The Anonymous Deckhand

An old salt just trying to help people catch fish and have fun!

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February 02, 2013

Too Much Fun

by The Anonymous Deckhand

I didn't really want to bring this up but I can't let it lay any longer. It's the issue of drinking and and getting stoned on boats. Now I don't want anyone to misunderstand me here at all. When I'm not working I like to fish and I will usually have a couple of beers while doing so. I enjoy a glass or two of wine with a good meal, and a cocktail when I'm home and relaxing is appreciated too. In that respect I'm really no different than many of you.

I don't know, maybe it's because I've been doing this for a while. Maybe I just had to clean up the heads one too many times this season after someone puked in them, or in the galley, or below decks on the floor, or even worse in their bunk. It's easy enough to get sick on a boat for some folks, and I have sympathy and respect for anyone who knows they might get sick and goes fishing anyway because they love it that much. It just seems that a few of you really need to think about easing up a little. And it's not just while you're on the boat, it's also before you have even boarded. Seeing and dealing with people who get on the boat "fully loaded" is never a good way to start a trip. The skipper doesn't like it, the crew doesn't like it, and especially on an open party trip, the rest of the passengers don't like it much either.

Sure, we all like to have a little fun. But how much is really too much? There are a lot of tailgate gatherings in the parking lots before trips of all lengths. It's always good to greet old friends in anticipation of a trip and have a cold one or two with them as well. When it gets to the point though that people can't walk down to the boat without falling down and getting hurt, well, that's a bit much. On top of that the thing no one really wants to mention is that drinking in the parking lot isn't even legal. Yeah, we all know the local PD as a rule doesn't do or say much about drinking in public unless things get a little extreme. Lately that has been getting to be the case, particularly during the high part of the season.

When fishing is good and the parking lot is filled, tempers can get a little short and adding too many adult beverages to the mix doesn't help at all. Then there are the broken beer bottles that are seen littering the parking lot and sometimes even the sidewalk after someone commits a major party foul. Not good at all! It's more than just unsightly, it can quickly become a safety issue with all the folks around wearing flip flops or sandals or even bare feet. Yes, using cans instead of bottles would help with this, but we all know that is not the point. The point is that you are getting ready to get on a boat. A moving platform that is travelling on an often unstable surface making staying on your feet difficult at times for even those who haven't touched a drop. On top of that you are also using a lot of sharp objects which don't care if you're just having fun or not. If you make a mistake with them they are unforgiving, and we don't enjoy digging hooks out of you or the other passenger you may have stuck with one.

Yes, most every boat I know of sells beer on board, and some will even let you bring your own or even a bottle. Heck on charter trips, if there is a special request most boats will even stock a desired brand of beer for you! But we also hope that you'll use a little personal restraint in the amount consumed. We can of course cut you off if needed, but we'd rather not unless it is absolutely necessary. To be honest that's because we know that if we mess with your good time you likely won't leave a tip and not want to come back. Even worse, you might have an online fit and tell everyone what a bad time you had on a particular boat and do it's reputation harm for no good reason. Maybe we as crew need to have a little more guts about this, I don't know. I do know that I'm tired of wondering if people are OK to drive home after a trip. I also got really tired of saving people from themselves a long time ago. There have even been incidents of people going over the side at night because they were too drunk to stand on deck. This needs to stop before anyone is lost. It almost happened on a couple of boats this past season. A good time simply isn't worth almost dying over.

Then there are those who need to smoke their "seasick medicine". Some of you just can't seem to get on a boat without it. You appear to think that you're fooling everyone by going in the head for a hit or two, but that old familiar smell is always there afterwards. While we don't appreciate it going on, most of the time little or nothing is said by the crew or the skipper for the same reasons we don't usually say much about the drinking, and because we don't really enjoy stepping on anyone's good time. However we do hear about it from other passengers who don't appreciate it either. As with the excess drinking, this is a "damned if we do and damned if we don't" situation. If we say or do something about it, word gets around and some will have hard feelings about it and not want to fish with us. On the other hand if we do take action, a different crowd will likely feel the same way. We just can't win here at all.

The thing is that there are other considerations regarding smoking weed on the boat. To begin with it is illegal, even more so that drinking in public! Most of you have been fishing enough by now to have heard the "zero tolerance" speeches given before a trip leaves. You're also made aware that although you may have a medical scrip for it from the state, that doesn't mean anything at all to the Coast Guard if a boat is boarded for any reason. On any boats fishing south of the border your medicinal scrip means even less! All the Mexican navy has to do is find your stash and decide that everyone needs to be towed into Ensenada and the skipper or owner could even have their boat confiscated over this! To me, your needing to get stoned while you fish is not worth that kind of trouble at all for anyone concerned! Please leave the weed at home.

If this started to sound like a rant, well maybe it was. But I had to get it off my chest and it needed said anyway. Let's all try to have a little more responsible good time fishing this coming season. It will be a lot more enjoyable all the way around.

Good fishing to you all,

The Anonymous Deckhand

Comments (14)

tsurikichi wrote 6 years ago


I'm not sure what state you're working on the boats but, although not actually looking up the regs here in California .... we usually hear the initial safety speech on even the half-day boats that there is 0 that's zero tolerance for drugs on the boats regarding patron behavior. Skipper's have said that a simple possession on a boat can get the boat impounded if authorities want to do it !!

Folks have been pulled aside on boats I've ridden and told to stop it .... even after one smart adz whipped out his medical 'pass' saying he was legal. Skipper said it was not when other folks are on a boat with no where to go and having to share the same air...... smoke .... whatever !!


wahoodad wrote 6 years ago

Ron, you might think in a perfect world they'd all adhere to that. But with these medical pot cards, many anglers feel it's ok no matter what the zero tolerance speech says.
And once we cross into Mexico, all bets are off.

