I know there were some sinking hearts in the group, because mine was one of them. I had spent too many years in this sort of situation, knowing full well that the odds of that Easterly wind dropping were on a par with clapping eyeballs on a flying pig, as well the Skipper knew. But there was always the long odds chance that Bracknell had got it right, just once, and that the wind would moderate and the sea would flatten off. I have seen it happen, wind against tide when it can be as rough as rats, an hour later after the tide has turned and the wind has gone with the tide the sea has can sometimes flatten off to millpond standard. So you take your chances every time your group books a charter boat. The trip organiser will check with the Skipper and if he says come on down, you go prepared, or do you??
Truthfully it doesnít matter a fishes tit if you are just going three miles from the shore or punching out thirty miles to a deep sunk wreck. It can be just as rough, just as wet and just as cold three miles off as it can be thirty miles out in the Western Approaches, the only difference is the travelling time.
Years ago the dress of the day was a Pussers(ex MOD) surplus black oilskin and a pair of white trawlermans waders topped off with a knitted woollen bobble cap, boy oh boy how we suffered in the winter.
Today the bright red floatation suits are fabulous garments that will not only keep you dry, warm and comfortable in the most awful conditions, but can also save your life by keeping you afloat should you be unfortunate enough to end up swimming for it. This garment is the most important garment you will ever buy for boat fishing. One piece float suits are priced from £80 up to £150ís for a good quality job. If you are tempted to buy a two piece suit, buy one like the Marinepool where the salopette style trousers are not buoyant, all the buoyancy is in the jacket.
When the suit gets grubby, put it on a hanger outdoors, soak the suit well with fresh water, then gently sponge or scrub the grotty parts with warm soapy water. You will never ever get it back to pristine condition, but you will make the suit last much longer and prevent it from ponging the house out.
Keeping your feet on a wet and slippery deck can sometimes be a difficult job and as one who has slipped and slapped the deck with the best of them I can tell you that a good pair of seaboots with razor cut soles such as those worn by the yotties really are the business. Probably the best value for money sea boots that you can get are the tiddly "Yachting non-slip boots" sold by Veals mail order.
Get a size bigger than you need and then go into an "outdoors shop" and get yourself some good thick walking socks to wear with the boots, cold feet will be a thing of the past I promise you.
The comfort, warmth and peace of mind provided by a float suit and a good pair of seaboots are vitally important to the enjoyment of a day at sea. Everything else, tackle, bait and catching fish are all important, but come second to personal comfort and well being.
From a personal point of view, food, drink and Dramamine tablets are also vital to the enjoyment of a day at sea. Every fishing and camera bag that I own contains a plastic Ziplock bag containing a couple of paracetemol tablets and a strip of Dramamine anti sea-sickness tablets. I make no secret of it, if its rough I take one, if it is rougher still I will take another one. I do not see the point in spending good money for a day out to spend it heaving ground bait over the side. Besides which being seasick is one of the most awful feelings in the world and you are supposed to be enjoying the day!
When it comes to food and drink I have got to say that the sea air makes me hungry, so I make sure that I have enough. If the Skipper brews up every couple of hours, take some pot noodles. All it takes is a splash of hot water and you have a nourishing hot snack which I have got to say is very welcome on a cold day. Donít forget the spoon!
Incidentals like sunglasses are often left at home in the winter, yet the next day when your head is thumping with a headache it is likely that you will put it down to the few pints that you sunk on the way home. What is much more likely is that the bright light bouncing off the waves will have given you the headache. The Yanks realised this years ago and made sunglasses with a mirror layer to reflect away the light in bright conditions. Ocean Waves the glasses are called and are still amongst the best sea going sunglasses obtainable.
If it is in the pits of Winter when brass monkeys wear a woolly pullover, try and keep your hands warm and dry. Take two pairs of gloves. One pair for travelling and the other a fingerless pair for fishing in. Handwarmers such as the charcoal burning or chemical types can be a real luxury and are worth every penny when you are faced with a two or three hour journey home just as the sun has disappeared over the yardarm
Fishing in rough conditions is often a trial and there is nothing to be ashamed of if you feel like having a rest with something to eat and drink.
Bad weather will bring into sharp focus the "come in handy" syndrome when some anglers will take a massive tackle box laden to the brim with tackle, when probably at the end of the day a couple of sinkers, a boom or two, swivels and hooks is all that will have been used. So why take all the rest, all it will do is take up deck space and provide another obstacle to fall over.
Sort your tackle into a rig wallet so that you have traces made up and everything is easily found. It is easy to make up a wallet for different styles of fishing. I have two for shore fishing, one for flatfish, another for wrecking, yet another for reef and bass fishing. Rod and reel, a rig wallet, some sinkers, a spool or two of line, bait, food and drink, wear a floatsuit and thatís it. What else do you need? Some fish might be good!!