Bullbuster In Action:

"Head" Aches And How To Avoid The​​m

Author: Bullbuster Team

When the Bullbuster Team purchased the domain for "Big Game Fishing The World"  we thought, there is no way that this could be true.  This was once a legends website. Well, it turned out to be true and today we have restored some of the works of legendary Capt. Norm Isaac.  We take no credit for what you are about to read but instead insist on honoring a legend who helped shaped our sport. 


In the past couple of months we have talked quite a bit about various things not to do if you want to stay in the good graces of your crew or host. These no-no's have generally been mistakes that are unknowingly made and unfortunately generate hours of labor to fix, lose fish, get somebody hurt or, in general, just unnecessarily complicate the lives of the crew.

Of course, there is no way I could do anything more than scratch the surface. The list is never ending, plus new screw-ups are being invented every day. This I know from personal experience. Every time I think I've seen it all, the thought is interrupted by yet another maneuver performed by a well-meaning customer or crewman that leaves me pondering one of two sides: homicide or suicide. By the way, captain, crew or customer -- no one ever elevates completely above pulling the occasional bonehead stunt. With enough experience, however, some of us get pretty good at not getting caught.

The one area I haven't touched on so far, and probably one of the most important, is head etiquette. As a matter of fact, I don't recall ever reading much on the subject. Obviously, this is an area that must be approached gingerly so as not to offend anyone's delicate sensitivities.

"Gingerly" isn't really my forte; however, there is a bit that needs to be said, so here goes.

For those who don't know, the head on a boat is that delicate and sensitive piece of equipment whose proper operation, in many cases, is vitally necessary to having a relaxing and enjoyable day offshore.

When a head is functioning properly, many potentially critical and urgent situations are easily laid to rest. When not functioning properly, tension mounts, jumpiness sets in (fish or no fish), tempers get on edge and frequently the boat is back in its slip long before normal quitting time. As most of you know, and the rest of you have guessed, the head and the toilet are one and the same.

Most any of us who might be chartering a boat or invited offshore as a guest are undoubtedly fairly well checked out in the proper use of land-based facilities. Where the "toe is stubbed" is when we think the head on a boat can dependably digest what the comparable unit in your home can handle.

Another point to consider is alternative action if, and when, the apparatus we're depending on chokes. At home, there is probably a "plan B" in another part of the house. If not, one can always go next door or to a nearby service station. Offshore, it's another story entirely, particularly if there are half a dozen men and women aboard who don't know each other all that well and don't care to.

To the point! Heads are famous worldwide for clogging up or otherwise malfunctioning with very little provocation. The old adage of "don't put anything in the head unless you've eaten it first" is overdoing it a bit, but not much. A shipboard head shouldn't balk under normal circumstances, but don't overdo the paperwork. Like an old man with bad teeth - small bites and frequent swallows are the keys. Paper towels and fishing line in the head are like a kiss of death.

Attempting to flush virtually anything except tissue furnished by the vessel is risky, at best. Any experienced crew will have a convenient trash container, lined with a plastic bag to insure there is a place to dispose of items of a feminine nature along with other non-digestibles.

At all costs, do not yield to the temptation to fire such items down the head. It will, without a doubt, cough, choke, spit and cease to function until manually cleared by the crew who, to say the least, will not be pleased.

While we are on "yummy" subjects, we might as well hit on seasickness, sometimes referred to irreverently as the "big spit" or the "Technicolor yawn." For the uninitiated, don't sweat it. There are only two types that go offshore - those that have and those that are going to.

It's no big deal - unless in the process of trying to act like nothing is amiss, you make the customary scramble for the head and only make it halfway before disaster strikes. Bad plan.

First, if you foresee that you might have a problem, grab some over-the-counter motion sickness pills. Most all of the popular brands work pretty well. Take the pill as per the instructions on the box and at least one hour before you get on board. Some folks take one the night before when they go to bed and one more in the morning before heading out.

Another extremely effective way to avoid the effects of motion sickness is a patch that is placed unobtrusively behind the ear. This patch, developed by Transderm Scop introduces scopolamine into the wearer's system through the skin. My personal experience with this product has been outstanding. I would have to put it at the top of the list from both the effectiveness and convenience standpoint.

It does require a doctor's prescription, so you have to plan ahead. One patch is effective for up to 3 days and I have yet had anyone on board that was wearing one have a problem with seasickness.

If all else fails, and "the groceries" are on their way UP, forget about the head, just go to the transom or the side of the boat, in the nice fresh air, and let'er rip. Most likely, that will be that, and you'll be in top shape the rest of the day.

As long as inexperienced people go to sea, and let's hope they continue going to sea because without them a lot of us charterboat operators would be out of business, many of the faux pas referred to in this and the past few articles will continue to be part of life on the ocean.

We were all beginners at some point. All too often, even after a bunch of years on the deep blue, I still feel like one. I think when it comes to the ocean, boats and life offshore, we're all a bit like the evergreen tree: if we're not green, we're dead. There is always more to learn, and complacency is deadly.

Be sure to watch for six months of new half hour episodes starting July 4th, 1998 at 9:30 a.m. ET on ESPN. Check your local listings.

Tight Lines . . . . . Norm.

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