Fish with Caution
Thanks to technological advancements in outboard-powered, center-console boats, long-range fisheries like the Otherside are becoming more accessible. But anglers should always be mindful of safety.
Rule number one is that you should never attempt an 80-mile run in any boat with less than two engines. Similarly, you should always run with a buddy boat. Required equipment on board consists of first-aid kits, satellite phones, EPIRBs, and extra water and food supplies.
Anglers should also choose their days wisely when heading to the Otherside. Keep an eye on weather reports and sea conditions leading up to your trip. Pick a flat day, and remember that in March and April, late-season cold fronts still can make their way down Florida's peninsula.
Into summer, thunderstorms pop up quickly and frequently and can be particularly daunting when moving west to east in the afternoon. A great advantage of today's electronics - which we relied on heavily aboard the 29- and 33-foot Hydra-Sports center consoles - is the incorporation of marine weather services. Our boats were equipped with Raymarine's E120 multifunction displays, which were linked to Sirius satellite weather service. This not only allowed us to monitor the weather but also displayed updated sea-surface temperature charts, an invaluable on-the-water benefit.
The slick boats were also equipped with SeaKey, which integrates GPS technologies with electronic mapping and mobile communications to let family and friends monitor the whereabouts of you and your boat via the computer.
"With common sense, there are no boundaries today," says Alex Leva, national sales manager at Hydra-Sports. "For approximately $100 per month, you can get SeaKey, marine-weather- and satellite-phone services, and you're not going to get lost out there or have a problem. If you prepare wisely, it adds to your enjoyment and will probably help you catch more fish."