Famous last words in an ill-conceived boating adventure

- by jay coyle

Acaptain pal recently directed me to a fishing video on the web. The film was shot from a self-described adventurer’s helmet cam as he was bobbing some miles offshore atop a plastic kayak. A shark larger than his vessel was circling the craft. I thought of Capt. Sam Quint’s boat Orca in the movie Jaws. ¶ The fellow delivered a breathless blowby-blow defense and stabbed at the animal with his paddle while the shark cut through the bloody bait slick the fisherman had provided. Was this guy fishing for sharks? From a kayak? ¶ A head bump by the curious animal delivered the unbalanced adventurer into the water, from which he shot like a breaching orca back onto his kayak. While the shark was counting on the surf-and-turf special, the adventurer was left counting his limbs. ¶ Smart skippers I know do their best to avoid adventure. I learned this lesson from my late father-inlaw. He was an avid fisherman and skipper of aircraft. He took to the skies for Pan Am and ended his career at the yoke of a 747. Over 33,000 flying hours, he never had an issue he couldn’t fly through, and he was never chased by a UFO. He preferred what he called

“boring” flights. ¶ I have always followed my father-in-law’s example, whether it’s dragging bait across the Gulf Steam or flipping flies in the Florida Keys. We always have a plan and execute it using the proper equipment.Backingdow­nhard on a 500-pound fish to catch it on a reel designed for plucking rainbow trout from a burbling brook never seemed like sport to us. Drifting about on what is essentiall­y a 10-foot-long plastic lure in the Gulf Stream is neither sport nor adventure. It’s stupidity. ¶ I’ve had near misses with idiots on pool toys hidden in 4-foot seas a mile offshore, but the Gulf Stream? If you run out of steam, the current will eventually take you to England—if a tanker doesn’t macerate you on the way. In the video, this adventurer is left shouting obscenitie­s and defending himself against a 12-foot shark with his lightweigh­t plastic propulsion system. ¶ Unfortunat­ely, Jaws inspired a generation of Quint wannabes hoping to adorn their walls with bleached, toothy trophies. This makes as much sense to me as brewing an allegedly performanc­eenhancing bouillabai­sse from the decapitate­d animal’s dorsal fin. I’ve stared in awe at whale sharks filter-feeding in the indigo waters offshore and have been startled by huge bull sharks appearing skiffside in knee-deep water. But I never fished for them. There is no reason to. ¶ So what could possibly inspire a fellow to go to sea atop a 10-foot roto-molded piece of plastic? Adventure? I don’t think so. Web clicks? Please. Sadly, it seems the “sport” has gone viral, and it may have already wasted the US Coast Guard’s valuable time. ¶ In Jaws, Chief Martin Brody, played by Roy Scheider, suggests to Quint that Orca might not be enough vessel: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,” he says with wide eyes. ¶ How about: You need an actual boat. Period.

A head bump by the curious animal delivered the unbalanced adventurer into the water, from which he shot like a breaching orca back onto his kayak.

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