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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
While fishing out by the CR buoy yesterday, I saw two open guide boats in the 22-26 foot range with full crews of passengers. Yesterday was a marginal ocean for an open boat with 4-5 foot seas and 3 foot wind waves. Although the ocean report said the frequency was 12 seconds, it looked a lot closer to 8 seconds - it wasn't dangerous in the proper boat, just uncomfortable.

I mentioned this to a friend of mine and we talked about how every year we see lots of open guide style boats out in the ocean and he claimed that most of them don't have charter licenses (the way I understand it, you can buy a guide license and take the test, but you have to get a charter license from someone else who has one and you need a charter license to take paying clients in the ocean). My friend claims that the coastguard just doesn't enforce this rule.

I have nothing against guides or open boat owners, I'm just posting this as I know there are lots of folks here who take guided fishing trips and I'd like to see them return to port safely. I believe it's only a matter of time until we see a major tragedy with one of these open sleds getting swamped on the ocean. It might not be this summer, but maybe next summer or the summer after. Many of you will recall that we had a similar tragedy with tuna tower Ted down at Garibaldi. He was in an open sled, but his accident was not because he had an open boat - he flipped it over backwards going up a huge wave. The tragedy I think will happen is an open boat taking a wave over the bow and swamping it.

I'd strongly encourage anyone who is considering a "guided" trip to fish for silvers that they do it on a licensed charter boat and preferably a large one if fishing off the mouth of the Columbia. Yesterday was what I would consider "safe" in my boat (23' Northriver Seahawk) and we took a breaking wave over the bow in some wierd slop that would have sunk an open boat. I'm not trying to be critical of guys who have open sleds and take them in the ocean - I'm just hoping that maybe someone will think twice before getting on one of these open guide boats for an ocean trip. In addition to the danger, the people I saw out there yesterday looked pretty cold, wet, scared and miserable. Not a fun way to spend your money.

I was encouraged to see many more people wearing PFD's yesterday, perhaps because of the Taki Too incident. Let's hope and pray that we have a safe remainder of the summer.
 

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Most all of those guys have 6-pack licenses and yes they can go in the Ocean legally. There is a limit on the range offshore though, don't remember the distance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm glad to hear that, Mel. Regardless of whether it's legal, I still think people should think twice before getting on one of those open boats for an ocean trip. There are plenty of days where it's perfectly safe, but all it takes is one rough day (or one big breaker) and I guarantee we're going to lose one of those boats and probably some lives along with it.
 

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Of course you are refering to Andy Bitner and Jody Mathers. They were out there Sunday as well. Those are very big open sleds with lots of freeboard. On Sunday it was interesting to see that their crews were wearing life vests. I was glad to see that. Were they doing the same the day you were out? BTW, they are licensed and equiped per the regulations.

I'd be more worried about the dudes out there in an 18' sled with a beer in hand and a rod in the other going around in circles fighting fish without a life vest in the same conditions you mentioned.

Use your head people. Be safe and pick your days.
 

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One other thing to consider, I believe Jody spent about 10 years at Astoria on a motor life boat when he was in the Coast Guard. I think he knows what the columbia/ocean has to offer by now and would trust his judgement.

I know some people here don't have the highest opinion of Jody. But I fished with him once and have run into him a couple of times out on the water and he's been nice enough of a guy. On our trip we hooked several native steel and none of them were mistreated. Only out of the water for a few secs and a quick pic.

 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Actually I know both Jody's and Andy's boats and these two boats I saw were much smaller with much less freeboard. I'm sure these guys have every intention of keeping their clients safe, but my point is if you're just going out to fish for silvers, why not board a 45 footer with an enclosed cabin instead of risking it in a boat that will fill up with one good wave breaking over the bow.
 

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I commercial fished (set netted) in cook inlet out of open flatbottom skiffs. They do have high sides though. I have been in some 8 foot swells in an open boat and as long as the operator is knowledgable, then there isn't anything to worry about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
WRO - and my grandpa used to cross the CR bar in a 12 foot glass skiff all the time - just because it's been done doesn't mean it's safe. Being knowledgeable certainly helps, but having enough knowledge to take the right type of boat in the ocean is what I'd look for when paying someone to keep me alive on an ocean trip. Then again, the folks on the Taki Too probably thought they had "nothing to worry about" also.

I just think the odds are stacked against those guys in the open sleds - if they want to kill themselves, fine with me, but I've got a problem if they take their crew down with them. I just don't remember seeing those big open sleds out on the ocean 5 years ago and the last few years there's been lots of them out there.
 

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Killertraylor, I know what you are saying. I guess people do the guide thing so they can get more of a hands-on experience than with a charter. Personally, I'd rather be on a large charter, but like also stated the people on the Taki Tooo probably thought they were safe.

