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Sportfishing

From the Tackle Box

A "Memorable" Season

It all started last June when my brother Chip showed up to the boat as we departed for our first tournament of the year in a sling. "What happened?" I asked. "Work," he replied. "I'll be alright, I took some Advil." We left for four days and Chip did his best, sling and all.

"Not one fish? How could that be possible?" I asked aloud after we finished the event.

"Maybe it was the lightning strike?" Tom, the boat's owner, chuckled. "Oh yeah. Maybe," I said. The outriggers were struck while we jogged through a thunderstorm on the first day. Whatever the case may have been, back at the marina, it seemed to us that every other boat in the tournament found qualifying fish.

I thought, "Okay, it's early in the year, we'll get 'em at the next one." A couple of weeks later we were fishing our second event when we got a relayed distress call that a nearby boat had lost all power, had no radio, and was basically drifting towards Bermuda.

Tom heard the call, checked the lat/lon, and realized we were only about ten miles away. We'd be out of the tournament, but safety first. Our team gave the ailing boat and crew a tow. But sometimes karma gets it backwards. I woke up the next morning with both eyes swollen shut compliments of viral conjunctivitis (my son had a cold and sneezed on me a few days prior to the tourney).

It was August, the sky was clear, and our team's 50-footer was making a solid 29 knots. For the first time all year every crewmember was in one piece; this was going to be a good day to find fish.

"Did you hear that?" asked Tom. With 2,100 hp running at 2000 rpm there was a lot of noise on this express sportfisherman, but he had picked up on a subtle and disturbing sound.

The now-able-bodied Chip headed down to the engine room. We saw his facial expression on the ER's camera and it didn't look good. Tom backed off the throttles and we lost the port motor.

He went below and I piloted the boat home on the good engine, while Chip and Tom tried to see what was wrong. As I drove towards the inlet, I thought that I'd never seen such a flat ocean begging to be fished. Oh well, we'd get the boat fixed up and be back out for the last two days of the tournament. How bad could it be?

"What do you mean terminal?!" I yelled in my head as the mechanic exited the engine room with the breaker bar in his hand. He gave us his first impression: It required a total rebuild.

"This can't be happening," I said to myself. For the next two days, we sat on our 50-foot planter and watched boats weigh in some impressive pelagics. Some days you're the bug, and some days you're the windshield.

With last year in our wake and two newly rebuilt motors, (why take chances?), our team is optimistic about the upcoming season. After all, diehard anglers never quit. And what could possibly go wrong, really?

This article originally appeared in the March 2010 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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