By Capt. Tim Ramsey
One of the two boats already there caught his anchor line when they reeled-in their lines. If not bad enough, another boat coming out to see what was happening powered in a circle around all three boats, turning the once calm sea into a washing machine. One boat almost swamped, having to chase down their cooler afterward, and a girl on the other almost fell overboard.
One day the boat ramp at Caxambas was blocked off. Why? Because the guy at the gas dock nearby pumped twenty gallons of gasoline down his rod holder instead of into his fuel tank, and environmental and safety precautions were necessary before the dealer he just bought his boat from could get him out of the water. Miraculously, his bilge pump didn’t pump it all overboard.
These are just a few examples. Why can’t people slow down? Why can’t people give you some room? Be courteous? It’s funny how when boats blast by you when you’re way back in the mangroves, the people onboard don’t look at you. Sorry, I can still see you. They know not to give you the customary wave since they would get the finger in return. Or do they? Maybe they have no idea what they’re doing. I know it’s fun to run your boat or jet ski in back, but you’re not the only one back there. Life is really not all about you. It’s supposed to be about us. All of us. I still come off a plane near boats on their trolling motor, push pole, or just fishing in calm waters, only now, I wonder if the guy ever blew by me before. Part of me wants to give people who do that a dose of their own medicine, but I’m not that guy, even if they were guilty. I still hope people will be courteous, and I make sure those who are know I appreciate it. Come off a plane for me, you get a smile, a wave, a thumbs-up, a set of steak knives, a standing ovation, a commemorative coffee mug, T-shirt, dinner for two at the main post NCO Club, etc. Well, maybe not all of that, but you know what I mean.
Here are some things to remember:
· If you think your boat is too big for the backcountry, it is.
· If you think you’re pushing a wake, you are.
· If you think the water is crowded, it is.
· If you mentally count how many drinks you had already, the number is one too many. Go in.
· Boats don’t stop like cars so don’t tailgate other boats.
· If you trailer your boat and have a few beers on the water, you will soon be driving under the influence.
· If you’re running in the backcountry, the speed limit is not “as fast as you can go.” This applies to jet ski tours too.
· Speed limits apply to jet skis as well as boats.
· If you’re fishing in the channel, you’re in the way.
· There is no reason to operate your boat at a constant “digging a hole” speed.
· Your music is for you. Others don’t want to hear it.
· If you used a saw to cut the bow rail to mount a trolling motor, don’t go follow the guides around. In fact, never follow the guides around.
· If you suddenly see a dolphin, do not pull the throttle into neutral and make a sudden stop in the channel.
· Those girls in bikinis you want to show off will get sunburned and intoxicated and they are your responsibility. How popular will you be when they’re hungover and sunburned?
· Just because the boat doesn’t have a rear-view mirror doesn’t mean no one is back there. Look behind you.
· Launch the boat, recover the boat, get out of the way.
· Once you’re on the water is no time to ask for directions, especially to bars.
· Just because everybody wants to sit on the bow doesn’t mean they should.
· A rolled-up Bimini top will not protect you from the sun.
· Drowning looks dorkier than wearing a life jacket.
· A prop that is not spinning can still cut you. Use a swim ladder or swim from the beach.
· If you don’t know how to trailer, ask someone. Maybe your dealer will show you.
· If you can’t back your boat down the ramp without five tries, go to an empty parking lot and practice. Videos can give you helpful hints, but they don’t drive your vehicle.
· Don’t know what the markers mean? Take a safe boating course.
· Don’t know how to run your boat or what that blower switch is for? Your dealer should show you.
· An incoming tide lifts all boats. An outgoing tide strands you on the sandbar.
· Read your owner’s manual. All of them.
· If you wonder if you need a fishing license, you do.
· In the backcountry, your alcohol-induced carrying-on carries at least two hundred yards. Pipe down.
· If you go into the backcountry on an incoming tide and expect that going out on the outgoing tide will get you out, it will only get you lost.
· Don’t take selfies or talk on your phone while driving your boat. The boat you run into or creature you run over might not like it.
· If your boat is only for going to dockside bars, you’re not a boater, you’re a bar hopper. Stay ashore.
· Never skimp on sunblock. Remember it only works for a maximum of 80 minutes, no matter how expensive, and you waste most of that spray you find so convenient.
· You don’t have to keep every fish. Catch and release is a thing. So are slot limits, closed seasons, and minimum lengths.
· You are not a jet ski expert ten minutes after getting on one for the first time.
· Only you are impressed with your jet ski maneuvers. Operate safely.
· If you can’t go on a sandbar or beach without cleaning up after yourself and taking your trash with you, don’t go.
· No one is impressed with how much pot you’re smoking.
· Buy a first aid kit. A good one. You’ll use it more than you might think.