Back-up the Back-ups

Whew – sitting here at the keyboard is a nice break from gear-packing. I’m joining a buddy on his boat tomorrow to troll for yellowfin and mahi 40 to 50 miles off the coast, and since his boat isn’t fully equipped for offshore fishing, I have a lot of stuff to pack up. Needless to say, don’t expect a new blog post tomorrow – we fully intend on fishing from sunrise to sunset, since this could be the last offshore trip out of OC for the season. While packing my carry-on electronics bag (handheld GPS – check; handheld VHF – check; SPOT ...

23rd September 2009.
By Lenny Rudow

Whew – sitting here at the keyboard is a nice break from gear-packing. I’m joining a buddy on his boat tomorrow to troll for yellowfin and mahi 40 to 50 miles off the coast, and since his boat isn’t fully equipped for offshore fishing, I have a lot of stuff to pack up. Needless to say, don’t expect a new blog post tomorrow – we fully intend on fishing from sunrise to sunset, since this could be the last offshore trip out of OC for the season.

While packing my carry-on electronics bag (handheld GPS – check; handheld VHF – check; SPOT satellite messanger – check; gyro-binocs – check; digital camera – check;) I fished through my spare battery compartment and discovered I had only two extra AA’s onboard. Oh, the horror! There should be at least eight new batteries in there at any given time, and half must be from a different package. Why? Let me tell you a little story….

About seven years ago I had a crew of four out with me on one of the Boating Magazine Project boats, tuna fishing at the Hot Dog, 42 miles offshore. It was a banner morning, one of the best in my entire fishing history. From sunrise to 9:00 we had fish on the line, including two quadruple hook-ups. Mixed yellowfin and bluefin were so thick around the boat that fish exploded on chunks tossed over the side before they could sink a foot, and several times we were soaked by the blow-ups. “Intense” barely begins to describe it.

We loaded the fishbox, and by my estimation put between 500 and 550 pounds of fish on the boat before calling it quits. Unfortunately, as I soon learned the manufacturer of this particular boat had failed to put anti-siphon loops into the bilge pump lines. As the boat became weighted down with fish, the pump’s outlets dipped below the water’s surface and began back-filling the bilges. Before I had ID’d the problem, water rose over the batteries and fried our entire electronics system.

After plugging the pump outlets and bailing for an hour we were ready to start running for the inlet. I pulled my handheld GPS out of the portable electronics bag, pressed “On,”  and nothing happened. Yep, the batteries were dead.

“No worries,” I told the crew as I opened up a brand new package of AA’s. But for some reason – maybe they sat on a store shelf too long, or couldn’t take the moisture or heat – they had barely enough juice to get the GPS up and running, and died in moments.

“Don’t freak out just yet,” I said, as I reached for my package of back-ups to the back-up batteries. Luckily, these power cells worked as advertised and we cruised home without any further issues. The moral of the story: Sometimes batteries are dead when you pull them out of the wrapper, so don’t bet your ass on a single package. Always carry seperate back-ups, and just to be sure you don’t get two bad packages from the same bad batch, buy them in different stores. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some more packing to do!


About the author:

Lenny Rudow

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Lenny Rudow is Senior Editor for Dominion Marine Media, including boats.com and YachtWorld.com. With over two decades of experience in marine journalism, he has contributed to publications including Boating Magazine, Marlin Magazine, Boating World, Saltwater Sportsman, Texas Fish & Game, and many others. Lenny is a graduate of the Westlawn School of Yacht Design, and he has won numerous BWI and OWAA writing awards.
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