The Experts

Mister “Know-it-All” What makes that special guest aboard a sport fishing boat, who fishes maybe once or twice a year, a “know-it-all” in the cockpit? Maybe he stayed at a Holiday Inn the night before. May be he just finished reading the latest issue of “InTheBite” magazine. Whatever the reason it’s not important. The important principle we need to take away from this encounter is: how do we, as crew, handle this special guest without jeopardizing our employment or our character? I have always felt that the tee shirt that reads “Shut-Up and Fish” was very rude and unprofessional. I typically saw these tee shirts on the backs of charter boat mates in the Florida Keys and points north. I understand the message, however, when a portion of your daily income is from gratuities, why would you jeopardize that with a sarcastic slogan on a T-shirt? If you are a seasoned deckie, you should be able to recognize the difference between “Mr. Know it All” and the guest who sincerely wants to know why you are doing what you are doing. Crews need to learn how to respond professionally and discreetly to both types of people without embarrassing themselves or disrespecting the client. I have crewed in both the private and charter sector and I can tell you it is very difficult to hold back what you really want to say to “Mr. Know It All”. Proverbs 15:1-2     New King…

The Denial of Christ

This happened to me in a way that profoundly changed who I thought I was as a Christian. It happened so quickly, I didn’t even realize it was taking place. I was at the very first Custom Boat Shootout fishing out of Chub Cay. Bluewater Brotherhood was still relatively new to most crews and I was a greenhorn when it came to public speaking and sharing my faith publicly. Tournament committees can be lumped with state and federal governments as far as separating religion from their own agendas and political correctness. Whenever I was fortunate enough to crew on a boat participating in a tournament, my first move was asking permission from the committee and marina management to share the BWB with the competing boats. They did not want to be associated with that activity what so ever. However, during this Custom Boat Shootout, I was crewing on the tournament director’s boat. He gave me an open door to share, no boundaries! I decided to get the local pastor to come and offer a prayer and give a short message to open up the captain’s meeting. For those of you who are NASCAR fans, you are very familiar with this protocol before every race. Well, the pastor also doubles as the island airport taxi driver and got tied up at the airport. He would not be able to open up the captain’s meeting. So here was my chance to represent…

Monday Morning Captain

Monday Morning Captains

This devotion was jump started by Face book responses relating to an unfortunate boat grounding in the Caribbean recently. Uninformed people responded with unfair rants about the accident and crew. In addition to those drive by reactions, Republican Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson was feeling the wrath of irresponsible reporting by CNN News, which led to a false political spin by the Ted Cruz party during the Iowa Caucus.

Why is it necessary for us to always have to put our 2 cents in? “I… could have done it better”. “I… would have done it this way”. “What were they thinking?” Most will speak or blog with reckless abandon. Most will opine before getting all the facts. Most will tweet before they think.

One on One

One on One

Fishing is a one on one sport – unlike NASCAR, football or baseball. There will always be more participants than spectators, which is exactly what drives most fishermen to revel in the sport.

Let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of taking the 50 wide out of the gunnel after you’ve just been ransacked by a school of tuna. As the drag screams off the reel, you can already feel the pull on your shoulders, the heavy action rod doubled over from the powerful fish. With the aluminum rod butt jammed squarely into your gut, you hold on knowing that every inch of line the fish takes is another inch you have to put back on.

When the fish finishes its first run, the real battle is just beginning for you. Pull up, reel down; pull up, reel down…..it doesn’t take long before your forearms are burning, your biceps are aching and your hands are fatiguing. But every moment you take to rest is just more time for the tuna to recover and continue its fight. Just when you think you’re getting the upper hand, the fish sees the underside of the boat and takes off toward the bottom once again.

Your eyes begin to burn from the mixture of sweat and suntan lotion running off your forehead. Your muscles are spent, but the battle is almost over. You’re not sure who is more exhausted, you or the 50lb yellowfin at the transom of the boat. A few more feet and the gaff man will have the tuna in the box. A few more minutes and you’re ready to see the next rod go off and hear the captain yell…. “Fish On!”

Thank Goodness

Thank Goodness

The look is unmistakable-grins from ear to ear, a skip in the crew’s step, high fives all around. It’s the moment when the stern lines are secured, the kill box lid is flipped open and the day’s catch is proudly tossed up on the dock as gawking onlookers point and whisper in amazement.

