I thought I had it all figured out back in 1980 when I put a copy of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Yellow Pages on the boat. It contained almost all of the marine services that were available at the time. All you had to do was find a pay phone and insert a quarter, or pull out your AT&T calling card, and make a phone call. Or you could get on the single sideband and call Whiskey Oscar Oscar, Whiskey Oscar Mike or one of the other services; for $15 a minute, you could place a phone call through them pretty much anywhere in the world.
That was what I did when my watermaker stopped working in 1983 while anchored off Coiba Island in the Pacific. I got on the sideband, called the manufacturer and asked for a good watermaker technician. I gave them the make, model and serial number of the unit I had, and explained the problem I was having. The tech told me to take off the purple wire and jump it over to where the other purple wire was attached. I hit the start button and—voilà!—I was making fresh water. The tech shipped a replacement part to Jerry Dunaway at his home in Texas, and within a couple of weeks, I installed the part, and we had the unit running like brand-new. Since we were anchored in the middle of nowhere, fresh water was the most important item we needed, even though back then we still had to put powdered Crystal Light or Gatorade in the water to be able to drink it.
Once you were connected with a mechanic or technician, this is where the relationship started. You would ask for your friend who worked in the shop to help you troubleshoot your problem, whether it was an engine, a generator, the watermaker or even electronics. Most of the time, they would either help you get it fixed, or they would get the part you needed ordered and on its way to you.
Watch: Check out this dredge footage.
These days, with our cellphones, it’s even better. The techs who work in the shops give you their cell numbers in case you need something. From a Cummins, MTU, CAT or MAN tech to a Garmin or Furuno rep, most of the time you can get to anyone.
Then there are the relationships with the other captains and crews on the dock, whether at home or on the road in some foreign destination. From having them jump down in the engine room to help twist some wrenches, rewire the bilge pumps, or assist with a confusing electric panel, these people can be a tremendously helpful asset.
During a tournament, if a boat stops for a minute, others are calling to help, offering parts and knowledge. With all of the spare parts we carry, it is awesome to be away from the US, be able to borrow a part, and have the boat owner ship or bring a replacement with them on the next flight down. Nobody wants to be broken down when the fish are biting or when the boss is on board when it’s their time to use the boat.
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I don’t think there is much that today’s captains won’t share. From their valuable spare parts to helping you sweat it out in a hot engine room, changing a prop—heck, they’ll even share their fishing knowledge. The crews rig their baits in the open on the dock, and share their hooks, dredge skirts and baits among one another. Not many secrets there.
I have seen it all. During one tournament, a boat broke an outrigger; after they tied up, there were crews waiting to help take off the outrigger and prop it level on the dock, hacksawing the broken part off, borrowing parts and drilling holes. They had the boat fishing the next day.
There are many scenarios that can be told, but today’s crews with their modern communications and relationships are able to help each other out more than ever before. Kudos to you all.