Hi this is Captain Earl. One spring day I had a group of anglers onboard and we were chumming near the Chandelier Islands sand bars hoping to attract a Cobia. The run was on and there were several other boats anchored nearby, respectfully distanced from one another, all looking for some Cobia action. The weather was decent with a bit of a chop on the water and two to three feet swells. All-in-all it was a good day to be fishing and our hopes were high.
Shortly after we arrived a single elderly fisherman pulled up nearby and threw his anchor out. Nothing unusual about another boat searching for Cobia, except the old man had no one else in his boat and was fishing alone. I moved my attention to watching our lines. When I looked up it appeared that his boat had fouled the outboard motor with the anchor line, which was now to the stern rather than the bow as it should be. This allowed the wave action to spray over the stern and water was getting into the boat. He may have misjudged when he threw his anchor and when it grabbed the bottom the tide or wind swung the boat around and the leg of the outboard went over the line and got tangled. However it happened, he needed to untangle it immediately to keep the boat from filling with water.
The next time I looked up he was struggling with the anchor line, and it seemed he was not able to free it from the motor and let the boat turn into the wind. While he was trying to free the rope he leaned over the stern, a wave rocked the boat, and he fell overboard (He told me this later). I did not see him go overboard, but I was curious as to why the boat seemed to be anchored to the stern, something no experienced boater would do under the wind and wave conditions we were experiencing. By golly there has to be an explanation. What was going on? Could he straighten it out by himself?
I kept an eye on him, and I quickly saw what was going on. The old gentleman was hanging on to the anchor line, but he was not in the stern of the boat, he was in the water! Dog gone, “Man overboard!” and he needed immediate help. We quickly pulled anchor and motored over to his boat. When we got there we found the elderly man in the water at the stern of the boat, completely spent, and hanging on to the anchor rope with what little strength he had left. We managed to get him out of the water and back into his boat to live and fish another day. I am sure he never went offshore alone again. He learned his lesson the hard way and was very lucky that we noticed his dilemma and were able to get to him before he lost his grip on the anchor line and drifted away from his boat.
Boating safety should always in the forefront of your mind. Fish will always be there, so it is important that you stay safe so you can fish again tomorrow. If you have a problem that requires you to lean over the rail or in some way be in an awkward position as you work on it, please put on your life jacket. Should there be a sudden wave or shifting and you go overboard, the life jacket will provide flotation while you make your way back into the boat.
Captain Earl is a fine charter boat captain, and a frequent contributor to the Captaintuna.com Blog.