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July 16, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Expired $15 Permit Costs Winning Team Almost A Million Dollars

I love offshore fishing.  Few things are as exhilarating or as challenging as being on a relatively small boat 80 miles offshore on a nice day, especially when you hook a big one.  “Big” in this case is relative; I prefer the “less big” fish – 40 to 80 pounds – that we catch on meat runs, as opposed to my brother-in-law who often competes in trophy tournaments that involve sailfish in the 200- to 500-pound range.

A great deal of preparation goes into each trip and almost all of it involves safety: gas, checked gas filters, EPIRBs, flotation devices, tackle and other gear, engines in top shape, e-nav in even better shape, food, water – all of it needs to be supplied charged, stored, checked and rechecked before leaving the dock.  But sometimes it’s the smallest thing that comes back to bite you

As was the case last month at the 52nd Annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament out of Morehead City, NC where a crew in the competition landed a whopper of an 883-pound marlin.  Just one problem – a member of the crew wasn’t carrying a current $15 coastal recreational fishing license.

And for that the team was disqualified and had to forfeit the first prize.  All $912,000 of it.

The one that got away: the 883-pound marlin that was disqualified.  Photo: The Daily News

I’ve been following the online fishing boards in my spare time and there are different versions depending on who you believe: the captain took the blame for not checking everyone’s license before they left the dock, the mate swears he didn’t know he needed the license, many thought the crew should have been able to keep the money considering that their fish outweighed the second-place winners by more than 350 pounds, etc.  Regardless, an opinion published in a local paper sums it up nicely: “In this day and age when everyone is a winner and nobody loses, the decision to uphold the rules ensures that the Big Rock will remain among the country’s premier fishing tournaments.”

I can’t help but draw an analogy to the absolute need for making sure you have all of your most important documents both safely stored and backed up in case of any major interruption of your regular routine, whether it be manmade or the result of the devastating impact of severe weather.  It’s among the many easy, relatively painless and inexpensive things you can to make sure you’re prepared on behalf of your organization and your family.

Being ImpactReady isn’t just for offshore fishing tournaments.  As we see with the last month’s tournament, spending a small amount of money and time now can save you from having a huge headache later.  And who knows?  Maybe the next time a million dollars lands on the deck of your boat, you can keep it.

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