3: Get yer belt on and get ready to reel this fish
By Jeanine Detz — March 2001
When we finally headed out, Searls and I were expected to keep an eye on the chartplotter and take turns at the helm. There was no cheating on navigation: When I caught up to the 29 and followed it for a while, Glenn quickly caught on and told me to pass it so I could stop "being a follower" and navigate on my own.
We arrived about an hour later at a buoy known for baitfish and dropped rigs with multiple small hooks. Catching bait got my fishing bug going, and I couldn't wait to get to the real thing. After filling the livewell halfway with sardines, we headed about 20 miles offshore and set out the lines. But by midday we had nothing.
It was not until late in the afternoon that Glenn jumped up, grabbed a quivering rod, and hollered, "Get yer belt on and get ready to reel this fish in!" The fish fought hard as I scrambled around the boat desperately trying to heed the instructions of Glenn and Rogers (bend at the knees, not at the hips; straighten up as you reel). After a good half-hour fight, I saw the silver shine of a barracuda at the side of our boat. My arms ached and my heart was racing; it was thrilling to be face-to-face with my first `cude. After holding the fish up for a quick photo op, Glenn released it and I watched it swim away. The excitement of that fight made me eager to wake up early the following day and try my luck again.
Since the weather forecast on our third day wasn't favorable, Edwards decided we would stay inshore and work primarily on boat handling. My day on the 27 with McCala, Glenn, and fellow student Brad Kovach was consumed by a man-overboard drill and learning how to handle the boat in less-than-ideal conditions and docking side-to. During the latter I occasionally became frustrated and tried to hand over the wheel to McCala, but to no avail. He told me to ease up on the throttles and get ready to dock--in reverse, between two boats. As I eased the 27 into the tight spot, my hands got clammy and my head filled with flashbacks of driver's ed, but I didn't give up. McCala continued to patiently coach me until the boat was in perfectly on the first try. Not bad for a rookie.
I was exhausted and ready to put my feet on land, but Glenn reminded Kovach and me that we still had to wash down the boat. (Manual labor is conveniently excluded from the brochure's list of subjects.) An hour later the gnats were in full force but the fiberglass was shining, and it was time to head back to the hotel for our last dinner and awards. I was named the "Most Enthusiastic Angler." (I think the excitement over that barracuda clinched it.)
That last day on the water, while we were practicing our handling skills, I took a corner so sharply that Glenn was thrown off balance and yelled, "Are you trying to make me sick? Watch those turns!"
"Ok, Dad," I joked, but I didn't try to hand over the wheel, as I might have done just a few days before, and I don't think I'll ever be intimidated into leaving it again.
Wellcraft's Saltwater Fishing School costs $2,750, including meals, four nights' accommodations, and class materials. Buyers of Wellcraft boats may receive discounts from their dealers.
For information, contact Bob Edwards (800) 732-4752, ext. 3944 or (912) 638-5145. Fax: (912) 638-5816.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.