By Captain Scott “Fraz” Murie
I’ve been approached several times recently about frustrated captains who say, “I’ve got something for you to write about in your next two-minute warning column.” Their frustration is real. Their complaint is a valid one.
And it concerns radars. It seems that everyone who owns a boat these days has a radar. From the cruisers and bay boats, monkey boats to the motor yachts and mega sportfish boats. A lot of the bigger boats have two radars. It’s a valuable tool for safety and fishing but it seems that everyone with a radar turns it on as soon as they’re leaving the dock, then they leave it on 24/7.
We have a powerful 25 W radar on our boat. It’s so strong that I can find birds 10 miles away. Finding bait that the birds are working over has become a vital tool for fishing. Navigating at night it picks up the smallest floaters and buoys.
The problem is that you see boats coming in and out of the harbor in broad daylight with their radars spinning away. You see boats laying up at the fuel dock with their radars running. Those high-powered beams are zapping through us from all sides and all angles and you don’t even need it on. It’s broad daylight outside! It would be the same as using your spotlight at high noon. It’s unnecessary and just plain stupid.
Another big problem in the northern Gulf is around the oil rigs. These rigs are giant fish tracking devices. And the fishing around them is awesome. Some guys will be trolling around them while the others are live baiting, and everyone’s catching fish. You never know how many boats will be working a particular rig, but half of them will have their radar running.
I understand the weekend warriors that don’t have a clue, and usually when they are asked to shut down their radar they understand and gladly do so. But there are a lot of so-called pros out there, running their radar in broad daylight, laying at the dock or the weigh scales or even going through a lock, who should know better.
So please, quit burning holes in us by running your radar when it’s not needed. Shut it down or put it on standby when you’re around other boats or at the dock or next to people and use it for what it’s for. Always use common sense and think about what’s going on around you. Keep your radar beams to yourself.