Catalina Island News


Afishinados Charters

There are more than a few old sayings about timing, the most notable is probably “Timing is Everything.”  I wonder if a charter boat captain coined that phrase.

There are many factors that come into play and can minimize or enhance an event.  In boating, and maybe more so in fishing, timing may not be everything, but it is really important.

Timing comes into play on every trip, particularly in the trip planning stages.  When you go boating is often as important as where you go boating.  Same with fishing. 

Most of my potential customers seem to have gotten the word on this.  I probably answer the “When is the best time to go fishing?” question 3-5 times a week.  For regular readers of this column you already know that my stock answer is, “When you can.”

I have tried to plan fishing trips to coincide with the peak timing for fishing at various times in my life.  Take salmon fishing.  The window of opportunity for this fish is very narrow for us Southern Californians. 

The fish sweep into some of our ports to the north, but usually a Salmon trip is going to require travel and planning.  Timing is hugely important on these trips and it is nearly impossible to get it right.

“You guys should have been here last week, the fish were jumping in the boat!”

Last year we had a great Bluefin Tuna bite to our South.  The fish came in early and moved around a lot.  We could not get our timing down for a trip to target these fish until fairly late in the season.  We got them, but we were right at the end of the run.

Currently we are experiencing a Spring bite that can best be described as erratic.  The fish are big, some over 50 pounds and one over 60.  They have shown up and disappeared a number of times.  Sometimes they go off in the early morning, sometimes late evening.

Timing is important in getting on these fish, but maybe more important is the number of times you get to go.  I have not gotten into the groove on my timing yet this year.  As of last week, the prospects for doing so appear dim.

Boats break.  Usually, the timing is bad.    Maybe right at the start of a trip, or before you can get to the fishing grounds, or in the case of a charter operator, right at the beginning of the season.

I ran Afishinado overtown to get some fuel for a heavily scheduled weekend.  We had 6 trips scheduled over the upcoming weekend, and we did not have enough fuel to cover the trips.

I left Avalon and headed for San Pedro to fill up the fuel tanks.  Afishinado ran well on the way over, and for most of the way back.  About four miles out of Avalon I decided it was time to open her up.

Most diesel mechanics will tell you that running a boat up to full RPM every once in a while is good for the motor.  Theoretically, it helps to blow out the carbon build-up on the pistons and increases engine life. 

I have always had trepidations about running up to the top of the RPM range.  Boats have a cadence that you learn after running them.  Each boat is different, but they all have a sweet spot.  A good operator knows where that is.

For Afishinado that sweet spot is between 2450 and 2600 rpms.  She hums in that range.  Pushing her past that always sounds a bit like she is complaining.  I kind of cringe as I throttle up knowing that everything is spinning faster and all better be well with the engine.

I brought her up to 2700.  All good.  Temps good.  Then to 2800.  All good.  Strong.  Then to 2900 and she seemed to be a bit confused.  I did not reach 3000 RPMs (top of the range) before noticing that the starboard engine was lagging and then decelerating.

The synchronizer on modern boats keeps both engines running at the same RPM.  That was not happening.  My first inclination on these new boats is that the problem is electrical.  Unfortunately, the rumble and thump that developed at slow speed while trying to diagnose the problem spoke to much deeper problems.

So now, the BoHo dance begins.  A lot of motion without a lot of progress.  The engine will need to be pulled and replaced or re-built only 1000 hours after having done this in 2015.  There will be major expenses and major battles with the engine manufacturer.  Not fun.

I feel like a baseball player that just starting getting his rhythm at the plate and was looking forward to the start of a good season, and then got injured.  Bad timing!

I have been in this game long enough to share some wisdom on this topic of timing.  Yes, boats break, and yes it always seems like it is the worst timing, particularly when you are in the thick of it.  I know in a couple months or maybe in a year I will be able to look back at the timing of this event and say, “It could have been worse.”

By Capt. John
Afishinados Charters and Catallac Tours – 888-613-7770 –