas. He was holding on to the frame for support when the hatch got momentum & slammed shut. When the green students would come out on our school’s research (tug) boat for the first time, they all heard about the does & don’ts of being on a boat. His injury left a huge impression on all of us. I will not forget it. Using your accident as a way to impart knowledge of safety to anyone (waterman or not) who will listen is your role. You have always been someone who teaches safety and guides those who need words of wisdom. This accident will add street cred to your sermons. As if all the World Records and all the hours at sea (working and playing) didn’t already give you more than enough credibility. Good luck Cam. And don’t let the Shiba Inu’s go licking that thing. It’s not a puppyroni!

  22. Gianni Corbino says:

    Dam Dude! Im really Glad to hear your alright. I lost sleep over that the last few days. Im glad your doing well. Looks like your not going to be pulling your pork for a while :o) I hope you heal quickly man talk to you soon.

    Gianni

  23. Gianni Corbino says:

    Oh by the way one of my favorite games is “just the tip”

    Gianni

  24. Eric nieva says:

    Been a seafarer before, every time we go alongside we always pray for our safety regarding the vessel lines we are required to tackle., we heard and seen a lot of tragedy regarding lines., head cut off, crushed rib cage, broken bones others loose their arms so many cases you never heard of in land. Be always alert regarding lines and boat movements., pray helps too get well soon cam!!! From the Philippines grow back your finger! So you’ll be 100% again!!!

  25. Im sorry to hear about your injury. your finger and emotional disgust will heal quickly. i have several friends and aquaintences who have missing digits or parts, from commercial fishing especially but also from table saw, and one customer was using his fingers to guide 80# test onto a reel with an electric winder. A loop suddenly came off the spool, wrapped around his finger and took the tip off like a surgical blade! The table saw was Brett Stoddard, a best friend of mine and Bob Elkins in Key West. He lost the last joint of his trigger finger. Also a guitar player you can imagine his disgust while healing. However, he can still hold a guitar pic and Big Bob says Brett is now an even better shot with a shorter trigger finger! Thanks for the story Cam, hope you heal fast

  26. Jason Norcross says:

    Cam,

    Get better bro! Hate to hear of accidents like this, but hopefully we all don’t take things for granted like always. Accidents happen everyday. Don’t beat yourself up too much. I know you hold a lot of pride in being a ultimate waterman (you are!), but cut yourself a break. Nobody is perfect!
    Get well soon

  27. Patrick Mohney says:

    I have had a number of embarrassing injuries in search of life’s memorable moments. In some of my stories, I am the victim, sometimes I report on the majesty of the world we live in and sometimes I get to play the hero. Sorry about your finger. Thanks for sharing, this will help us all to be more focused and deliberate as we subject ourselves to a dangerous environment.

  28. Your Idol says:

    You are a dumbass and you are hereby notified that you must immediately turn in your temporary man card as it is no longer valid. I cannot believe that in 18 years of having the privilege of knowing me that you have not gained anything from the experience. I for one am deeply disappointed.

    The man!

  29. We all make mistakes. I have the scars to prove it. Heal quickly Cam

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