Talk About Trouble ...

 

And, the worse part is that TROUBLE comes in threes!

Two Mondays ago, we ran a Half-Day Inshore trip for the Cremona family.  Great kids, lovely parents.  OK, Mr. Cremona is a lawyer but he was a very nice guy regardless.  

We went to Little Egg Reef and everyone worked hard.  They caught at least one of every imaginable fish you can think of but none of the Fluke or Sea Bass were long enough to keep or to eat.  How about catching four 12.25" Sea Bass.  The kids were happy anyway.

When things slowed on the Reef, we went back in the Inlet and worked the areas where we had had some success catching keeper Fluke.  Not that day.  More shorts.

The following day looked bad from a weather standpoint and the party scheduled for Tuesday switched off to Friday.  We took the opportunity to do some maintenance and found a weak Bendix on the starboard main engine starter that needed attention.  The local starter shop said they could rebuild the starter for me to pick up Thursday morning.  I'm sure you can fill in the rest of the story but very early Thursday morning, the repair shop said a part had not arrived and that they not would have the unit ready for pick up until Friday morning.  I immediately left a voicemail for Friday's party telling that we would be unable to run their trip on Friday.  A few days later, it was evident that those folks were not happy.

The starter was ready on Friday and it has been reinstalled.

We had not booked trips for this week since I had appointments in my regular business to take care of. That was even not to be!

Monday morning, I arrived back at my office about 10:15 or so after my first appointment.  None of my staff was in the building since a few were on vacation and another was attending a seminar.  So I parked right in front and I thought that I was tight to the sidewalk.  However, when I slid out of the Suburban, I quickly found I was over a foot away from the sidewalk and my left foot landed on the macadam with its toe tight to the curb of the sidewalk.  Momentum did its thing and I found my face quickly heading for the very rough concrete sidewalk.  Where is a nice teak deck when you need it?  I landed on the backs of my hands, my elbows, knees and my face.  I was wearing a very heavy pair of sunglasses and I'm lucky that I was.  While I have the black marks on my face in the shape of the frame of the sunglasses, the glasses themselves did not break but they got planed off by the rough concrete.  That planing would have been on my face had I not had the glasses on.

So now I am on the sidewalk bleeding like a stuck pig and was having trouble getting back on my feet.

But there are heroes in this world.  A lady, her mother and her toddler had been driving on the other side of the divided highway my office is on and they saw me trip.  They u-turned and came back to see if I needed help.  The amount of blood was unbelievable and they could not get a good grip and neither could I.  They called 911 and the local police was there in about 2 minutes with the local EMT rig a minute later.  With these people who were trained to help people to their feet, I was vertical in about 5 seconds.  But the EMTs on the rig insisted that they take me to the local Emergecy Room to get checked out since I had bounced my head on the sidewalk.

So off we went to Virtua Marlton.  I got to spend about 9 hours there while they ran every test under the sun.  They wanted to keep me overnight but I didn't buy that one.  I could lie in bed at home as easy as lying there.  I had to call a cab to take me back to get my truck so I could go home.  But, no, the story does not end there.  When I got home, my ring of keys was not in my pocket.  Just lovely.

So I called the police department, the First Aid Squad, the cab company and Virtua Marlton.  Everyone said they did not have my keys.  Our hidden key was not where it was supposed to be (we have a family elf who constantly moves things without notice) but June finally answered the phone in Beach Haven and told me where she (who we think is the family elf) had moved the hide key to.  And ... it was there.  Great.

I worked from home Tuesday morning since I can access the office computers from anywhere.  Late Tuesday morning I got a phone call from the senior EMT who took me to Virtua.  Kim is a very skilled person who happened to have graduated from high school with my daughter.  She said that they had just taken another patient to Virtua Marlton and she spent some time talking to people who had been working on the floor the day before.  They all said they had not seen any keys.  The keys have vinyl colored rings on them so they do stand out.  Kim found out where I had been the day before and walked down that hall.

She came to the place where I had been parked and, there on the floor under the now empty gurney was my key ring.  Great looking, Virtua!

Tomorrow we don't have a trip scheduled but I am interviewing a possible new Mate.  Our Offshore Mate works for the State of New Jersey and his work schedule has been constantly changing after major riffs in his department due to their lowered budgets, etc. Mate Tim has personal needs that required a full time job all summer that has cut down his availability.  He's a great guy so his absence is felt.  

