Off My Dock: Treble Trouble

The unseen hazards of working on boats.

Off My Dock: Treble Trouble
Stray fishing hooks top the list of hazards marine techs face, and he has no charity for the boat owner who carelessly puts him in peril.Tim Bower

The rusty treble hook was lost under the helm console of the ­Yar-Craft a season or two ago. The hook was found by Dan the Outboard Man when he shimmied below the console on his back. This was unfortunate for Dan and also for my good friend Chuck Larson who, as owner of the Yar-Craft, would be held responsible for the rusty treble hook getting embedded in Dan’s left shoulder blade.

It was a classic case of no good deed going unpunished. Because the marina shop was so backed up, Dan had agreed to work freelance on a Sunday morning and install a new fish ­finder on the Yar-Craft’s helm so Chuck could go ­salmon angling on Lake Michigan without getting lost in the fog. This led to Dan crawling like a spelunker under the console to investigate wiring options, then to his inadvertent discovery of the rusty treble hook and to an ear-splitting utterance of expletives inappropriate in Chuck’s neighborhood, especially on a Sunday morning. One of the three hooks sank deep into Dan’s back while another stayed snagged in the boat’s carpeting, and — I cringe as I write this — Dan found himself momentarily attached to the boat by the hook. The carpeting eventually gave way, and Dan was released.

I walked with coffee in hand from Chuck’s kitchen to investigate the hubbub in the driveway. Chuck was examining the embedded hook. He could not remember if it was from a ­Floating Rapala No. 9 or from his trusty red-and-white Dardevle spoon.

“I think I changed out the hook on the Dardevle last year and dropped the old one,” Chuck opined. “I guess you found it.”

This just further infuriated Dan. Stray fishing hooks top the list of hazards marine techs face, and he has no charity for the boat owner who carelessly puts him in peril.

I used to know that old hook-removal trick where you use a loop of line and press down on the shank, but that’s not something I do every day and Dan didn’t seem inclined to wait while I searched for the ­YouTube video, so we all loaded into the truck and went to the ­emergency room where they removed the hook after cutting a hole in Dan’s shirt. The hook was added to a display case in the hospital lobby filled with lures the ER has extracted from human flesh.

Dan did install the electronics in Chuck’s boat and gave him a bill that included an extra hour at the full shop rate for the ER visit, $40 to replace his work shirt, and the $500 ER bill, which Dan would not submit to his health insurance from work, since he was moonlighting.

We retired to the Lake View Inn where Chuck told me he thought there was a bright side to the day.

“Better a treble hook in Dan’s back than in a granddaughter’s foot,” said Chuck.

I will drink to that as long as Chuck’s buying.