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February 25, 2014

10 Ways to Keep the Deck Safer Aboard Your Fishing Boat

If you want to keep your crew safe and land more fish, use these 10 tips to keep the boat deck clear

You've heard Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. When it comes to fishing lines and nets on boats, I have an amendment: Anything that can snag, will snag. A second amendment applies to crew members: Anyone who can trip, will trip. I call these the Hendricks’ Laws, and they often impose themselves at the most inopportune times, like in the middle of a hot bite. For this very reason, on my boat I am a fiend about eliminating any possible snags or tripping hazards. Not only does this practice improve the odds of catching fish, it helps keep crew members secure and injury-free. Here are 10 tips that I have learned to minimize snags and improve deck safety.

TIP 1: Retractable Cleats

If your boat has standard cleats, consider replacing them with pop-up or pull-up cleats from companies such Accon Marine or Attwood Marine Products. In the retracted position, these lie virtually flush with the mounting surface to eliminate any possibility that they might snag a line or trip a crew member. Yet the cleat is quickly accessible when it’s time to belay a dock line or tie off the anchor.

TIP 2: Recessed Rails

Rails that are recessed along the gunwale have all but replaced elevated bow rails on new center-consoles for offshore fishing, particularly those models that maintain the same deck level throughout the interior. Some models have no rails at all, but I like the idea of a handhold when going forward for safety. Recessing it minimizes snags and the possibility that it might tangle a line.

TIP 3: Hidden Anchor Roller

A growing number of new boats have the anchor roller recessed into the bow stem below the ­forepeak, eliminating bow pulpits and rollers, as well as the ground tackle topside. Models from brands such as Grady-White also conceal the windlass under a hatch in the bow deck. This results in a wide-open, ­snag-free forward expanse that’s perfect for cast-netting or even fly-casting.

TIP 4: Flush Hinges

Old-school hinges had pivot-pin assemblies that protruded about a quarter-inch above deck level, and could trip and inflict painful gouges to bare feet. Thoughtful marine-hardware suppliers such as Accon Marine and Freeman Marine have now streamlined hinges so they lie virtually flush with the deck. Think about retrofitting your boat with these if you have old-style hinges.