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Vol 47 | Num 20 | Sep 14, 2022

Offshore Report Ocean City Report Ship to Shore Chum Lines Delaware Report Virginia Report Issue Photos
Chum Lines

Article by Capt. Mark Sampson

I don't have to tell anyone that this has been a busy boating season. From jet skis to sailboats, paddle boards to tiki bars, jon boats to house boats, just about every type of watercraft you can imagine could be found at one time or another pushing about Delmarva's coastal bay and ocean waters. It's interesting to note each season how the trends in boats and boating continues to change over the years. I can remember when a 25' Mako with twin 125hp Johnson outboards was considered a "big" center console, there were "zero" bay fishing head boats, jet skis, kayaks, or parasail boats, and every day the upper bay was covered with Hobie Cats and Sunfish sailboats. Times have changed!

Like lawn darts and bell bottom jeans, for one reason or another boating trends come and go, and whenever something seems to be all the rage there are always a lot of folks standing on the sidelines trying to figure out why it's so, and I'm not ashamed to say that I’m one of them. I've spent most of my life working on and around boats and there has always been, and always will be, trendy things in boating that I just don't understand. But before I roll out my short-list of some of the latest trends, let me make clear that I am "not" suggesting that there is anything wrong with these trends, it's just that, by my own ignorance, I don't "understand" why they have recently become so popular.

Take kayaks for instance. It seems to me the greatest thing about modern kayaks is that they are relatively inexpensive, light, easy to transport, store, and can be launched anywhere providing quick and easy access to waters not accessible by conventional boats. Kayaks have opened so many great opportunities for people of all ages to fish and explore waters around the world and it's really cool what folks are doing with them and where. I don't have one, but I think kayaks are awesome!

However, I don't understand why some folks rig their kayaks with so much "stuff" that they hardly end up having a place to sit. Okay, I get it, if you're going to fish you'll need rod holders, a place to keep bait, tackle and supplies, but apparently some kayakers feel the need to also have depth sounders, trolling motors, batteries, gas motors (I have a friend who has a 3hp on his) 1 or 2 outriggers, sails, umbrella-like sun shade things, and special brackets for holding their phones, GoPros, and drinks. Anyway, I've always wondered why, rather than overstuffing a kayak, folks don't just get a canoe or a small jon boat that they can still paddle if they wish, but is better suited for carrying the extra gear and accessories some seem to think they need. A little car top boat could also allow for an extra passenger or two and they wouldn't have to worry about sitting in a puddle of water all day.

Something else I don't understand is the recent trend in putting giant outboard motors on deck boats. Deck boats (or "pontoon boats") have been around for a long time and for a lot of people are the perfect platform for taking friends and family out and about our coastal bays. Fishing, clamming, crabbing, exploring, tubing and just about anything else a small group might wish to do on the water can be safely done from a simple and affordable deck boat. That is until you rig one with a 200-300 horsepower motor that scoots across the water at 50 mph or more! Sure, you can still do all those things from your supercharged platform, but the safety factor is greatly reduced in a family boat that can run at those speeds. After all, hitting shallow water at 25 mph is one thing - doing it at 50 can be deadly, and who needs to travel at that kind of speed just to get to the clamming grounds or sandbar party anyway?

Speaking of sandbar parties…… I don't get it, I'm sorry but I just don't understand the current trend where people get in their boats and spend a big chunk of their day hanging out on a crowded sandbar jammed with boats and people and all the stuff that goes on when you squeeze too many people (and alcohol) in too small a space. For me, boats have always been my own escape pods from the craziness of living in a resort environment. There are so many secluded places on the bay where someone can pull their boat up on a beach or sandbar and have it all to themselves without worrying about what anyone else is wearing, drinking, cooking, throwing, saying, driving or blasting their stereo. I know it's just me, but I just don't get the magic of getting in a boat and running towards the crowd instead of away from it!

Finally, it used to be that about the only boats that would do 50+ mph on the ocean were the big, loud, ocean racer type boats featuring twin hopped-up, gas guzzling I/O’s blasting out a gazillion horsepower. Now, at least on calm days, those kinds of speeds are being reached by the latest trend in big center console fishing boats being pushed along by 3-4 (or more) giant outboards. Not just big and fast, these boats are wonders of modern technology featuring most, if not all, of the same array of electronic fish finding and navigational electronics as might be found on the big (traditional) sportfishing vessels. This trend in big, go-fast fishing boats has really taken off, and these boats can now be found hanging in lifts in marinas and at private docks all over Delmarva.

“Yes”, I will agree that these boats are bad to the bone and I’m impressed with the technology that allows them to do what they can do. However, the bottom-line is that they are still just big “center console” boats. Which means that when it’s cold, the wind is blowing, spray flying, or the rain is falling, everyone aboard is going to be outside soaking up every bit of it! Traditionally, the discomfort of fishing from a modest size single or twin engine open boat was accepted as the price of admission for getting offshore in a boat that would cost a fraction of what a big twin diesel sport-fisherman with a comfortable cabin would be. But today, these multi engine go-fasts can cost their proud owners every bit as much (and in some cases more) than what they might pay for a traditional sportfisher with a full cabin featuring heat, A/C, staterooms, a galley, salon, etc, etc. So I’m having a real hard time understanding why someone would spend that kind of dough on a boat where the crew will be riding out and back while sitting on beanbag seats and wearing rain gear when they could be inside a comfortable cabin on a plush sofa watching satellite TV!

So all that is just me talking and trying to be upfront and honest about the fact that after all these years of hanging out on and among boats I still don’t really understand anything about what’s going on around me. The boating world always has and always will be moving ahead at warp speed, and just because some of us can’t keep up with it is no reason to believe we need to pull back on the throttles. So now that I’ve probably insulted half the boaters on Delmarva (and pissed-off the rest) I think I’ll take leave of my keyboard, slip on a pair of bell-bottom pants, and get in a quick game of lawn darts. §

Coastal Fisherman Merch
CF Merch



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