Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Fog

In the summer of 1981 I spent a lot of time fishing for Salmon (Coho and King) on Lake Michigan. The “Captain” had an annual fishing contest with a friend nicknamed “The Moose”. The Moose had the advantage because he owned a “Stink Pot” and could get out to “The Happy Fishing Grounds” faster than we could.

Salmon like cold water, so as the water warmed the Salmon would go farther out and deeper into Lake Michigan.

Fishing for Salmon requires down riggers. We were one of the few sailboats that were set up for Salmon fishing in Lake Michigan. In fact, the Charter Boats would mention our location on their VHF’s (The Green Sailboat). We listened to our VHF to see where
the Charter Boats were fishing. These captains would guarantee their clientèle a fish. And they had a very good idea where those fish would be.

It was late June 1981 and we were in a dead heat with the Moose. The Captain decided that we should go out to mid-lake. We motored out of Burnham Park Harbor before 0700 hours, and were in the “Happy Fishing Grounds” 90 minutes later.

At this time a fog had come over the Lake. The visibility was about 20 feet. We were dead center of the Lake, about 30 miles off shore. This area of the Lake is well known for its Barge traffic. Most of them coming down from Minnesota and Lake Superior and going to the mills in Indiana.

All of a sudden we heard the loud blast of a foghorn. We could not determine the direction from which it came. The “Captain” assured us that the ship would have radar and knew exactly where we were. This was of little solace as we did not know where she was and could not determine which direction the sound was coming from. We lie hove to and prayed that this ship wasn’t heading directly at us.

We attempted to reach them on the VHF with no success. At this point we were metaphorically shitting in our pants. We were also consuming beer in mass quantities. After 30 minutes the horn seemed more distant. We were safe and headed back towards the harbor.

The following year the Captain bought a Radar Unit for the Valiant to prevent a re-occurrence of this event.

The Beach Bum

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you had been fishing with the Admiral, you would have known where you were. You didn't say how many of the denizens of the deep you corraled that day.

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