Last weekend I was SUPPOSED to fish in a marlin tournament in Texas. Unfortunately the captain of the boat, a good fisherman (With Local Knowledge) ran the boat aground at the start of our trip offshore and tore up both props! We missed the competition entirely and the sorrowful owner was left with hundreds of pounds of ice on board and slam full fuel tanks plus 200 gallons in the cockpit in a fuel bladder, and no way to burn it off
When I left the next day, which should have been our first day fishing offshore, they were still getting fuel off the boat! A big mess and and a big disappointment!
It is very easy to criticize other people who run aground but I have made contact with the bottom a few times and every experienced fishing skipper I know has also.
Sometimes we were lucky and had only minimal damage, or even no damage at all. When I was not so lucky we wound up with bent props and even a bent shaft.
There are places that are famous for shifting sand bottoms and even the best of the best skippers can come undone, no matter how careful they may be.
In some places, especially river mouth inlets, and the Intracoastal Waterway, going so slowly that even if you do hit bottom you do no damage or only minimal damage is the only safe way to proceed.
I went up once when following the instructions of the owner and his friend. The light, ahead of us and to starboard, that they were using to navigate turned out to be a Coleman lantern being carried by a fisherman wading in really shallow water.
Since that day I have never been the one holding the wheel while someone else told me where to turn!
I have talked to a few friends, both in Texas and since I got home. We ALL agree that we are most likely to screw up in our home waters, someplace we know like the back of our hand. We get comfortable and complacent and it bites us in the butt.
In strange waters where we are not familiar with the risky bits we are scared! Being scared makes most good skippers super careful, and Very Cautious. This in turn keeps us from having the kind of problems we (once in a great while) have in our home waters.
I did not know it then, but more torment was in store for me the very next day when I decided to head for home.
I headed for Stuart. I was taken to the airport at Corpus Christie and used Erin?s passes to catch an 8:30 flight to Houston. There I cooled my heels and had a three hour wait before boarding a flight to Orlando, where both my wife and my car would be waiting.
That plane had a mechanical problem, something about a pump in a fuel tank. We got off loaded into the terminal.
It took about an hour before another plane was made available, at a nearby gate. This plane was smaller than the one with the fuel pump trouble and I did NOT get a seat on it,
I called Erin, who was in Orlando by this time, and asked her to try to find me a flight. She almost immediately called back and told me “RUN to gate 42. If you can get there before they close the door you will get on. It has seats open.
It was well over a quarter mile to gate 42 but, I would guess, less than half a mile. I was sweaty and winded but I made in time to get on the plane - to Tampa!
Erin had to drive to Tampa and get me. Then we (she) drove back to Orlando where we got all our luggage and both cars and headed for I-95 and a 150 mile drive to Stuart where we showered and CRASHED, in our own bed, into instant unconsciousness.
Tomorrow I head for Cape May New Jersey for the big Mid-Atlanic tournament . I hope we can get lucky in that one!
I will send in some reports from Cape May and one of the more interesting aspects to be discussed will be the ratio of white marlin to round scale spearfish.
I look forward to chatting with Dr. John Graves, the marlin DNA guru, who I have not seen in person for a few years, long enough for the relationships between the billfish species to have had a bit of a shake up.
It should be interesting.