I can remember the first time I took
my boat out on an unfamiliar body of water for a fishing
trip. Although I had studied a map of the lake I was
going to be fishing, I found it a bit intimidating to
find my way around once I was on the water. The creeks
and landmarks that appeared so visible on the map, where
not nearly defined and easy to find when puttin' around
on the water. I'm sure that this happens to almost everyone
that goes boating at some time or another.
I recently talked with one of my local
fishing buddies that went fishing with another friend
of mine at a nearby lake. After a morning of fishing
that produced a couple of fish for each fisherman, they
were ready to start home before the heat became totally
unbearable. There was just one problem; they couldn't
find their way back to the boat ramp. They searched
and drove around for quite some time before finally
finding the cove that contained the boat ramp they had
used to launch their boat. After burning up more gas
finding the ramp than they used to find fish (according
to the friend that wasn't driving), they trailered the
boat and returned home. This story, funny as it was,
brought to mind a couple of points I wanted to share.
It is always important to familiarize yourself with
landmarks when going out on the water, especially if
you are not familiar with the lake. A boat house, a
large rock at the mouth of a creek, a peculiar looking
tree or whatever you can use to mentally mark your location
is always a good idea.
With the technology of a GPS (global positioning system),
it is a good idea to mark a waypoint at the ramp before
heading out on the water. I know I've used mine to help
me find the exact location of the boat ramp after a
long day of fishing on a new lake. These units have
become more affordable and user friendly over the past
couple of years.
In the event you do become lost, the first thing to
do is to stay calm and not panic. Most lakes will have
some place you can stop and ask for directions, such
as a marina or another boat dock. You can also ease
up to someone else on the water and ask for directions
to the boat ramp you are looking for. Most people are
more than willing to help you out.
Finally, it is always a good idea to carry a portable
cell phone with you in the boat. This can be a lifesaver
in the event of an emergency. I have known more than
one individual that has used their cell phone to call
for help after witnessing an accident on the water or
being involved in one them self. Last March, my Ranger
boat dealer, Gary Wendeborn of Gary's Marine in Gatesville,
TX came upon a boat wreck in the middle of Lake Amistad.
They had a phone and were able to summon an ambulance
and other authorities to be waiting at the boat ramp
when they brought in a badly injured fisherman. The
fact that the ambulance was at the ramp waiting for
them when they got the man out of the water, in their
boat and to the ramp, probably saved his life. Don't
leave that phone in the truck! Take it with you and
turn it off if you don't want to be disturbed. If you
need or want it, you can always turn it on
As for my buddies, they got home safely. Fortunately
they had enough drinks and cigars to help pass the time
until they found their way back to the ramp.
Until next time, enjoy the great outdoors.