Good to hear the guides starting to wear the life jackets. I just never have understood why people would pay money to ride in an open sled and get soaked to death for $150 or whatever it is. There are some guides I know that have nice big boats with windshields and would be a lot more confortable in my opinion. I have fished out of a big open boat like those before and there is a lot of room because of no windshield, but it doesn't take the slightest chop to completely soak you.

BTW, the boat like Jody has looks like a really deep large thing. Does anyone know who makes those boats???
 

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Without the wind, it aint too bad. With the wind, I would just as soon eat pork chops for dinner.

A Dory if a fairly open boat, but the freeboard in one is usually a good foot higher that sleds( not that would help if one crashed on ya, but sometimes more is better). And dories have fished the ocean forever.

I agree that it is a matter of time before we read about a guide style sled going down out there. Hope I am wrong, but it stands to reason.

Mark and the careful and still alive dog.
 

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Killertraylor,

I've gone out the inlet in the open guide boats, 23-25'. Always wearing lifejackets . Five (2 kids, three adults in the 23') and six in the 25 which has 36" sides.

They seem OK even in the rollers at Tillamook even when it got so bad that the CG came out to tell us all to go back in. We never took water over the bow or, more importantly to me, the transom.

Breaking waves are the big danger in which case it's head for the barn before that even begins to happen.

Life jackets, prudence and experienced operator are the keys.

I used to regularly go out 20 miles in my Whaler 17' but that boat is unsinkable, keeps the power head up even when swamped.

Brion
 

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You won't see my open sled out there. Why pay a guide $150 when you can take a charter for $80 or $90? I'll wait until those little cohos come inside and then I'll get em. They'll be bigger then anyway. I talked on another thread about open sleds in big blue and the consensus was no. I think someone put it well, "I would rather be hit in the head with a hammer." I love the ocean and wish I had a boat to fish out there but I'll either trade a trip or go on a charter boat.
 
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All liscenced guides should have a six pac liscence to be guiding out of a motorized boat, however you must get a "unlimited master of open waters in uninspected vessel" endorsment in addition to the six pac liscence to run guided trips in the ocean. At that point you are allowed to take paying passengers offshore fishing. There is a limit on number of passengers and the distance offshore one can operate. This liscence is not easily obtained as one must study extensively and have logged several hours in the last year to be eligible. The guys who get these liscences are the vary professional saftey concious people who have spent the time doing things the right way. Any large open sled is pretty much as safe as any inboard sled, most have vary tall sides and transoms so swamping usually occurs when one should not be out in the first place. I personally have gone out of Depot bay several times silver fishing and have not had incident, also see sevral 10 to14 foot aluminium lake boats out there over several years. You just have to be safe and concious. Most of your open sleds are vary safe outside the bar in the conditions most of us fish in. I deckhanded for a charter and I can tell you that there is no real surge in the amount of open boats outside they have been out there for years.

Rags - Why pay a guide $150.00 instead of paying $80.00 for a charter. Well Most guides are out there working hard for you all day to get you fish and they give you personall attention so you learn more. On a charter your out for about 6 hours and you just reel em in, it's not the same expierence a guide can and will give you. When you figure the cost of a 6 hour charter at $80.00 vs. a 10 hour guided trip for $ 150.00 there is not that much difference in the cost. It's just what you want to expierence.
 

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I for one have a Master Near Coastal License which allows me to go anywhere I choose.

But, I choose to stay inside the jetty and mostly waaay inside with passengers for hire in my boat.

There are times when it would probably be ok for me to be out there, but still...I'd rather not.

To me there is no fish worth dieing for, sure you can get into fish out there and they're usually on the bite. But, I can also get into them inside.

But, safety and a quality experience are my main concerns in my guiding activity.

I'll play it safe and my customers and I can come back another day.

I too, think it's just a matter of time...

I know of a local guide who this spring was fishing 9 miles out in an open sled!

I don't mean to put the guys down that venture out, but to me that big pond is for big boats!

Just my 2cents...nothing more.
-Marty

[ 07-10-2003, 01:52 PM: Message edited by: Gone Fishin ]
 
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I agree most guides keep it inside the bay or just outside the bar most of the time. I was stating that most open sleds are pretty much as safe as any inboard sled if you go out when the conditions are good. Most stay inside the jetties or just outside. If you're venturing out 10, 20, 30 miles or farther it is a great risk as conditions can change quickly and take a boat like these quickly. For those venturing out for the halibut or long range salmon trips I to believe it is a matter of time before one goes down be it inboard or an outboard sled. It's not worth it. But if the conditions are good then I see no problem going outside a short distance to fish, just make sure you play it safe and are able to return quickly to port if needed.
 
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