A lot of people don’t put much thought into stuff. I’m not talking only about fishing, but also everything in general. Yeah, I know this doesn’t sound all that articulate, but fact of the matter is I am being very thoughtful when I consider this. C’mon, when was the last time you checked your dryer exhaust to make sure it wasn’t clogged with very easily ignitable lint? Can you, right now, tell me where your fire extinguisher is inside your house? If you needed it, wouldn’t you want it to be easily accessible? Where is the tire changing equipment inside your vehicle and do you even know how to operate it? Speaking of tires, when was the last time you checked your air pressure and how do you know it’s good to go?
Do you see what I am getting at? I’m talking about seeing everyday situations from many angles and being prepared should they go awry. I guess I’m really talking about being “squared away” or using the 7 P’s, if I were to use Marine Corps jargon.
So let’s put this into perspective with boating and, of course, fishing in places like Breton Sound or even the expansive Delacroix marsh! If you are driving down Main Street in your hometown and experience engine failure, then the danger of the situation really isn’t that intense. Compared to a fishing boat breaking down in the marsh, you have a lot of advantages. More people drive down roads than people drive down bayous, so someone could come to your aid. You are probably in cell range and have a good signal to call for help. Your car is one place and isn’t moving up and down or floating away. You can still get inside your car to shelter from the elements. But if you’re in a boat, the complications are a hundred-fold. Now you’re drifting with no way on (no power), most likely exposed to the elements, and out of cell range. You just can’t just get out and walk back home. How are you going to get yourself out of this situation? That’s something you need to think about before leaving the dock to go fishing.
Here are some things you can consider before leaving to go fishing with friends and family:
Have a back up, and then have a back up to that back up.
You’re making a mistake if you just launch your boat at the marina and don’t consider what you will do in the event of critical equipment malfunctioning. What would happen if I broke down and couldn’t fix the motor? I would call for help with my 25 watt VHF radio. What if that radio was broke? I could call for help with my backup VHF radio. What if that didn’t work? I could call for help utilizing my cell phone booster and my cell phone. See how I have layers of preparedness? If my main battery died, I have a Battery AED I can use to jump it and even run my motor all the way back to the marina. I even carry a spare battery. Starting to make sense?
Two is one, and one is none.
This kind of overlaps with what I talked about in the last paragraph, but it is unique in its own way and is a great diddy to help you remember what’s important. Having two radios is really having one radio. One radio is destined to break and you will be left with the other. If you only had one radio to begin with, then you really don’t have a radio at all. When it breaks, you will be left without. It kills me that people will have an arsenal of expensive fishing rods before they spend the money on quality radios. Moral of the story: always have a spare. I have not one, but two Danforth anchors on my boat. I keep a spare wrapped in its own anchor line.
Leave a life line.
I like to put out on my personal Facebook when I am headed out, where I am going and when I expect to be back. In some cases, I will leave a “drop dead” time that my friends are to call the Coast Guard if they don’t hear from me and cannot contact me. Doing this will always leave a safety net that you can fall into if disaster strikes. If I don’t do that, I will at least, before my fishing trip, text or call a handful of people that I know I can trust to watch my back.
Think “sequence of events”.
When something happens, what will happen next? Have you really ever tried calling for help? How do you know your equipment is capable? Point is, do you know what will happen next and are you prepared for it? It wouldn’t be a bad idea to call your tow service provider and see how they would come to your aid and even how long it would take. If you’re stuck in Breton Sound, it would be a good idea to know what kind of coordinate system they use. It would be even better if they knew a visual identifier for your stricken vessel. Is it orange smoke? Or maybe a military-style VIS-17 panel? What if your GPS died and you didn’t know your way back? What do you have to back that up? (Hey, if you’re like Captain Devin, you don’t need a GPS. But I still carry one so I can transmit coordinates to the Coast Guard in case of an emergency).
At the end of the day, you can’t make assumptions that everything will be alright or won’t break down. You are only setting yourself up for disaster. But you would be safe to make assumptions that everything won’t always be alright and that you should be prepared. Then, you can fish with peace of mind. I promise you, that when people fish with me, peace of mind is something I have and convey to them. My customers have looked to me and known that I will always take care of them.