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Thread: My boat rules for friends & family (call me Captain Bligh!)

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    Default My boat rules for friends & family (call me Captain Bligh!)

    So after a few summers in Ketchikan, I've worked out a set of guidelines and rules for the friends & family group that my mom brings up each year. Would love to know if I've overlooked something, or if I'm just an overbearing tyrant. This is partly the result of different friends wanting to 'reinvent the wheel' every trip. Every single summer, we have someone new who invariably will say something like "well, I read on the internet that you catch salmon with such and such".

    ***************************************

    BOAT RULES

    SAFETY FIRST – NO MORE THAN SIX (6) PEOPLE ON BOARD AT A TIME

    I am going to give the canned speech that flight attendants give regarding lifejackets, emergency equipment, etc., to everybody. I want everyone to know where these things are and how to call the Coast Guard for help if needed.

    I check the weather forecast frequently and often decide where we’ll fish based on wind speed/direction and other factors. I may say “no” to fishing a particular area based on the weather on a given day and my decision on that is final. I may also make a decision not to fish an area (or leave it) based on the presence of commercial fishing boats or other factors. Some of these factors can corpsify us quickly, so my decision on this is final too.

    When the boat is moving at higher speeds (faster than about 7mph) everyone NEEDS to be seated. If I have to slow down suddenly, or we hit submerged debris, you’re liable to faceplant on the deck and lose teeth. I’m not going to order you to sit, but you’ve been advised of the risk.


    When we are coming in to a dock, everyone needs to stay where they are until we are secured. The boat can be very unstable at low speeds and people moving around can make docking very difficult, especially with wind or strong current.

    When we are underway at higher speeds, please do not attempt to open/close the front hatch or the cabin door. Ask me to slow down first, THEN open/close it.

    Please do not attempt to operate the boat unless I ask you to. While we’re fishing, I may ask you to adjust the wheel, or bump a motor in/out of gear at low speed. I will NOT ask you to drive the boat at anything higher than about 3mph, and please do not attempt it.


    In some circumstances, we will get VERY close to rocks and cliffs. In other circumstances, I will want to stay VERY far away from them. Please trust my judgement on such things.

    Fishing is inherently dangerous – fish hooks, gaff hooks, heavy sinkers, downrigger weights, heavy jigs with hooks and other goodies can turn your day ungoodly. Combine this with a rocking or moving boat, or a frantically thrashing halibut, and you have a recipe for unpleasantness. Stay aware of what’s going on.

    From time to time, I’ll give you directions while we’re fishing (hold the rod out, lower the tip, keep reeling, stop reeling, etc). Trust me on this stuff, as I very badly want to see you successfully get that fish into the boat.

    If you have something that looks like wet red line stuck to your fishing line DO NOT TOUCH IT. Leave it hanging over the side of the boat until I can clean your line off. It’s red jellyfish and will not make your day better.



    OTHER STUFF

    When we start fishing, Mom’s line gets set up and in the water first.

    We’re out here to catch fish. We’re also out here to have fun. Hopefully we’re going to have fun catching fish. But, if you see whales, waterfalls, etc., and want to get a closer look or have us run slower to get video, just let me know and I’ll be glad to accommodate you. I will NOT try to crowd/harass whales or other marine mammals, but I will keep us slow & steady so you can get quality video or photos. I also know of a hidden waterfall that I will try to take us to see at high tide if we happen to be in that area.

    I want you to fish for the kind of fish YOU want to catch. So long as there are not overriding safety concerns (like weather), we’ll fish pretty much how and where you want to. I will let everyone know what I think is our best chances for good fishing that day, but will go with what you guys want to do. But, sometimes I will veto a particular area/method for safety reasons.

    If you want to watch commercial fishing boats instead of fishing, I don’t mind doing so. Watching a purse seiner haul a big net of salmon onboard makes for a very cool home video. It’s fascinating to watch, but I keep a healthy distance away from them. Those big nets spread a long way under the surface with heavy current, and they can drag us under too.

    Downriggers catch salmon. They are also a fair amount of work, and require a team effort to use successfully. I’ll coach you on how to use them, but most of the time, I’ll set and retrieve them myself. Your job is to reel the fish in. Just remember that there’s a 15 pound weight attached to that cable and it can carve your hands up badly if you’re not careful. In some situations I’ll stow the downriggers and we’ll fish by other methods.

    If you take strong prescriptions (blood pressure, pain meds, etc), please do not handle the bait, lures or other tackle tied to the fishing line. Salmon have a very keen sense of smell and things like this can put them off your bait.

    I’ve been doing this a few times, and have a fairly good idea what works and what doesn’t. Some methods work great in the spring for big king salmon, but not very well in July for pink salmon. If you want to try something else (within reason), it’s fine, but we only have so much fishing time available, and I’d really like to see you catching quality fish.

