Big water/bad weather boating advice thread

Discussion in 'Boats, Blinds, & Gadgets Forum' started by billblack, Dec 13, 2010.

  1. billblack

    billblack Refuge Member

    Nov 5, 2006
    Sebastian, FL
    Hi folks,
    Here in Kansas we just had a tragic accident in which 3 duck hunters perished on John Redmond Reservoir in high wind conditions. Since there were no survivors there is no way of knowing what truly happened, but it made me think about how dangerous it can be to be aboard a boat in the winter. I spent the last five years in Florida and Virginia where there are minimum safety gear standards enforced by the Coast Guard.
    What I'd like to see happen in this thread is a discussion about things like:
    Boat handling in bad weather, safety gear that is relevant to winter boating and/or waterfowling, strategies to deal with things like engine failures and boat damage and anything else that y'all think someone else might be able to use to be safer.
    I don't have a lot to share other than that we carry roadside flares in addition to a flare gun in the safety case we have to beach the boat and light a fire they'll always start and burn hot enough to light even damp wood.
    Any suggestions you might have are might save a life someday.
  2. 1995 US1

    1995 US1 Moderator Moderator

    May 25, 2003
    Benton, Arkansas
    PFD's are for more than butt cushions. I have gotten anal about everyone in my boat wearing them. Just stop and think what you will tell your hunting buddies wife/mother/kids/siblings: "Well, we had life jackets, but, we wuz sittin on em when the boat rolled over, so I don't know where your husband/brother/father/son's body is. I really don't want to have that conversation.
    WoodieSC, freefall and billblack like this.
  3. MissedAgain

    MissedAgain Elite Refuge Member

    Dec 2, 2002
    Orlando, FL
    Every year we lose hunters to bad decisions. Canoes and johnboats in too rough conditions, freezing weather, sheer stupidity.

    I have been the same - 14 ft aluminum boat on a lake in 40+ mph winds, no huge waves but if the bow of the boat was lifted, it spun around and I was then facing shore. (no kidding) Chasing cripples with a 12 ft canoe in 3 ft rollers. Ice hunting. My friends drew up a cartoon of me in a little boat in big waves yelling at a US CG helicopter to back off, that it was my hunting spot. I've done my share and actually swam in once on a lake with ice on it. I've been 35 miles offshore fishing in a 17 ft boat. Right up there with STUPID, but I have survived for some reason only God knows.

    We, as hunters, often do some really stupid things and often think we are immortal. Some get it reinforced and others learn the real life lesson and get the answers regarding eternal life answered too.

    Some things to do
    - stay home when it is too windy, snowy, nasty out.
    - carry dry clothes with you (a full change including underwear and a beach towel).
    - fire starting items - gas from your fuel can plus something to light it.
    - Emergency blankets
    - Wear your life jackets
    - Life Insurance
    - Know your equipment ad have it with you
    - KNOW how the boat handles in nasty weather -OTHERWISE YOU HAVE NO REASON BEING OUT IN IT

    The hardest thing to do is to stay home. Work all week and you get 1 day to play, the birds are down and it is "on". 2 days later they have a funeral cause someone did not know his equipment or how to deal with that wave over the transom. It happens every day, some guys know what to do, some hesitate and swim/drown/hypothermia. Don't chase the cripple or dog (marsh rat owner) as it aint worth YOUR life.

