LeBlanc: A few important thoughts for your next boating trip

There are a large number of people who have moved to the Southeastern Texas Coast and many have never before had the opportunity to own a boat and get out on the water of one of our many lakes or the Gulf of Mexico and enjoy fishing and boating.

It is also easy to see that almost anyone can buy a boat and hit the water with no idea as to what they are doing. However, according to the Great State of Texas Boater Education Course is required for certain persons who are born on or after September 1, 1993 and operating on the public water of this state.

In my pointed mindset, anyone who wishes to operate a watercraft on public waters should take a Boater Education Course for their own edification as well as safety for themselves and everyone else on the water.

Getting ready for a day on the water is no simple task. Of all of the items necessary to get together, including our state mandated safety equipment, I can’t help but wonder how many folks on the water have a first aid kit of some description on board, much less one that is adequate for most of the potential accidents that can occur while fishing and boating.

One item that really should be in a first aid kit for any fisherman is a set of wire cutters. Wire cutters are important in a first aid kit when you stick a fishhook into yourself. I only know of two ways to get a fishhook out of your body and that is to cut off the eye and pull it through the skin in the same direction it started in, or cut off the barb and pull it out in the reverse direction from the way it went in.

Of course if it is a large enough hook or stuck straight in instead of kind of looping and sticking through the skin so it can be pushed through, it may take a doctor to get it out. If that is the case and the hook is on a fishing lure the hook can be cut from the lure and eliminate the discomfort of the lure flopping around.

There are also available needle nose pliers with wire cutters at the base of the jaws. These make a good tool to have, as long as they are of good quality and are able to cut rather large fish hooks. Keep in mind also that a fishhook can be dirty, rusty and generally a breeding place for bacteria. They are nothing to panic about if stuck, but a little attention can keep the wound from getting infected.

Another item that might be added to a fisherman’s first aid kit is some sun screen, especially if the fishing trip is a family outing. Sunburn can ruin a good trip and if you have the sun screen with you, you are more apt to use it then if you forget it at home and have to search some out at one of the marinas or stop on the way to the lake to pick some up.

While boating one is frequently in contact with lines (or ropes for the nautically challenged) and the result is exposure to rope burns. Consequently, something to treat minor rope burns is handy to have around in your first aid kit.

I would like to point out one “Never” to you at this time. Never wrap a rope around your hand to get a better purchase on it to accomplish a task. If you doubt the wisdom of this statement, when you happen to notice a person with missing fingers, hands or parts of hands, ask them what happened and you will find more rope stories than you will find war wounds or industrial accidents.

Wrapping a line around your hand to put some muscle into a task is tempting and natural, especially when the anchor is stuck in the mud and you can’t get enough of a grip on the line to get it free, but don’t do it. Instead let me offer another possible solution.

Run the anchor line over the bow, through an eye, and as the bow dips take in the slack and tie the line off on the nearest cleat. As the bow rises the entire force of the buoyancy of the boat is put on the anchor line and anchor. As the bow dips again, take up the slack and tie it off on the cleat again. This procedure will shortly pull the anchor free of the mud and you can be on your way, will all fingers in tack and functioning.

Another time when a person is tempted to wrap a line around their hand is when holding a boat at a dock while the driver of the truck parks or retrieves the trailer. In can be a challenge, especially on a busy, windy day, to keep the boat off of the dock and yet keep it from drifting away.

It seems almost a natural occurrence to wrap the rope around a hand and fend the boat off of the dock with feet and hand. Under those circumstances it is possible to be pulled in the water and getting tangled up in the rope or finding themselves caught between the boat and the dock.

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