Tuesday, August 14 , 2018, 9:13 pm | Fair 72º


Captain’s Log: Partially Submerged Prop Busters Threaten Boater Safety

The effects of the mudslides and that heavy rain include dangers to boaters, both in terms of boat damage and personal injury.

“Deadheads” are waiting to ambush unsuspecting boaters.

It sounds like this could be the teaser line for a horror movie, and if you are crossing the shipping lanes ahead of a huge container ship when you encounter a deadhead, it could rapidly become your worst nightmare.

Deadheads are partially submerged logs or other semi-floating debris suspended just below the surface.

The primary objective of a deadhead is to destroy propellers. Many a boat has limped into harbor over the past few weeks, since the heavy rains washed mud, wood and an unbelievable variety of debris into the ocean.

Boaters who were able to limp back to harbor were the lucky ones. Others had to be towed in after their props were destroyed or their outdrives were busted.

There are plenty of good reasons to want to cross the Channel. We have lots of calm glassy-flat days during the winter. Calico bass fishing can be great at Santa Cruz Island.

There are plenty of squid around the islands, especially on the backside of Santa Cruz and the backside of Santa Rosa. Watch for squid seiners or light boats and use your fish-finder to look for squid marks in the same general area.  

It is often possible to jig up some live squid, even during the daytime, to use for bait or take home to clean and eat. Armed with live squid, white seabass fishing can be fast and furious. Catch the live squid and put them back down as bait in the same spot.

On the way to the islands and on the way back, watch diligently for driftwood by keeping a focused watch posted. The worst spots are along meandering current breaks where debris accumulates.

The floating driftwood is the easy stuff to detour around because it is visible. The submerged deadheads are often impossible to spot. So travel only during daylight hours, run the boat at slow speeds and keep one eye trained on the waters ahead.

It is amazing what ends up in the ocean.

I slowly and carefully maneuvered around an upright piece of neatly trimmed wood sticking about a foot out of the water, years ago. As I went by, I looked down in the water and shook my head as I realized it was the top piece of a large and ornate staircase.

The sea holds many surprises and at that point, I might not have been surprised to see a mermaid sitting on the stairs smiling at me.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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