Our Junior Mates assigned to us by the local Charter Boat Association the last few years have been major disappointments.  Most do not know their basic skills and refuse to learn them.  Talk about teenager attitudes.  The people now running the Association have set no standards and impose no discipline so the kids can do what they want.  Last year, one Junior Mate was so bad that I told him to come for a tutoring class the following Saturday.  He showed up on time, without most of his Mate tools as per his usual, but with his father, who, I supposed, had been told what a PITA I had been to the kid.  I then spent 3 hours patiently teaching both father and son basic stuff I had taught the kid multiple times before but he had never practiced on his own as required.  At the end of this day's training, I made the kid promise to practice and made him shake hands on that before they left.

As they packed up getting ready to leave, the father took me aside and told me that "I see what you are doing and I am totally on board.  I will help in any way I can."  Boy, that sounded good.  The boy was nice, he was reasonably polite, but he just wanted to be in charge.  Sorry. kid, that job is filled.

The kid had accepted a trip as First Mate early the following week.  Monday or Tuesday, I forget.  We normally leave the dock at 6:30 to go pick up our party of the day.  At 6 a.m., there was no Mate doing the trip prep.  I called his cell and his phone went straight to voicemail the way cell phones do when they are turned off.  That wasn't good.  I called a friend and he agreed to mate the trip.  He came right over and we left the dock about 15 minutes late.  So much for learning "responsibility."

We picked up the party and went and fished a nice day.  Back at the Yacht Club that afternoon, the fill-in Mate was cleaning the fish, I was fueling the boat, and watched another Association Member boat pass by.

I looked in its cockpit and there was that Captain's regular Mate plus THREE Junior Mates including, guess who, my missing Junior Mate wearing a June Bug T-Shirt, no less.  I terminated him by e-mail that afternoon and reported the entire incident to the Association Officers, who, to this day, have never responded nor acted to throw the miscreant out of the Junior Mate Program.

Not only that, this kid was allowed to rejoin the Junior Mate Program again this year.  And his assigned Captain this season terminated him again with no action by the Officers of the Association.  They deserve what they get.

So Mate Tim and I are seriously thinking about setting up our own teenager training program, to be known as the June Bug Apprentice Program, that will have standards, rules and discipline.  If we start this, we will likely only accept 2 or 3 kids, boys and/or girls, at a time and they will receive intense hands on training and will be required to practice so that they minimize the time it takes for them to become proficient.  At any time, a member Apprentice will be called upon to demonstrate various skills and they will need to be ready to successfully demonstrate the skill requested on their first try.  Three failures to perform will be a major reason for Program Termination.  

There will be no charge for this Program but accepted kids will be expected to work on their own well before the season starts to get 2-year First Aid and CPR Certifications.  All accepted kids will also apply for and acquire their approved participation in the American Professional Captains Association (APCA) Random Drug Test Program.  Accepted teenagers will receive two navy June Bug t-shirts to denote them as part of the June Bug team.  Prior to starting the formal Program, accepted kids will be required to become proficient in the basic assigned knots, wraps and hitches.

Scheduling will be irregular due to the routine for booking fishing charters goes according to the customer's desires as well as for me to run my regular business so member Apprentices should be living reasonably local to be able to get to the training location on that irregular schedule

People will ask how long it will take for their teenager to get qualified to work as a paid First Mate on Inshore fishing charters I consider them qualified to Mate.  I would tell anyone that some kids are ready by the end of the first year in the Program.  Others are not ready by the end of their third year in the Program. Unlike the other Program in town, however, we will not string kids along.

We will have a controlled number of kids to train and they either perform or we will suggest they find something else to do.

Snowflakes do not need to apply.  We want rugged, smart, interested, focused and excited kids who are willing to dive in and get the tasks done, done correctly and done well.  We will recruit kids, even 13 year olds but not younger, who fill the bill.  They may not have hit their growth spurt but if they are REALLY into the sport and want to learn the really good ways of fishing successfully, we have had some outstanding 13 year olds.  A 17 year old, a kid who thinks he will be a "cool dude" if he gets in this Program, is not welcome.  We will be looking for a couple of kids who are really adults but don't know it as yet.  The keywords will be that a kid is responsible, timely, keeps good records, is interested in lots of things, has very good grades in school, is or has been an athlete in his or her middle school or high school, loves math and science, wants to become really skilled in fishing details, and, most importantly, wants to be an important and valued part of the June Bug Team moving all the way up to gaining, first, their Certifications as an Inshore & Offshore Mate, and then moving to gaining their own Captain's License which they can get as early as their 18th birthday.

