Being out on the water is always fun … well, most of the time. Along with the exhilaration of being in a boat and feeling free to go wherever you wish also comes the unexpected.
A few years ago, my daughter, Brittany, won a qualifying event to fish the IGFA Junior Angler World Championship down in Key West, FL. She had fished the inaugural event a couple of years earlier, where she caught her first world record fish. She was excited to have the chance to compete once again.
Our guide had decided to fish a wreck in the Marquesas where he knew that permit fish usually hung out. We had been fishing for an hour or so when I saw a small squall in the distance, but I simply ignored it.
I was surprised when our guide also noticed it, and commented that we needed to leave. “Because of that small squall?” I asked. On the Gulf Coast we fish amidst squalls all of the time.
He looked back at me through squinted eyes as he started the engine, and we got underway. “Let me tell you a little story,” he said as he popped the boat up on a plane.
It seems that a year or so earlier, he had a charter with a woman who was set on breaking a world record of some species, which one I don’t recall. She and her husband joined our guide and they set out early one morning.
His ‘plan A’ fell through when he arrived at the spot that he had chosen and found the conditions unsuitable. Thus, he changed to ‘plan B’ and headed for the Marquesas.
As a side note: The Marquesas are a pretty good run and, as such, there typically aren’t many anglers who fish there. It also covers a huge unpopulated area. It’s famously known as the place where Mel Fisher found the Spanish galleon, called the Atocha, and salvaged millions of dollars’ worth of treasure.
Our guide arrived, anchored up, and started to fish near a shrimp boat. The woman was soon hooked up on light tackle. While she was fighting the fish, the shrimp boat sailed away leaving them alone.
A small squall was approaching, which the guide ignored in order to let the woman catch her record fish. By the time she finally had caught the fish, lightning was beginning to strike in the distance.
“We better get underway,” he told her and her husband. But when he went to start the engine—nothing. Evidently, stray current from a distant lightning strike had fried the engine control unit. They were stranded … in an 17-foot boat … miles from anywhere … with only enough food and water for a one day trip.
A short time later, they saw a boat running in the distance and he retrieved his brand new flares to signal them. But when he fired the flare gun, the flare was a dud and it failed to fire.
Since he had been forced to change his plans, no one knew where he had gone. For the next three days, the three of them remained stranded in that 17-foot boat in the middle of nowhere!
Finally, on the third day, he saw a boat approaching and fired his small .38 pistol six times and attracted their attention. They were rescued.
Now, every time that I’m out on the water in some remote area, I think of his story, especially when bad weather starts to move in.
Disclaimer: Frank Wilem is an author, speaker, and all around funny and entertaining guy. On this blog, his stories are based on his real life experiences, often with a satirical twist.
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