During a recent fishing trip with friends, a series of unfortunate events unfolded. Had I not noticed, our trip could have gone south in a hurry. Both my float switch bilge pump and my back up bilge pump failed on me. I had become complacent in replying on the float switch and hadn’t double checked my back up in quite a while. We were taking on a little more water than normal due to the sea state and running the live well. Needless to say things got a little hairy but we managed to resolve the issue and actually had a great day of fishing.
Checking your operating systems and having redundant safety items in place is something all boaters should practice. When launching at a ramp or pushing away from your dock, it’s important to run down a checklist so that nothing is missed. Since the incident, I have replaced my float switch and both bilge pumps. I’m also adding a crash pump and a hand pump to my boat’s safety gear. Having this peace of mind and knowing what to do when things get hairy are both critical to making it home safely.
Ditch bags are another item that can save your life or the lives of your passengers. There are several manufacturers that will sell you a premade, loaded bag or you can build one yourself. You can make them as extreme as you like. Things like mirrors, whistles, lights, fishing tackle, reflective blankets, aspirin, first aid kits, EPIRBs, PLBs and handheld VHF radios are just a few of many items.
Go over these things with your fishing buddies and family members so that everyone is aware of where they are, so there is no guessing when seconds count. Getting on the water is important but getting home safely is essential.
Capt. Ryan Palmer
Family Jewell Fishing Charters