I was raised in Wisconsin where the motto is "forward" and forward is where we found Speakeasy's gear when the shift level popped off as we left the Chicago Lock and headed toward Lake Shore Drive bridge on the Chicago River. The last time we lost gear shifting capability was returning a charter in Road Town, Tortolla, BVI. In that case, we were stuck in neutral and drifted safely to raft on a catamaran.
On the River, we were in little danger. The throttle worked and there was plenty of space in the basin to avoid other craft. The Skipper fetched the tool box and we sought the vice grips. Of course, the grips were safely stored in my tool box at home, rather than on Speakeasy, so I made do with regular pliers until the Skipper talked vice grips out of a fellow sailor's tool box. Let it be noted that in order to move the gear shaft from reverse through neutral to forward requires no more than a 5-inch vice grip. Any longer and the handles of the wrench get caught in the spokes of the wheel.