The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

December 14, 2012

Always better safe than sorry when out fishing in a boat

Tightlines

CORRESPONDENT
Rick Goines

TARBORO — This is a true story as told by David Wynne to Tight Lines about his close call with disaster while fishing alone for Speckled Trout recently on the Neuse River. David is a close friend of my Havelock pal, Jerry Jackson. I have fished with David and know he is an experienced, knowledgeable fisherman that has been fishing and boating in those familiar Neuse River waters and creeks all his life. It is not much of a stretch to call him a local expert. Due to space limitations, I have taken the liberty to edit where necessary.

“I grabbed two rods, a couple of lures, hopped in my buddy's skiff and off I went. While trying to clear some leaves out of the scuppers on the 14-foot skiff, I took my hand off the tiller for an instant. The boat hooked hard to the right, throwing me out of the boat in the middle of the creek, about a mile from my house.

The creek is approximately a half-mile wide, so I had a quarter-mile swim to either side. Dressed for the cool weather, I had on my favorite camo Herter's hunting jacket, wind pants over jeans, and a pair of Topsiders. Naturally I carried my cell phone, in case of an emergency, in my jacket pocket.

When I hit the water, my first reaction was unbelief. Not only was I not wearing a floatation device, but also had not connected the kill-switch lanyard to my person. The water temperature was around 50 degrees, so I knew I needed to get out of the water as soon as possible. I also realized I could not swim with all the clothes I had on, so I shed my jacket and the liner as well as my shoes.

I rolled over on my back and started kicking my feet, headed to shore. I hadn't made it far before the cold water temperature zapped my energy from my legs. I rolled over and started to swim conventionally. This, too, didn't last long as the cool water temperature exhausted my energy and I was still a ways from shore. At this time, I also realized the boat had circled back around and was headed back at me! The boat circled me twice, way too close for comfort, before heading across the creek.

Later I found out it hit two docks and came to rest in a friend’s yard. God bless Bill Maddox! He realized that someone was in the water and climbed in his boat and started searching the creek. By this time, I had been in the water better than 30 minutes, but had made it ashore, only by the grace of God.

Bill spotted me on the shore and he and his neighbor lifted me into his boat and carried me to my house, where I was met by the rescue squad, and transported to the ER, suffering from hypothermia.

I made three serious mistakes on this trip. The first was not wearing the kill switch lanyard for the outboard engine. The second was not wearing a floatation device. The third was taking my hand off the engine's tiller with the boat in gear and traveling at speed. Lessons learned the hard way.”

Rick’s Soapbox: The moral of this story is really rather simple. Common sense and safety should always prevail in every boating situation on the water. If this can happen to a highly experienced, skilled boater and fisherman like David Wynne, it can surely happen to you and me. David wanted me to relate his story so others may benefit from knowledge of his scary, near-fatal experience.

Care to share? Tight Lines welcomes your fish snaps, tall tales, and outrageous lies at CarolinaAngler@Gmail.com.

See you on the water, my friend!