Charlie Cinto was never on time; he was usually early. One summer morning he pulled up, early as usual, and in my excitement, I left my coffee, juice, muffin and meds on the counter and we were off to the Promised Land. We had a cow in the cooler before first light which welcomed the beginning of a blazing August morning with nary a breeze. Because casting is my favorite method of fishing my boats do not have the protection of a T-Top. Three hours later, while Charlie was bringing a fish alongside I began to feel fuzzy, lightheaded, and sweaty. I moved the boat out to a deeper location and sat down on the casting platform. I asked Cinto to get me two bottles of water from the cooler. He handed me one and said it was the only one left. I seldom launch the boat without six 12-ounce bottles of water on ice. In my haste that morning I had walked right by the six pack on the sun porch.
I sipped that water slowly and it brought me halfway back from a very scary place. I ate a package of peanut butter crackers then ran the boat back to the harbor. Charlie backed the trailer down the ramp, and we got her up and secured as I hurriedly departed looking for a few bottles of water and a place to check my vitals. The closest place was the Tiverton firehouse. By that time I was anxious and in need of hydration which the EMTs addressed. My blood pressure was high, my pulse was racing, and an EKG suggested they take me to the hospital. I could not leave my fully-loaded boat on a side street and my partner with no way to get to my house. I drank two more bottles of water and began to feel much better. We unloaded the catch, washed the rods and boat down and I sent a worried friend back home, who all the while insisted that I see a doctor. By then it was my nerves and my mind wondering what was next.
I visited the Swansea Ambulance building where a check of my vitals resulted in a trip to the emergency room for more detailed testing. I spent the night in the hospital where I was diagnosed with dehydration, lack of potassium and heat exhaustion. The following morning my MD checked me out and sent me home with orders not to fish or exert myself over the next five days. I took his advice. That was over 10 years ago.
This week my friend Mike Woltman from NY came down for the Fourth of July and finally made the long drive without dragging wind, rain, or a storm behind him to terminate our plans. We left Westport Harbor for what was to be a four hour trip that turned into a seven hour marathon because of the action we discovered. We had a great time with slot fish up to 35 inches and an airborne alligator blue Mike fought to the gaff. By the time I cleaned our catch I was dehydrated and exhausted. In our haste that morning we had left the cooler of water standing on the dock.
The following day was planned to rest up. That was until my friend Jeff called and asked if I still wanted to get my RIB out of the water and onto its trailer. I said yes and began what became a series of detrimental activities, I was not prepared for. I dragged and lifted the trailer onto the hitch. Then I hauled the boat up on the pulley line then tried to pull start an engine I had purposely run out of fuel a week earlier. By the time I arrived at the boat ramp I was soaked in sweat and dizzy. I had only a few swallows of water with my meds and the scorching sun took its toll. I was dizzy, low on potassium and had trouble getting out of the boat. Jeff called 911 and the ambulance crew took my vitals and determined I needed to get to a hospital. Four days of intensive testing proved I did not have a heart attack, but learning that was an expensive and invasive process; not to mention the precious days lost fishing!
Some folks – like me – suffer from short memories. It took too many years before I finally realized that my health was worth more than a couple more fishing hours and a few more fish in the box. DON’T FORGET TO HYDRATE!!!!!