Michael Hogan, IFPTE Local 121
I had just purchased a used 25’ Wellcraft Airslot boat powered by a modified Ford 305 engine and an OMC electric shift stern drive. My crew on the maiden voyage, to shake out any bugs, included myself, my wife and my 6-year-old son. We launched at the Hickam Air Force Base boat ramp and headed out of Pearl Harbor.
I put the boat through a series of tests to uncover any problems with the boat, but everything seemed ship-shape. The trolling alleys behind the boat looked great, so I decided to put out two rods and see how well the boat trolled. I positioned an 80 lb. outfit on each side. Then I sent a trolling skirt out on the starboard side and clipped it into the outrigger. While I was deploying a trolling lure on the port side, the rig on the starboard side came out of the clip. None of the lines were off the reel, so I finished setting up the port side. While recipe-ping the starboard side, the port side came out of the clip, but again, no line was taken. I re-clipped the port, wondering what I was doing wrong.
The starboard side came out the clip yet again, but this time line was smoking off the reel. I cleared the port rod and started fighting the fish. I regained about two thirds of the line, but the fish still hadn’t shown itself. Then it took off on another long run, this time going aerial, and that’s when I realized I was battling a large blue marlin on my new boat.
Suddenly, the engine stopped running. I turned to my wife, who was driving, and told her to restart the engine. It wouldn’t start – not a sound. I noticed the battery gauge on zero. I stuck the rod in a holder, opened the engine compartment to switch batteries and found the switch in the “BOTH” position. Both batteries were dead. My wife called the coast guard on her cell phone, while I continued to fight the fish. The coast guard contacted another boat in the area to help us.
The marlin had gone deep. I was retrieving line in small amounts with the rolling of the sea. Finally, I saw color coming from the depths and realized the marlin had expired and was coming in belly up. I had the fish alongside just as the other boat arrived. I managed to haul this behemoth of a fish aboard by myself; I didn’t use a gaff because I assumed the fish was dead.
We took a battery from the other boat and restarted my engine. While we were doing this, my wife announced that the fish was coming back to life. Without looking, I informed her that the fish was dead. The next time she said it with more forcefulness in her voice. I turned and noticed the marlin’s eye and gill plates moving. The last thing I needed was a large marlin going berserk in the boat. I grabbed a stick and subdued the marlin at the exact moment my 6-year-old came out of the cabin where he had been sleeping. The first thing he saw was his dad beating the big fish with a baseball bat – ah memories. We completed repairs, thanked the boat that rendered aid and headed for port. At the scales, the marlin weighed 305 lbs. What a maiden voyage!