Eye opening experiences in a boat - Fly Fishing Forum
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Old 03-16-2006, 05:28 AM
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juro juro is offline
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Eye opening experiences in a boat

In the spirit of discussing what NOT to do, here is a true story about boating that might get others to chime in with their own close calls.

About 20 years ago a friend and I were out on the Straits of Juan De Fuca fishing for coho salmon on a small craft rented from the McChord Airforce Base near Tacoma Washington. John was an enlisted man and able to get boats cheap enough for our budgets thru the MWR program.

Well this usually meant we ran like maniacs friday after work, drove like mad to the Olympic Peninsula, got up at o dark thirty and fished like it was our dying day. By Sunday we were totally drained and fell asleep bucktailing for coho with the motor on and the lines out.

This area is on the Coast Guard's list of dangerous places and there is no outcome to a shoreline encounter other than catastrophe. The volcanic spires form moon-like shapes in the rock shore which can be 100ft deep a broad jump from the nearest rock. There is a small settlement here and there, certainly nothing of significance until Port Angeles along that coastline.

Somehow the tide kept us going in a safe offset from shore - we woke up from a sound slumber 9 miles away from where we nodded off. The motor was still running and the lines dragging. For all we knew they could have been hit 100 times and we didn't know it.

For all we knew we had crossed the strait and were looking at Vancouver Island! The silva boy scout compass I got when 12 years old was in my pocket and dispelled that rumor. It took us a while to realize where we were, luckily I had fished down coast before and recognized Pillar Point. The seas came up and tossed us in our small craft but we made it back by the light on the docks.

That was a mild incident compared to many much more harrowing experiences on boats - suffice it to say I go out from the dock with utmost respect for the sea and as prepared mentally as well as physically to outwit fate each day when boating.

Sure most days are pleasant joy rides but we are just as often a mistake away from trouble and preparedness on the deck and above the shoulders is key.

And then there was Acklins day II...
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Old 04-16-2006, 09:01 PM
D3Smartie D3Smartie is offline
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nothing like the fog out of Sekiu to get your head spinning and end up lost...
Almost got lost with my brother out there one day but we were able to follow a boat that randomly appeared out of the fog back into port....
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Old 04-18-2006, 10:33 AM
OC OC is offline
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Not knowing where you are in a boat is a very scarry thing. How many of you have taken a good coastal Nav course? It's amazing the confidence they can build along with good seamenship values. One I recomend is designed by a small company out of Seattle called Starpath. They have many courses and all are serious, not your local 2 hour course by the Coast Guard Auxilery. Google Starpath and take a look.

Yes fog for us New Englanders and Northwesterners are big issues as the summer months get into full swing. I have noticed that most boats of all sizes have radar out here on the Puget Sound, a lot more than back East. I know it is hard to have that dome on a boat used for flyfishing but what a great invention and the cost for recreational boaters is very affordable now.

Some tips for fog I learned many years ago before Radar and GPS. Even on nice clear days it is good to do a good survey of your surroundings. On nice days I take a very good look around about every ten minutes. Things I observe are wind dirrection relative to sun position, wave dirrection and swell dirrection if there is one to sun postion. Then the sun position relative to the surrounding land. If you do this enough it becomes a natural thing to do and you really get to understand how many degrees the sun changes over a half hour or so, second nature. A good look around at the sea state can be helpful in your fishing too. If there is already some fog with visability I always am paying attention to sea state incase the fog really closes in. Even in heavy fog one can still see the brightness of the sun and its postion. If you know all mentioned above you can find your way home or at least close to home. We practice this a lot in foggy weather with radar and Gps on but we put a towel over the screens and just check them once in awhile unless a boat has come up on the Radar. What I have found if you do not use the sea state to your best interests is we all have a tendency to steer to the left and end up in the big circle game. I used to do search and rescue in Montana and they always taught us that a lost person will circle to his left most often. I wonder if lost folks below the Equator circle to the Right? Take the time to learn these observations so they become second nature and it could save your life. But it is also a great enjoyment having great observation skills in nature. I did not mention all the basic safety issues about fog, like stopping every minute or so and using your air horn and then listening for a resonse. You can learn about all that in a regular coastal course.

Does anyone know where I can buy one of the old tin fog horns with the wooden mouth peice. They were not as loud as the air horns of today but I really think the tone they had could give a much more accurate location of your boat. The modern air horn sound in a fog spreads out very quickly and it is hard to pin point where it is coming from.
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Old 04-18-2006, 12:11 PM
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Those are some very good points. I keep a spare handheld GPS in the bag and have paper charts for all the areas I boat in but have been caught out in the fog with no radar. I have seen some rigs with a single radar pole bolted to the deck and supported by the grab rail. I can't imagine this setup would be too much of a hindrance on casting. I believe the units on the market today still run in the $4K-$6K range which I would consider a substantial investment for a 20' center but to your point how much is your life worth. I hope that boats without radar use good judgement when moving in the fog and reduce their speed to what is reasonable for the given visability but realize that may not be the case. I took a navigation course run by the Power Squadron that I thought was pretty good. They ran it as an option after the basic boating course. It was about 10hrs in total meeting once a week for a month.

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Old 04-18-2006, 12:40 PM
OC OC is offline
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Sean, You can get a good 2.2 kw/ 16 inch radar at West Marine for about 1000 to 1200 dollars now. Black and white screen but a very good screen. These 2.2 kw radar are good up to 16 miles but more important are very good at close range. I can pick up crab pots and sea gulls when I am in the .5 mile space and can go down to I think .125 mile on the screen. They have all the bells and whistles like alarms for other boats coming into a set space. The program I like is distance to a certain point, I know GPS does this as well now but with the radar I can get direction a vessel is approaching at and its speed.

The single pole stands are more expensive than the radar but on a fishing boat it would be easy to make your own for a small price. You could also make it adjustable up and down in hieght so when it's not foggy out you can keep it lower. We will soon be buying a new radar and single poll mount for the new boat that has a few more than needed stuff on the pole. The boat had 24 inch dome on the mast which was good out to 24 miles I think. We just did not need that distance, it was too high for close in stuff and under sail it worked great for picking up air traffic to the windward side so we sold it. With the pole mount for the stern I can get manual tilt option to keep radar horizontal, GPS antenna stand, place for a cockpit spot light and a davit to lift the 8 hp outboard back on board. I like the 2.2 kw Furuno radar but they are all good now a days.
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Old 04-18-2006, 01:44 PM
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Smcdermott Smcdermott is offline
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I didn't realize you could get into Radar that cheap. Not sure that unit would work for me due to space concerns which is why I thought you would need to spend the $4K-$6K to get into a networked all in one unit. But certainly worth a look. Not only would it make you safer on the water but finding the blitzes would be a whole lot easier as well .

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