This is a little long, but necessary to thoroughly get a full understanding of my point.
There are a lot of variables that I manage to make a trip successful. The boat has to work properly, my equipment has to work properly, I have to be on time, the weather and conditions have to be good, I have to know what I’m doing and I have to prepare you for your trip. That brings a set of variables into play that is more difficult for me to prepare for. For you personally, I do have a routine that covers the basics of sun protection, sea sickness prevention and I go over what equipment needs you have or review what equipment you will be bringing. All pretty basic, but this is where things have a perfect record for going wrong. Yes, it is your equipment and a lack of preparation that is the wild card that are among my biggest challenges on any given (lobstering) trip.
Lobstering is the primary subject of this article and August is the opening of regular lobster season. This is the time to properly prepare, because now is the time to catch lobster! I want you to be prepared to pave the way for a fun and successful trip, but history tells a different story. During the booking process of any trip involving you getting into the water I ask if you are bringing your own equipment or would like me to provide equipment for you. I really like my own equipment because I know it fits me, it works well, I understand how to adjust it and I have confidence in it. This is the same logic I presume your equipment functions for you. I go one step further and ask you to pool test it twice before you come out with me. Silicone/rubber is prone to hardening, warping, dry rotting and becoming brittle. So, if due preparation is made, all issues should arise and be addressed before the trip with time to spare. Here is where reality happens and 2 scenarios occur, but have the same outcome. On 100% of my trips, somebody experiences catastrophic equipment failure that has a major impact on the ability to enjoy the trip and perform.
No equipment was checked.
My customers unpack their aged snorkel sets and forgot something broke the last time they used it and it didn’t fix itself. Fins tear or don’t fit as they are being put on. The mask strap is dry rotted and breaks when being put on. The once soft silicone skirt on the mask is petrified from heat cycles and is warped. Snorkels and masks with pressure valves or moving parts are frozen and warped and flood instantly. Something like this happens every trip and I can’t understand why.
My customers show up with the finest brand new snorkel sets $25 can buy at Kmart, never taken out of the package. As they hand this to me, my brain is screaming “Noooooooooooo!!!!!!!!” New is not good. You would never buy a pair of hiking boots without trying them on before a long hike or buy a tent without setting it up to make sure you can do it before a big trip. Here is why new is bad. You get what you pay for. General prices are: Mask $50, Fins $70 and Snorkel $20 for basic good stuff. A new mask needs to be properly cleaned/scrubbed/burned to remove a thin layer of silicone left on the glass lens from the manufacturing process. When not cleaned/prepared properly, this is a constant fogging nightmare and renders the mask practically worthless. The snorkel in a kit is full of the stinky plastic polymer of toxic fumes, so your air supply is poisoned and your headache will be rocking! Just like boots, fins need a break in period. I’ve learned that most people don’t know their foot size and most fins are in general men’s foot sizes with not much to go on as a standard. Your new fins could be any size and are likely made of poor rigid material that will leave you with a multiple blister souvenirs for 2 weeks. This is just a quick review of what I see go wrong every trip with your equipment. These are the problems I am working on before you even get in the water!!
I spend a lot of time communicating with my customers. I am building a relationship with you and also assessing your experience, fears and abilities to make a plan that will work best for your trip. I do a little reading between the lines too! I want you to be happy and comfortable and give you the same trip I would want for myself. Particularly lobstering, is a demanding physical challenge that is so foreign to most people. Everything has to be so right for it to be a trip that everybody is happy with at the end of the day. Everything looks easy on TV when an experienced person is performing a skill. You can watch a NBA basketball game, where an athlete is dunking the ball every 2 minutes, but if you go to the store and buy a ball that has “NBA” on it and think you can dunk because you bought the ball and saw it on tv…well, get ready for a disappointment! Not likely to happen for most people. Your preparation will show on your trip. I see how it unfolds more often than I want for you, the customer, to experience. You literally become your own worst enemy and work against yourself for not being prepared.
My final point of concern is your responsibility to your guests. I am usually dealing with one person in the booking of a trip, but 4,5 or 6 people will be present. You are the agent and representative for your group and must pass this information on so everybody can prepare properly. A communication exercise we did in school would start at one side of the class with a simple sentence and one person would tell the other verbally. By the time it went around to the last person, the meaning was entirely gone. I need you to prepare your guests as I am preparing you. Typically, I only have a few hours with you, so there are likely some hurdles to overcome on most trips. What isn’t possible is for me to overcome is have a group with bad equipment, no idea what they are looking for and no ability to hold their breath underwater and perform skills necessary to catch lobster. This is what we are doing, so we gotta do it! Only you catch the lobster.
I am your guide and Captain. Most people do not listen to me, as that is your choice. I want to prepare you. Somewhere, I would like you to meet me in the middle. Reality is what it is and experience will teach you if I do not. I have all of the ability and willingness to set you up to ace this like a hero. I will take the time to build you into a lobster catching machine. I will be taking you to the places where lobster are, but this is an activity where I can’t make the lobster swim into your nets. Fishing is different, as I can usually find some dumb fish if you’re a little rough around the technique edges of fishing. Lobster live in rock holes underwater and you have to catch them as I watch from above. They are fighting to protect their lives and do not want to be caught!! This is an entirely earned experience. That is what makes this rewarding. Lobstering is not easy for most people. Read between my lines here. Lobstering isn’t for everybody. Not good for spectators counting on 2 people doing all of the work, not good on people with irrational fears, not good for anybody with any sort of physical issues, not good for people with limited snorkeling experience. Lobstering is good for anybody/family that is physically healthy and active, has moderate snorkeling experience and likes a challenge. This is my reality with a little sugar on top to offset some of the scare factor of my words here.
I will take the time to make sure I have done everything right on my end. You do not have to prepare if you have a great breath hold, have good gear that works and know how to catch lobster without issues.
Moving forward, our mini-season will likely go down as record breaking with the amount of people out on the water. Most of my common spots were hit before 9am on the first day. There were too many people out there to sum it up. This means we have to go a little further out, a little deeper and work hard to put together limits. If we work together as a team, put in a solid effort and have little issues, go ahead and melt the butter before you leave the house. The lobster will be there.
Be sure to ask lots of questions and provide me with as much helpful information about your group as possible. Knowledge is power.
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