04: The Skipper

Between The Lines - Ch 07: The Team

 

SkeetaPeteThe skipper's role encompasses many aspects and is an important part of the team. However, some of the skipper's tasks are independent of the team as it is where the greatest responsibility lies.

The skipper's primary role is that of safety officer. In many parts of the world, this is covered by government legislation. It is up to the skipper to ensure the boat is in a seaworthy condition and all necessary safety gear is not only accessible and in good condition but that he or she knows how to use it. It is also the skipper's responsibility to ensure all members of the team also have this knowledge including where the gear is stored, in case of an emergency.

A basic knowledge of all the working parts of the boat such as engines, pumps and wiring is also part of the job.

There are many safety courses run for professional skipper's tickets which can, and should be completed by anyone who will be in control of a vessel and responsible for the wellbeing of other team members and passengers in their care.

There is no reason why any of the team should be exempt from this knowledge and all members of a fishing team would benefit from the knowledge of a basic First Aid course.

As with the other aspects of game and sportfishing where it is important, we undergo various training exercises before we head out, it is also important to run through a safety drill, taking into account various possible emergency situations you may encounter, such as fire, vessel breaching in the hull amongst others. It is up to the skipper to ensure that anyone who comes aboard has the safety procedure explained and is understood.

The better a skipper understands how to use the electronics on board, the better he or she will be able to apply relevant information from it. The skipper should go through the manuals of everything that is set up on the vessel. Often there are features to aid in finding fish that are not obvious on the control knobs and buttons or primary menus.

Taking the boat to where the fish are is certainly the skipper's job as is working the grounds. Although using electronics does assist, it is the skipper's eyes that will account for the greatest success when trolling lures. Good eyes and the ability to spot the often tiny signs that show the possible presence of fish is an ability that improves with experience. This is a job for the whole team, the more eyes looking for the signs the greater the chances of finding and catching fish.

Once a fish is hooked the skipper becomes the choreographer, as it is the way he drives the boat that sets the beat in reaction to the fish's antics and the angler and crew's ability.

As with all the other positions in the team, a skipper's satisfaction grows with every trip as he or she continually learns more about the moods of the ocean and its inhabitants. The skipper also forms a growing bond with other team members and the boat.

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