The Anonymous Deckhand wrote 6 years ago

Hi tsurikichi!

My "state" is "old and haggard"! LOL!

What wahoodad says is unfortunately true. There's a lot of people that think their medical weed scrip gives them the right to smoke it on a fishing boat despite having been told different. It doesn't at all, and they need to understand that. The thing is that the Coast Guard's "Zero Tolerance" policy is Federal and over rides state law. The zero tolerance policy took effect on March 21, 1988. The "talk" has been regularly given on every boat I've worked on since. I'd say that just short of 25 years was plenty of time for everyone in the fishing community to have heard about it by now.

I'm happy to hear from you that at least some skippers are pulling offenders aside and telling them to knock it off. I'd be even happier to hear about a few of them doing what they say they'll do; handing an offender over to the authorities. That would put a stop to most of it pronto!

Again like wahoodad says, Mexico is a whole different ballgame. I for one don't enjoy the thought of possibly being towed to a Mexican port and spending time locked up because someone wouldn't leave the stuff at home.

wahoodad wrote 6 years ago

I wish the captains would do what they say they are going to do in the zero tolerance speech: Have the authorities meet us at the dock and the offending parties taken off in handcuffs.

Lake wrote 6 years ago

Thanks for this post. I'm mostly in agreement with you here except for this line;
"The skipper doesn't like it, the crew doesn't like it, and especially on an open party trip, the rest of the passengers don't like it much either"
The rest of the passengers absolutely hate it. Saying we don't like it much is an understatement. Sometimes on these boards people get completely juvenile with it, bragging and joking about how many Patrons they're knocking down. Have a few beers, your wine or whatever at dinner and later. Just be reasonable about it.
Once again, I appreciate your post.

The Anonymous Deckhand wrote 6 years ago

Thanks Lake! I was trying to be nice about it, but you're right. No one likes it at all.

TunaBoy wrote 6 years ago

You have to be careful when considering which boat to ride. Everyone knows or should know if they have been fishing a lot, that the sponsored boats (no names mentioned) by the various landings have the most regulars. These guys feel entitled. I was bullied and called names on a couple of trips. I got smart and started paying a little extra to go on charters. Have had some weird experiences like a charter of born again Christians but no violence or suffering drunkards.

The Anonymous Deckhand wrote 6 years ago

OOPS, sorry TunaBoy! Looks like I mised this one somehow.
You're absolutely right, considering which boat to ride is important. Most all boats have a following for any number of reasons from catching a lot of fish, to how much a skipper will let them get away with mischief wise. You are also right about charters being a better experience in general than open trips. Crews and even skippers can sometimes be a little lax in taking care of the bullying/name calling stuff, but it should be dealt with. I've also been out with a few church groups. For the most part they were a lot of fun, though many were not very experienced fishermen. But that's what the crew is for, to help people catch fish and have fun. And hey, we can all use a little more praying, especially over fishing! Right? ;)

2amguns wrote 6 years ago

Amen. The drinking gets SERIOUSLY out of hand at times.
I wasw on a Sponsored Vessel out of the S.D Landing s some years back and just one Guy, a Contractor from New York was getting plowed, and I mean, PLOWED daily. He was putting away the Crown Royal by 10:00 am.
Sadly he crossed the physical realm and was punched in the mouth before the crew ever reined him in even after 5 solid days of requests and warnings.
The most astonishing aspect of that entire ordeal was the two Boat owners greeting to boat upon arrival back home and fawning all over this guy to keep his business.
On the other hand, there are those who do think that the Weed is perfectly fine and that nobody will smell it on the boat.
Come on Boat Crews......have these people arrested instantly upon arrival. I for one, do not need some waste case getting the entire load of passengers taken into custody in Mexico because they can't do with out their weed.
Crack down and get a spine. WE will back you up.

The Anonymous Deckhand wrote 6 years ago

wahoodad - I've often felt the same way. It seems like it's always the same bozos who ruin it for everyone else too!

The Anonymous Deckhand wrote 6 years ago

2amguns, I've seen it happen and it's never a good thing for anyone involved. I've seen people who could drink like fish all day long and still maintain, fish well, and not be a bother to others. But they are few and far between.
What really gets me is why anyone would want someone like that to come back at all. You know they'll do the same thing again and just make another boat load of people upset. I wish they would weigh that against not getting return business from the other passengers because that one guy they want back is a loud mouth drunk or a dope smoking loadie! You would think that gaining a rep for not putting up with that sort of thing would gain more repeat business.

sactotuna wrote 6 years ago

Just saw this blog and want to say RIGHT ON!!
In fact, maybe it doesn't go far enough.

The Anonymous Deckhand wrote 6 years ago

Thanks sactotuna! Over the years I've seen this conversation on many fishing sites. It looks to me like the majority agrees that having a good time is OK so long as it isn't causing everyone or anyone else a problem. (AND so long as it is with LEGAL substances!) But it never ceases to amaze me just how many people seem to believe that they have some kind of a sacred right to do as they please and be damned to everyone else. That they come right out and say so publicly is almost frightening at times!

Jerryjig wrote 5 years ago

Lots of wisdom and good info. In 65 years of fishing in so cal I have seen most of it . I loved seeing dads with kids on half day boats. The crews were almost always helpful. Half day trips were ideal for new anglers. And a few old ones!

One can go to a Dodger game and find bad apples too. It is just life.. Keep it up Deckie!

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