As I’ve graduated from boat to boat, it has become evident that my equipment load has become bigger and bigger – almost in direct proportion to the degree that I’ve become increasingly paranoid about potential problems! Looking back, my early forays were pretty carefree. I only needed a small outboard motor, an aluminum boat, some oars, a gas tank, a stinky old yellow plastic bucket to carry my lunch and a canteen. Oh, and you couldn’t forget your old trusty, but rusty, stringer either!
It was a simple time, and I sure didn’t worry too much. My safety device was an old seat cushion, one that had black mold growing under the cracked plastic cover. I didn’t really know if it would float anyway! I used bubble gum if I had a leak in the seams of the aluminum hull, and I actually found some still pressed into the rear corner of one of my old boats a few years ago. It was pretty brittle, but still doing its job. Impressive stuff!
My first big boy boat was an 18-foot Cravelle trihull that had a 4.3 liter Merc inboard/outboard with a finicky carburetor. I realized that I now had to bring along a lot of tools for the sudden stops caused by a sticky gas float. A good hammer to tap the carburetor, all kinds of screwdrivers and crescent wrenches, flashlights, and of course a box of old spare parts – spark plugs, a couple sets of points, condensers and distributor caps (remember those!). Spare ropes to tow others (or be towed), a spare prop and gas hoses also were onboard! Most of it was old nasty stuff that sat in the bottom of the bilge wash, but back then all that mattered was that it worked and got me to the fishing hole and back. If both batteries were charged, we were off to war. Still simple!
Fast forward to today. Now it seems every time something goes wrong, I have to make sure I’m prepared for bear, just in case it happens again! Like the other day, when I found a loose screw and reached in for an Allen wrench. As my buddy saw me bring out three sets of the wrenches, he exclaimed about why I needed them all. I sheepishly admitted that after a problem a few years ago, it seemed like I kept running into a perfect set. You know, one for the dash, another for the locker and one in the tool kit. What? Neurotic was the first thought I had at that point, which led me to a brutally honest self-appraisal of what would cause a normally sane angler to go so overboard?
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Looking through what else I had squirreled away in the various recesses, I kept finding stuff I was sure at the time would be perfect in case of an emergency or regular maintenance. Three first-aid kits, several sets of winter clothes, extra shoes and hats galore. Each item was the result of an “if one is good, another won’t hurt” mentality. You never know what can come up 20 miles out in the turbulent, high seas of Millerton! Flares, whistles, strobe lights, jumper cables, chains, full tool kits, extra oil, special ropes, every kind of sunscreen ever made from 15 to 50 SPF, plus five different bug repellants! That’s for starters: Fishing tackle was another matter!
I’ve found it can be difficult to sniff out rotting food, weeks after it was strategically placed in the deep recesses of your boat to keep you from starving. Differentiating between hidden old salami sandwiches and the special aroma of Pro Cure Bloody Tuna can be problematic as you follow the scent. Whew!
OK, I admit it. I have graduated into a certified closet fishing “prepper,” ready for the zombie apocalypse when it happens. Funny, the real problem has now became crystal clear! It’s no longer whether I have what I need – it’s if I can ever find it again. Help! Never give up!