It was just one of those days, one of those days when it all came together. Whammed by the tunas, covered up with mahi, and hit by the wahoos; even the billfish were chewing up the back of the transom.

What a good day to be on the water!

4 Anchors

4 Anchors

Part of our boating and fishing itinerary always includes a night or two of anchoring out. Little San Salvador and Conception Island in the Bahamas are beautiful uninhabited islands offering shelter and front row seating for spectacular sunsets. These two anchorages are well protected from winds with any kind of easterly flow. During the winter and summer months though, the chance for a cold front or squall line is greatly increased. Winds clocking around to the west can quickly turn your tropical mooring paradise into a Jim Cantore destination.

Refined

Refined

Great catches are often the results of refining your bait presentations. You may be matching the hatch as you cast flies for trophy freshwater trout, or emulating sardines or squid while trolling for offshore pelagic fish in the North East canyons. Each day will start off with an appropriate selection based on your historical preferences. In the Mid Atlantic, you’ll be sure to find blue/white sea witches or Islanders in nearly every spread as the day begins.

But as the day wanes and the bites come, attentive mates keep track of the colors or baits that produce more fish. Unproductive baits are slowly removed throughout the day while the “hot”’ baits are deployed in their place. Of course, the intended result is box full at the end of the day. Just the simple change in refining your bait selections could be the difference between a good catch and a great catch.

Power

Power

I remember as a child fishing out of Oregon Inlet in the early 1980’s on a 31 Bertram. Even though that Bertram was small, she was fast as compared to the “fleet”. That Bertram would run 21 knots at cruise. Wait, did I just say that 21 knots was fast? Yes, when the remainder of the fleet was running 15-18 knots.

Let’s fast forward to 2015. Walk the dock at any tournament and look at the newer, larger boats (up to 90’) that cruise at 30 knots, with many topping a 35 knot cruise and wide open speeds exceeding 40-45 knots.

So what is the difference? The power, turbochargers, cubic inches, tweaking every ounce of horsepower of out a motor has made the difference. Many of the larger boats have engines rated up to 2600hp a piece. Advanced coring products have been introduced and the bottoms have been redefined a bit, but, these floating condos have added so many amenities, the boats are so much heavier than the older charter boats.

Alms

Alms

Hurricane Joaquin, a cat 4 level storm, devastated island life on 4 islands in the southeast Bahamas. For 48 hours, San Salvador, Rum Cay, Long Island and the Crooked/Acklins Island District were battered by major hurricane force winds. Not to mention the storm surge, coinciding with a late September super full moon and lunar eclipse. This was the making of “The Perfect Storm” Part II.

My friend and captain, Ed Thompson, who runs the “Blue Heaven”, found himself in a unique position to reach out to the residents of San Salvador. With the help from his boss, who is partnered in an aircraft ownership, and the Facebook social media outlet, Ed was able to start up a fund raising account to help the folks of San Sal. Ed was also able to deliver supplies, by air, thanks to his boss and partners in the plane. As Ed was organizing for San Sal, others were doing the same for the other islands.

Once the call went out to the yacht owners and all who call San Sal their favorite fishing hole, the flood gates opened and donations came pouring in. It was exciting to see our brotherhood of captains, mates and owners come through in the clutch to help out our Bahamian friends.

Who is in charge

Who Is In Charge?

I love how Jesus uses fishermen to illustrate and explain stories for us! Fishing in the Bahamas for the past 21 days has given me a new perspective when considering this passage.

Commercial and recreational fishermen spend hours trolling, long lining and net dragging looking for their target species. Will your favorite honey hole produce – or will you come home with the skunk flag? Empty nets and empty fish boxes take a toll mentally after a long day or night of fishing.

As a captain, being told where to fish by someone who doesn’t fish for a living can make the humblest of skippers prideful. So when Jesus said ‘put your nets down here for a catch’, it was probably the last thing those weary fishermen wanted to hear. The disciples had just fished all night. They were washing their nets and cleaning up, probably thinking about going bed. The best time to fish is at night, yet they caught nothing. Now Jesus wants to fish in the same area during daylight. I can imagine Simon Peter mumbling under his breath “Yeah right Jesus, you just show up….I believe you are a carpenter aren’t you? Why don’t you just stick with your hammer and nails and I will run the fishing operation…”