    We generally will not mix gear types in the water. It creates more problems than it’s worth. If we’re bottom fishing on the anchor, I’d prefer not to drop a salmon line straight down and get a massive tangle of lines. Likewise, if we’re drifting herring for salmon, we’re not going to try putting a downrigger into the water as well.

    Different types of salmon often take different types of fishing. Pink salmon are small and abundant. King salmon are big and not so abundant. Pink salmon are caught trolling slow closer to the surface. King salmon are (usually) caught fishing much deeper at somewhat higher speeds. If you want us to target kings, I will be delighted to do so. But, king fishing is a patience game, rather than about numbers. Pink salmon will keep us hopping continuously. If we locate active silver salmon, I will want to switch gear and methods to catch them, as they are big, abundant and just a blast to catch! (they taste fantastic too!!)

    Jigs often catch more fish than bait does. But a small strip of bait can’t hurt.

    It rains in Ketchikan. A lot. Like 11 to 13 FEET a year. A good rain suit and rubber boots are a good investment (they really aren’t that expensive at the Tongass tackle shop).

    The wind blows almost every day in Ketchikan. I’ll check the wind speed and direction and decide where the calmest fishing areas will be. They may not be the most productive, but it’ll be more pleasant than plowing through 3’-5’ seas.

    There are some things that are just not a good idea to do. I’ll say so if asked. Trust me on these things, ok?

    If we get really calm weather, I’ll ask if everyone wants to try deep DEEP fishing with the electric reel. This is a chance to see fish that most people have never heard of, but it does take time (6 minutes to hit bottom, about 20 minutes to reel up).

    I know the fishing rules & regulations by heart, and I know exactly what kind of fish that is. Getting a ticket from a trooper is embarrassing. Trust me on this.


    Your job is to catch fish. My job is to drive the boat, rig the gear, bait the hooks, net the fish, clean the fish etc etc etc. However, I will heartily accept any and all offers to help clean the boat, or to vacuum pack the fish after I’ve filleted them.

  2. #2
    Member logman 49's Avatar
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    All good rules and a ton of good advice.

    I kinda feel like I need to salute you though. : )

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    Member tlingitwarrior's Avatar
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    All good, a little military, but safety first. My big one, if we are running and something falls to the floor, LEAVE IT until we stop. People are always wanting to pick up whatever, which is a great recipe for a concussion
    In 1492 Native Americans discovered Columbus lost at sea
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    If I come across as an arrogant, know-it-all jerk, it's because I am

  4. #4

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    I only skimmed it, but I didn't see my Number One. Everyone wears life jackets. Everyone. All the time. We don't even pull out from shore until they're on. Don't like it? There's the beach. We'll see you when we get back.

  5. #5
    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    Too much PC…
    My boat, My Rules, Set down, shut up and hang on..
    (CPO USN Retired)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old John View Post
    Too much PC…
    My boat, My Rules, Set down, shut up and hang on..
    (CPO USN Retired)
    Though I agree with you, the people I'm dealing with are my mother's friends and she doesn't like having them "ordered about". This is one of the reasons she does not like going on charter boats.

    So, I have to phrase my orders to them as suggestions and guidelines.

    Tlingitwarrior, I was a Marine many years ago, so you're correct that I approach things in a military way. I'm all ears for ideas on how to civilianize this kind of stuff for non-military folks.

    Brownbear, the lifejackets are part of the 'flight attendant' bit at the very start. I agree with you on this.

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    It's an excellent brief. I'd only suggest adding a blurb about how they need to follow your instructions to the letter and with snap if things start going wrong--everything from tangled gear to no kidding danger.

    Then add a signature block at the bottom, print out some copies and make them sign....
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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    If its your boat, its your rules is the general rule of thumb. I don't have that many rules but I do use some of them depending on where we are at. I am pretty selective on who comes on the boat but at that same time I don't go out for day trips. Only 3 or 4 days at a time.
    My biggest rule is no halibut over 100# come on board the boat they are only catch and release that big.

    Sweepint
    Wasilla, (when not overseas)
    '' Livn' The Dream ''
    26' Hewescraft Cuddy, twin 115 Yam

  9. #9

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    Thanks for posting. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who takes this seriously. I almost always have friends and family out with my wife and me and we also have a rule of no more than 6 adults on board (me, my wife, and 4 others.) I get funny looks and I've even offended a few, but there is no way I can keep track of any more than that. Bad things happen fast and people do some really dumb things on a boat! I also do a 'pre-flight' safety briefing every time and guests generally appreciate it. As much as I love to show off this incredible State, the weight of responsibility for other peoples' lives on Alaska waters sits heavily on me, so safety first. Always.
    "Miss Mary"
    Kingfisher 2725, twin Yamaha 150's

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    Member Ak Bird Brain's Avatar
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    I give a similar brief to everyone that goes out with me. Last weekend I took my boss and his boss out and they thanked me for the briefing. They had gone out with a charter boat the day before and didn't receive any type of brief.

