Certain navigation lights have to be turned on at night depending on whether you’re sailing or anchored. These lights do not impinge on the dark magnificence of sailing beneath millions of stars on a crystal clear night.

But crab pots do. These pesky lines are connected to cages usually found in 10-15 feet of water. They’re usually near to shore, but they’re also perilously close to the channel that boaters have to navigate. Inevitably they are dark and covered with mud and age to make them impossible to see at night. Someone on the bow with a big flashlight can sweep the path looking for them, but the occasional rogue crab pot slips out of the line formation and directly into your path without warning.

You run the risk of snagging the line on the keel, the rudder or the prop. If it’s on the keel, you’ll feel the boat slow down and see the float moving. By stopping and slowly turning the boat around, you may shake the line. If it’s on the rudder, you can use a boat hook to push it down off the rudder. If it’s on the prop, you’ll know instantly because the engine suddenly stalls and dies (assuming you’re motoring in the channel). In this case, you’re stranded. Deploy the anchor promptly to avoid drifting aground, and then radio for help from one of the tow boat companies. Next day, hire a diver to go below and unravel the line from the prop.

Meanwhile, break out the wine and wonder, “What were we thinking?”

More from the Captain...