Staying Calm In a Boat
By Brad Durick
Have you ever had one of those feelings that you are in a place or a situation where you probably shouldn’t be? Every so often you just find yourself in a situation that you had no intention of finding yourself in and have no control over.
A couple weeks ago I was in just one of those situations. The weather report was to be warm but windy. My uncle and his friend had just traveled 600 miles to be in Devils Lake for a weekend of fishing for walleyes and pike. Friday night when we all arrived at the lake, the water was like glass and the fish were even cooperating with us. Saturday morning came and we were prepared for the worst with the wind. We loaded up the boat and decided to drive until we found a landing that looked good and then we were going to find a place to fish.
The first place was one of my favorite landings but the wind was coming in a way that loading at the end of the day would have been treacherous. So just keep driving to the next one. When crossing a bridge we noticed that a connecting lake was smooth as glass and I know that the fishing would be good. As we came around to the landing we saw that the waves weren’t that bad and crossing the lake would be rough but tolerable. Now that we had decided what to do it was off to catch some fish.
We rolled into our fishing spot about 11:00 am and immediately started to catch fish. After about six fish we noticed that the wind had really come up and decided that we should head back to the truck to find some calmer water. With rain gear on and everything strapped down we are off for what would be a fairly rough ride. As we came around the corner for the long straight ride to the landing we were met with a fury that I could have never imagined. There were waves that were eight feet high. Normally when you get waves this big they roll and you can just go over them. It is a bumpy ride but you can make it. The problem on this day was that with the gusty wind there were eight-foot waves that were choppy and close together meaning that you jumped one and ate the next. On about the fifth wave we stood the boat up on end and put the motor in the water killing it. Now we were in that situation that we didn’t want to be in. Standing in four inches of water with Eight-foot waves crashing over us with no high gear in the motor. The best solution was to turn around and get back into the bay and devise a game plan.
Once we got into the bay and some calm water we just took a deep breath and realized that the safest solution was to catch a ride to the trailer and load the boat off the road. This is not an easy task but seemed better than the alternative. I jumped out at the road and flagged down a car for a ride to the trailer. All was well in the end but that really is a reminder of situations that can be scary.
We heard once we got back that some folks had actually sank their boat crossing the same bay to get to the same place we were trying to go. The lesson of this is stay calm when you find yourself in that less than great situation. If you keep your head about you it will be much easier to stay in control and prevent an event that could be deadly. Oh yah, when the weather guy says beware of high wind, stay somewhat close to the landing so you have an easy escape route and don’t find yourself stranded.