    Thanks for for the tip on making sure everyone knows how to use the radio, I'm going to add that to my brief now.

    Semper Fi and keep up the good work keeping everyone safe on the water.
    Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day,
    Teach a man to fish and he'll also learn to drink, lie, and avoid the honey do list.

  11. #11

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    Great thread and great advice.
    We clear the deck on large fish and no one but myself and co-capt gaff fish.
    Thanks for the advice.

  12. #12

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    Netting fish is also covered with our group of friends, and we typically follow exactly what Tlingitwarrier covered earlier this summer. We keep the boat moving and attempt to direct the handling of the rods for our friends but usually it is a major rodeo. We always keep control of the net.

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    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    I'm all about the safety rules, but the militant fishing rules are a bit over the top...at least for my boat. We fish to have a good time, and if someone wants to try and gaff or net a fish, have a ball. If the fish gets away because they didn't do it right...well then they just learned how not to do it. It's only a fish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frostbitten View Post
    I'm all about the safety rules, but the militant fishing rules are a bit over the top...at least for my boat. We fish to have a good time, and if someone wants to try and gaff or net a fish, have a ball. If the fish gets away because they didn't do it right...well then they just learned how not to do it. It's only a fish.
    We lose plenty of fish that way too. Didn't realize that I gave the impression that I don't want anyone else trying to net fish - this is the kind of feedback thats helpful, as I'm going to condense this into a shorter email to send out to the group next summer.

    Alot of what I typed up is the result of someone getting hurt, or having very close calls - downrigger cable or backlashed braided line cutting someones hand up. Last summer we lost a LOT of downrigger gear (close to $1,000) in only two weeks because everyone wanted to "have their turn" using it. You kinda cringe when you see someone quickly crank the downrigger handle ... backwards ... and the entire spool of cable plummets to the bottom. Then the same person does it again two days later, despite me walking him through it step by step.

    Anyways, I'm open to ideas on this stuff - what to cut out, what to add.

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    Member Mkay's Avatar
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    Ahoy Cap'n, just a few questions matey. Do you do any "repel boarders" training at the dock prior to sailing, and if so do you prefer a cutlass or a saber to defend the boat. What's the punishment for bringing bananas aboard; keelhauling or kissing the gunners daughter? If we capture a local sloop, how is the loot divided? How long does it take to be entrusted to fire the 18 pounder? Is wearing a scopalomine patch a sign of weakness among your corsairs?
    Thanks, a would-be pirate
    My child was inmate of the month at Mat-Su pre-trial Correctional facility.

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    Member Bighorse's Avatar
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    Fishing sucks! You gotta pay me to captain a boat. When I fish its to kill fish and go home. Many fishing enthusiast has been ruined by greedy lower 48 "friends".


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  17. #17

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    Having a friend fold over the hoop of our boat net because they attempt to lift a 30 lb king into the boat at 90 degrees can put a damper on the rest of the netting activites, gaffing a king or silver in the trolling gear can be challenging too. Just sayin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mkay View Post
    Is wearing a scopalomine patch a sign of weakness among your corsairs?
    Thanks, a would-be pirate
    Are you kidding? I'm allergic to those patches - they give me horrible nausea and a splitting headache. I take Bonine if I need seasick meds, which oddly is never when I'm running a boat. But when I'm a passengers in someone else's boat, I'm just as likely to succumb to mal de mer as the next guy.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Zeek View Post
    ...which oddly is never when I'm running a boat. But when I'm a passengers in someone else's boat, I'm just as likely to succumb to mal de mer as the next guy.
    Nothing funny about it in my experience. Dunno if it's the distraction or concentration, but any time my wife starts feeling the queezies, I have her run the boat. Problem solved.

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    Member Alangaq's Avatar
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    We do a fair amount of jigging with a double hook leader off of a banana weight, and “the rule” with that is if you need to have your rig rebaited either leave it hanging in the water until I can get to you, or pull it up and hold it by the weight. I know this seems intuitive for most of you, but my passengers are my wife and three young boys who all have short attention spans and fishing fever. The last thing I need are banana weights and sharp hooks swinging all over the place.

    The only other thing I would add, is that I tell everyone that in the unlikely event that someone falls overboard, everyone is to maintain visual contact with the person in the water and point at them while I maneuver around to pick them up.

    Interesting… I too am prone to seasickness, but have never taken anything for it or had any issues on my own boat.
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

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