Teach Your Babies to Swim!

Growing up, I had a particularly hard time learning to swim. Nearly drowned when I was about 7 – so I decided to learn. One of the problems was that during segregation, there were very few pools which allowed black folks. The closest one to us was about 25 miles away in Alexandria, Va., which meant that I only got to work on swimming about twice a year.

When they started integrating facilities n the early 60’s, I decided to take some swim classes – convincing my parents that since a common summer activity for us was fishing  on the York River and Chesapeake Bay, learning to swim was a safety issue.

Didn’t really work for a long time, until I sort of mastered the “Dog Paddle”.

The following summer I spent with cousins on the Ocean. My “half fish” friends and cousins were jumping off a pier into a channel leading from the Yacht Harbor to the sea. So… in typical teenage desire to be one of the group …

Because of body fat, babies can’t sink – and can be taught very quickly to swim.

I jumped in to the 20′ deep channel. First time I had ever tried to swim in salt water. I floated right to the top, and found it easy to keep my head above water due to the increased buoyancy in salt water. The problem was the current was running with the tide out to sea – which rapidly was whipping past the ladder on the side of the pier which everyone was using to get back out. Sink or swim time…

I learned to swim, and would become a good swimmer.

Caught the boat bug – probably from my parents who owned a small runabout. I migrated to larger and larger boats. It is common on the Potomac to anchor your boat at a beach on one side or the other in fairly shallow water (depending on how deep in the water your hull went) and dingy or walk to the shore. One popular spot was called “Sharks Tooth Bay” because along the shore you could find fossils and hundreds of fossilized shark’s teeth. On this particular day, I set the anchor and joined friends. The anchor broke loose – resulting in he boat beginning to drift across the river. Jumping in to swim to the boat, I didn’t realize it was the wind which was pushing it faster than I could swim. The long and short of it is I wound up swimming nearly 3 miles – all the way across the river – to catch the boat in fresh water.

Full Throttle Vest Inflat Auto Univ Red 3205RED00

Inflatable life vest designed to auto-inflate when the wearer hits the water

Another night, on a friend’s boat – the Captain went for a leak on the transom and fell off the boat unbeknownst to the rest of us in the cabin. Since we were a couple of miles offshore -he left the boat in gear at low speed when he decided to take his “break”. When we discovered our missing Captain we had no idea how long he had been gone – so we reversed the course heading and started to search. Fortunately the guy had been a LRP, which was one of the precursors to the SEALS, and knew what to do. He made water wings out of his white pants, which kept him afloat – as well as made it easier for us to spot him with the boat’s powerful spotlight.

I don’t know any long term boat owners who haven’t fallen off their boats at one time or another. One of the hazards of even well designed decks is dew or rain making them slippery. Through the years I have pulled more than one non-swimmer out of the water – and a few swimmers who got caught in the currents. Because of that, I wear  an inflatable life jacket which blows up when you fall in when out on the water fishing or beaching. They are expensive (although the prices are falling) – so not a lot of boaters carry them.

Teach your kids to swim. I started mine as babies in a baby swim class. And for those worried about the effect of water on their hair…

It’s a lot better than drowning.

Swim lessons help minority children break cycle

Wanda Butts dropped the phone and screamed when she heard the news that her son was dead.

Josh had drowned while rafting on a lake with friends. The 16-year-old didn’t know how to swim, and he wasn’t wearing a life jacket.

“I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t want to believe it: that just like that, my son had drowned and he was gone,” she said, recalling the 2006 tragedy.

Butts had worried about her son’s safety when it came to street violence or driving, and she said she had always warned him of those dangers. But water accidents never crossed her mind. Continue reading

River Monsters Failure to Catch

As an avid fisherman – I started watching the River Monsters series becoming rapidly bored with the false sense of drama  over the large fish supposedly attacking humans swimming, and the lack of focus on the fish themselves and their ecosystems.

Never to disappoint, it seems the show has discovered Bull Sharks. A species of shark which inhabits most of the world’s oceans, and is capable of living in fresh or salt water. Bull sharks are the most dangerous to humans of the shark species, accounting for the vast majority of bites – simply because the region they inhabit tends to be around the shallows in inlets where food is washed out by the receding tide. Areas where people tend to swim and surf. I have caught 4 footers, and even an 8 footer going after game species such as Grouper and Rockfish as by-catch. But I have yet to hear of a Bull Shark attacking anyone in fresh water. Hooking one is no big deal – you know you have one on the line when it hits like a freight train, and then instantly starts to roll to spit out the hook.

A full grown Bull shark

Was reading  book about the history of the development of the Washington, DC area – and was somewhat surprised to see that in the 1800’s a 12 foot Bull shark was caught off the pier in Georgetown. Of course the Potomac River was about 3 times the size it is now then. But it is not unusual to see salt water species, such as crabs just a few miles below the city even today.

If the show ever gets around to actually providing information about the fish species, showing the fish, and talking about the habitat that enables the fish to reach huge size – then I might tune in again. But I, for one am really tired of the rather lame attempts to make things dramatic. In the series premier, they catch a truly glorious fish – a 350 lb Grouper, and virtually ignore it. Geez…

‘River Monsters’ Premiere: The Search For A Bull Shark; Exciting Or Too Slow? (VIDEO)

Jeremy Wade and “River Monsters” (Sun., 9 p.m. ET on Animal Planet) returned for a fourth season, with Wade on the hunt for a bigger and better monster. He came up slightly short with a juvenile freshwater bull shark, though it was still six feet in length. Ironically, while looking for the bull shark, Wade found a seven foot long, 350 pound grouper.

A grouper might not traditionally be thought of as dangerous or a monster, per se, but when dealing with that size, it certainly seems pretty monstrous. The TCPalmsays the show is a “fun reminder that we have some special creatures sharing our environment with us.”

The New York Daily News, on the other hand, was a little disappointed with this premiere. They feel that the series needs to talk less about the monsters sharing the world with us, and spend more time showing them.

A little Jackie Wilson. Got nothing to do with fishing, Monsters, the River, current TV shows, or Jeremy Wade’s failure to catch fish…

But is infinitely more entertaining.

One Part Water… Two Parts Stupid!

I’ve been active in boating for over 30 years.  In that time I have seen some really stupid folks on the water…

Practicing their own elimination from the gene pool.

My current favorite is a group of boneheads towing their kids on wakeboards in an ocean inlet. Which, besides the unpredictable 20 knot subsurface currents, is also is directly over the area where surf casters regularly catch 6′ Bull Sharks who tend to think or wriggling arms and legs in the water as “snacks”. I’ve occasionally had hits out there which take my 13′ heavy rod horizontal, and part the 65 lb Spiderwire above the steel leader, when fishing for Drum which can go in the 60lb range (yeah, it’s overkill)… Suggesting larger shark. Every few years somebody gets chomped, drowned, or “food processed” by a boat prop to much teeth gnashing and anguish in a situation which is 100% preventable through the application of any small amount of  IQ over room temperature…

The Bible of boating is Chapmans Piloting, which quite frankly should be required reading for anyone, in anything floating in something larger than a hot tub.

This guy gets lucky… Looks like he’ll be looking for a new van!

Watched a guy do something very similar to this, trying to launch a 30′ boat with a little Jeep Wrangler. 12,000 lbs of boat, 4,000 lbs of truck on slippery incline = boat and truck in the water.

This is my all time favorite of a guy who apparently decided to “Split the Middle” on the old boater mnemonic “Red Right Return” when confronted with a Green Marker!

Speed Boat Owned

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