I've always said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. After this very stressful experience I am about to recap, it has only validated that fact. The Shore Thing Charters Family Chain is simply unbreakable.
When I got my new trailer for my old boat(2007 23 Hydra Sports Bay Bolt) I knew I was in trouble. Once Kevin Deselle and his crew at SPORT TRAIL trailers lifted the boat, we saw several cracks on the bottom of the hull. I had felt an unusual bang during one choppy ride from the LA Marsh, and the boat just felt weird the rest of the way home.
I immediately called my guys at THE BOATHOUSE in Lake Shore( where we store 6 of our 7 boats). They recommended I call Joey Furlan with FURLAN MARINE INC. Joey is the fiberglass expert of the south. I called people from LA, MS and AL to find if their anyone even close to Joeys level of work. Without a stutter, everyone verified what a fiberglass master this man is.
The next call was to my insurance guy. This is my 15th year of guiding and I've never had to make a claim. I've also always had Noel Johnson with Stone Insurance as my insurance guy. He answers and returns calls and texts immediately , and also happens to be one of the best triple fishermen I know. From start to finish, he kept me in loop every step of the way. His partner, Alicia Duplechain was a life saver. She worked late and was lighting quick with every form, and statement that I needed. I was blown away at how fast these two moved, could not have been more pleased with how efficient and fast these two worked.
A day later we had Joey Furlan assisting with an insurance adjuster. The news was bad, very bad. After 8 years of constant use, that last ride home had detached my stringers, deeming the boat inoperable. Did I mention I had trips booked almost every single day!
For the first few days, Capt Alex and Capt Ray let me use their boats. It lasted only a few days, soon they were booked almost every day also. Called in a favor to a good friend to borrow a boat. Justin Jeffcoat had a perfect 24 Sea Fox at THE BOATHOUSE. He was happy to let me use his ride while I got my nightmare worked out. Next I had to get things legal. The good folks at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources were so gracious in working to get me back on the water. Director Jamie Miller, Chief Kieth Davis, Chief Rusty Pittman, Joe Jewel, and Bryce Gex all stepped up to the plate for me. My new favorite person at MSDMR has to be Mrs Debbie Love in licensing. She could not have been more accommodating and helpful. After a little faxing, some scanning and several emails, I was legal to use the loaner boat on Charters.
Through all of this, I still had to get a new boat. I made calls to several folks that I always turn to for advice in these matters. Everyone one of them didn't even hesitate when I asked for recommendations on bay boats. The 26 Avenger center console was the choice of my friends in Venice, LA and my contacts at Sport Fishing Magazine.
Next stop was to see Bobby and Emily Lamb at Atlantic Marine in Bay St Louis. They are the Avenger dealers for the area. We have bought several motors from Atlantic Marine in the past, just never a boat. As luck would have it, Bobby had 2 boats ordered and he let me lay one out the way I wanted. From then on, it was pretty much paper work, a lot of fishing and a waiting game.
I was pretty much a nervous wreck for the next few weeks. I was fishing out of someone else's boat, and had a week of overnight trips at Cat Island waiting on me at the end of the month.
Well... using up my last ounce of luck, I picked the boat up at 5pm on Friday evening. Bobby and his crew worked late getting my new boat rigged and ready. I was also thrilled to see a brand spanking new Sport Trail trailer sitting under it!!! It was hours before the first island trip. Spent all night moving my stuff outta Jeffcoat's boat, back into my new ride. I was as giddy as a school girl. The 26 Avenger is just a big sexy beast. Tons of storage, and enough deck space to play a volleyball game.
Capt Darren came down to help me get it ready. He even brought me a boat warming gift. He had called in a rush order to our friend Glenn Ladner with Dixie Signs. Capt D got us some Shore Thing decals and some "Don't Slam Lid" stickers for the new hatches.
The next morning found me crossing a very rough MS Sound, 7 angry miles to the Cat Island House. It is almost scary how good the 26 Avenger handles the rough seas. Made it to the island with no problem and the boat went right to work.
This whole process was absolutely terrifying. I was not planning on buying a new boat, especially NOT during spring time. I always try to surround myself with good honest people, and that is what the people mentioned above ALL are. So from the bottom of my heart I want to say THANK YOU!!!!
Atlantic Marine(Bobby, Emily, Roger and Cameron)
Sport Trail (Kevin Deselle and his entire team)
Stone Insurance (Noel Johnson and Alicia Duplechain)
Mississippi Department of Marine Resources( Director Jamie Miller, Chief Keith Davis, Chief Rusty Pittman, Joe Jewel, Bryce Gex, Debbie Love)
Furlan Marine Inc (Joey Furlan)
The Boathouse (Sid, Steve, Ron, Dylan and Griffen)
Dixie Signs (Glenn and Monica Ladner)
My Shore Thing Charters Brothers (Captains Matt, Kenny, Darren, Ray, Alex and Jimmy)
Last but certainly not least, my Wife and Daughter Stephanie and Margot Schindler for their unconditional love and support.