I designed and founded the other Junior Mate Training Program in town.  I was in charge of it from 2003 until 2014.  There was nominal participation from other Charter Association Members.  I cannot tell you how many letters and e-mails that I received from parents telling me the value that program provided to their children.  One letter was from a father who is now has become one of the Captains who is purportedly in charge of the Program.  I value those messages dearly.  Especially his.  That Program has been extremely successful until about 3 years ago. That's when there was a change in management that has provided no support for the standards and disclipline that had been established.  The people changed and not for the good of the program.  Half of the Junior Mates in the existing Program are not even assigned to Member Captains.  How, exactly, are those kids going to receive their On the Job Training?  Exactly who is in charge of determining that a Junior Mate is Qualified for anything?  Their Junior Mate Committee was appointed, I was to be part of that, but was never activated and when Association Officers are queried about this, they simply do not respond.  Their Program is on Automatic and, worse,  someone took their foot off the gas.

Since I have only the one boat and limited people capable of helping with the required training, we will limit participation in the June Bug Program to only 2 or 3 TOTAL Apprentices at a time.  A new Apprentice will not be accepted in the Apprenticeship Program until an existing Apprentice is either Certified as a Qualified Inshore Mate and moves up or who is terminated for performance reasons opening up a participation slot.  Below average and marginal participants will not continue past the point that their below expectation performance has been determined.

One of the most interesting activities for teenagers in training is to participate in charter trips with parties on board.  One of the problems over the last 10 years has been the devastating recession, an economic event that has yet to fully end.  However, in 2017, charter trips have rebounded but only on the lower end of the cost scale, Half-Day Inshore trips.  People still do not seem to have the discretionary funds available to move their fishing trips up the cost scale.  At least we have more trips to acclimate our teenagers in training. But there are other limits.  Because boat insurance has become so expensive and restrictive since Hurricane Sandy, when I, as the Owner, am the Captain on board running a charter trip, I will be able to take a First Mate and one Apprentice.  If a paid Captain is in charge, only the paid Captain and the First Mate can go on the trip since our insurance only covers two crewmembers not counting an Owner who is on board as Captain.  To add one additional crewmember onto the Policy would cost over $500 so that is cost prohibitive.  We have yet to find a way to either lower or to avoid that cost for additional crew.

There are situations when Teamembers in training can participate in activities outside of our local Beach Haven area.  If Apprentices apply to participate in any suich activities, their parents will be expected to cover theui net expenses that that activity.  At times, parents themselves may be able to also participate. Here's an example.  Normally, in December, June Bug is moved to North Carolina and spends her winters in her slip in Manteo, NC, returning to New Jersey the following May.  She gets her annual maintenance at boatyards in the area and I do make visits down there while that work is going on.  I always welcome company on those trips.  However, once March comes, if the maintenance work has been completed, we start fishing in the Gulf Stream so we not only want to have a trained crew we'd love to have additional people who want to crank in the fish and generally participate in what have been very enjoyable trips.  

Fishing off Oregon Inlet starting the middle of March is world-class and should be experienced.  On these trips, costs are split between the participants.  These trips also give parents of our younger crew the pleasure of watching their kids use their new skills doing what they love to do ... find and catch fish!

If you know a teenager, boy or girl, who you think would qualify and satisfy the Participation critieria, please call me at 609-685-2839 to thoroughly discuss this opportunity.  If we end up agreeing that the person likely is a candidate, I will e-mail you the formal Application that will require the teenager to complete it (not the Parent although the Parent will need to co-sign the completed Application and also sign a Blanket Release). The Applicant Teenager would also supply a thorough fishing resume.  After a thorough review of the Application, if we think the Applicant is indeed qualified, the Applicant will be invited in for a formal interview.

Life ain't perfect but everyone is expected to do their part and to handle their responsibilities.

 

Captain Lindsay Fuller

June Bug Sportfishing

Beach Haven, NJ

609-685-2839

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