    No amount of "advise" will save anyone. We all do stupid things, many live, many die. The only way to live long and healthy is to learn a helathy respect for nature and know when to say NO and stay home, play with the kids and thank God for them.
    WoodieSC, CarveDucks and billblack like this.
  4. Kajun Kamakazi

    Kajun Kamakazi Senior Refuge Member

    Feb 28, 2010
    SW LA
    I just wish people would put their running lights on or even bother to bring some. And yes both of them are essential not just the front one. Everytime this year I am on the way to the spot, goin down the narrow canals and the only thing that keeps me from running them over is the chop from their motor and the smell of the 2 stroke.
  5. merganser bill

    merganser bill Elite Refuge Member

    Oct 9, 2000
    n.granville n.y u.s
    I would say don't overload your boat just consider weight of people.gear.maybe ice build up on boat blind especially one with grass matts,check weather forecast for wind,type boat,if boat has adequate power,dogs weight,shallow water with big waves is real dangerous cause boat to roll if hits bottom,wear life jackets and common sense.I personaly no longer go out in high winds have had to many close encounters one two years a go on Ontario just lucky to be here no duck or fish is woth it.:amen
    marshmob and billblack like this.

    H2OFOWLR Elite Refuge Member

    Jul 16, 2003
    Greenville, NC
    Properly functioning bilge pumps (with an emphasis on multiples). If you can work it, have 2 500 gph pumps vs. one 1000 gph pump. This way if one fails, you have another. If you dont have an exposed bilge area, get an automatic float switch.

    Handheld GPS, waterproof charts, first aid kit, at least two forms of communication (i.e. VHF, cell phone), SPOT system or DSC configured from GPS to VHF, flares, air horn, and like many other said, clothes, blankets, etc. all in a waterproof bag. I carry 1 Type 1 PFD for every passenger on board (required as a licensed captain, but would recommend it anyway) plus a throwable which is always accessible by hand.

    I operate in the coastal waters of NC so some of this may be overkill for some folks depending on where you operate.

    Hope this helps :tu
    obx-dux and billblack like this.
  7. eze

    eze Senior Refuge Member

    Dec 26, 2008
    I think knowing how your boat handles rough water is one of the biggest factors. Learn how your boat handles the rough water before its December. Hug the bankline to get out of some of the wind. Get to the ramp 30 minutes earlier so you can troll to your spot instead of running WOT. Wear your life jacket, most of the areas I hunt are only a few hundred yards from the bank and some civilization so if I go in the water with my PFD on, good chance Im making it to the bank with only hypothermia.
    billblack likes this.
  8. Tom Ayers

    Tom Ayers Senior Refuge Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Canton, Ohio
    From what I see is there are a lot of hunters that in my mind use boats that are not intended for the type of water they are being used in. Bigger is always better. Tom.
  9. lizard55033

    lizard55033 Senior Refuge Member

    May 29, 2008
    I run a 14' deep V with a 25 horse merc here in MN.... I run some deep and shallow big waters. I have been out on days that I've had to fight 3 foot rollers and white caps comming the 3 miles back to the launch.

    1.) Run your duck boat in the summer when the weather is bad and rough to get the feel of things...

    2.) Test your waders; how they act when your in over your head. Then ad you life jacket...

    3.) Is your life jacket bouyent enough for you and all your wet cloths and waders...

    4.) First aid kits (and know how to use them), extra clothing, and ziplock bags for your cell phones incase you do take a dump.

    5.) Here's a big one; that I bet 99% have never practiced. In deeper water(can't touch bottom) with your waders on and say a light hunting jacket; try to get back into the boat...
    Larry Welch and billblack like this.
  10. billblack

    billblack Refuge Member

    Nov 5, 2006
    Sebastian, FL
    Good stuff so far everyone...something my son reminded me of earlier while we were speaking on the phone is something I have preached to both he and his brother for quite a long time...
    Do not ever be afraid to beach the boat if it gets too bad. It is better to get back home late than not get back home. Beach the boat, tie it to something and build a fire if you need to. Walk to a road and catch a ride back to the truck if you don't have a cell phone or cannot get a signal. If you are alive there will be many other days to hunt. Wives might be a little PO'ed if you are late, but most would prefer late to never.
    Float plans - Leaving a note in the truck with your planned destination might be a good idea. It requires some forward planning but might prove valuable.
    Of course, if your wife doesn't hunt with you, do not let her read this thread.:)

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