Boating takes us into a completely different atmosphere. Maybe even a different universe. The rewards and costs are completely unlike those we deal with on dry land, and as a result, the unexpected often pops up. Weve touched on how to head off many potential problems in the past; outboard troubleshooting, hypothermia preparedness, rough sea conditions, and the like. But there are different types of issues which may seem smaller in perspective, but are vitally important nonetheless. Are you ready to face these five challenges?
Problem: UNINTENDED PIERCINGS - When you have fish hooks swinging through the air, sooner or later, someones going to get one in an unexpected place---like their hand, leg, foot, or who knows where. It may be funny to think about a crankbait hanging from someone elses forehead, but yikes, it hurts!
Solution: THE PORTUGUESE METHOD - Standard practice is to force the point of the hook out through the skin, and clip if off in front of the barb so the rest of the hook can slide back out. But theres a better method, one which has been used by Portuguese fishermen for eons. First, cut off a 10-inch length of strong (20 pound test or better) line. Then wrap it around the center of the bend in the hook several times, down low, close to the skin. Hold both ends in your right hand, while you push down on the eye of the hook with your left hand. Pull the line with a quick jerk, and the point will pop out.
EXTRA TIP: Yes, its hard to envision this process; go to Youtube and search "remove a fish hook from skin" and youll find several videos documenting the procedure, which make it quite clear.
Problem: BOAT HUNGER - Once you shove off the dock, youre stuck with the provisions youve packed and unless your boat has a built-in grill, not one crumb more. You already know this, of course, but how many times has this fact caught you off guard? One thing we often forget is how quickly many foods go stale at sea. The moist air will take the crunch out of a bag of chips in hours, and will help turn a sandwich to mush in no time---if, that is, the sandwich didnt get creamed while bouncing around in a cooler full of ice and drinks.
Solution: AIR-TIGHT/RIGID PACKAGING - Dump that bag of chips into a gallon-sized Zipper-lock baggie, and you can re-seal it every time you munch. Thatll keep those chips or pretzels fresh until the sun goes down. Put sandwiches and other perishables into Tupperwear-style containers, to keep them from getting mushy or getting smashed in the cooler.
EXTRA TIP: One of the best boat foods ever invented is Raman noodles. Just fill a thermos container with boiling water when you leave home, and when you feel the need for a hot meal, drop in the noodles and seasoning. Let it percolate for a few minutes, and its almost as if you cooked on your center console.
Problem: MOTION SICKNESS - No, youre not going to die, but it might feel like you will. Seasickness strikes many people, because the inner ear (your center of balance) is telling the brain one thing, while your eyes are telling the brain something completely different. Net result? That bacon and egg breakfast sandwich gets re-exposed to daylight.
Solution: DRUGS - US Navy studies show that drugs are usually the best way to fight seasickness. Dramamine is the old stand-by, but it makes you very drowsy. Bonine is a good alternative, though it also has this effect on many people. Scopolamine (the patch) also proves helpful for many folks, and the biggest complaint is merely dry-mouth. But, this alternative does require a prescription.
EXTRA TIP: Many people find that simply taking off their shoes and going barefoot helps quite a bit. The ultimate solution to seasickness? Get to a tree, and hug it.
Problem: WET FEET - Anyone whos been fishing on a boat knows the tragic nature of wearing leaky shoes while standing on a wet deck. Yech. And the worst part is, once your feet get wet theyll stay that way for the rest of the day.
Solution: BOOTS - But not just any old boots. Wear the cheap rubber ones, and youll find that half the time your feet sweat so much that they get wet, anyway. And thats an even grosser wet than sea water wet. Instead, you need a pair of boots that are watertight, yet breathe at the same time. Gore-Tex is the best bet. Boots that are made with a combination of Gore-Tex and leather are usually the top choice. Another option is to wear sock "liners" which wick moisture away from your feet. Some folks also prefer rubber and leather combination boots.
EXTRA TIP: If you dont have the proper boots and your shoes get wet, to dry them out, tie the laces together and hang them from the T-top. Thatll leave them exposed to both the sun and the breeze, and dry em out fast.
Problem: GETTING BEAT UP BY ROUGH SEAS - After a long day on a small boat in open waters, you know what it feels like to be a Rock em Sock em robot.
Solution: BEAN BAGS - Toss one of these on the deck, plop down on it, and youll be 100-percent insulated from the blows. In fact, sitting in a beanie is usually far more comfortable than sitting in any regular seat on the boat. And after a half-hour or so of resting in one, youll be ready to stand back up, grab your rods, and out-fish the rest of the crew.
EXTRA TIP: Get one made with marine vinyl. Regular materials may allow the beanie to become saturated if it gets hit by spray or rain. Marine vinyl also stands up better to the sharp things found on boats, like fish hooks and bait knives.
DOUBLE EXTRA TIP: The biggest problem with beanies is that theyre bulky and they get in the way; if your boat has a T-top, bring along a couple extra bungee cords. When the beanie isnt in use, toss it on top of the T-top and bungee it in place.