Planning for the pelagic trip

PREAMBLE

Pelagic trips off the Georgia/ South Carolina coast are not a walk in the park.  The boat we use is 40 feet long, holds 12 in the cabin and will rock and roll the entire day unless the seas are dead calm.  In summer we will carry up to 16 birders, and we can experience very calm days.  In winter, the absolute maximum is 12 birders and we can expect no calm days.  That said, your safety comes first, and if the seas in any part of the planned trip exceed 5 feet, the trip will be cancelled by the captain.  Rain doesn't count.  We go anyway, all other conditions being met.   If the trip is cancelled without a prearranged weather date, your money will be refunded.  Summer trips must be booked with the captain by March.  There is no flexibility because of the demands for his boat during the fishing season.  There are no makeup dates.  We pick the dates five months in advance. Hurricanes have been known to have a slight tendency to upset our plans, and some years trips don't go. 

A boat costs a minimum amount of money to charter.  The cost is divided by the number of participants.  If a birders drops from the trip it is his or her  responsibility to fill that spot with another rider.  We try to maintain wait lists for every trip so that no one gets stuck, but at times that does not happen.  Ergo, if you drop and you or your trip leader are unable to fill that seat, there will be no refund.

 

  Florida trips UNDER CONSTRUCTION

 

WHAT TO BRING

Aboard SCAT II from Savannah space is limited, pack efficiently:

FOR ALL TRIPS:       

Binoculars – no scopes.

Sunglasses, sun-screen, hat, rain gear.  You will get wet and it will be chilly to very cold at 20 knots.

Field guide and camera if you wish.   Consider investing in some sort of waterproof rain guard for your SLR camera unless you get a kick out of expensive repair bills.  http://www.kata-bags.com/index.asp 

Food and drink to last you the 12 hours – in a small cooler

Aboard SCAT II, Capt. Amick permits no alcohol other than beer.  You are advised to bring no alcohol, period.  Your stomach will appreciate it.

 Scopolamine “the patch” (transderm patches) for seasickness.  This is a prescription for 5 skin patches. Ask your doctor for it and follow the directions.  Take it the night before.  The prescription can run about $30.00.  Most experienced pelagic birders will urge you not to rely on over the counter medications such as Dramamine.  They just don't work at sea.   If you are the least bit unsure about your tolerance for motion sickness - wear it.  It is a long day if you get sick, and your illness can make it an uncomfortable ride for the others on the trip.   This is real world - it has happened. 

 WEATHER 

Summer:   It is reasonable to expect warm weather and there is always the possibility of showers in the late afternoon.  SCAT can seat 12 of our number in the cabin in case of rain or high seas.  The rest of us will  get wet.  Again: this is not a walk in the park. Seas will probably be in the 2 - 4 foot range.  If seas are 5 feet or higher, Capt Amick will call off the trip.  It is at his discretion and your money will be refunded.  He will usually know one, maybe two days before, and your trip leaders will monitor it closely if anything is threatening.

Winter:  Cold and often misty or rainy.  These trips are more unpredictable than summer, and are more likely to be cancelled.  So, if you are traveling some distance, create Plan B so that your weekend is not wasted.  Gore-Tex or Barbour-style waxed cotton and layered clothing including fleece pullovers are advisable.  There are water resistant, breathable gloves made for fishing called SealSkins that can be bought in outdoor stores. They are probably $20.00+, but they are ideal for pelagic birding in winter.    

For Georgia/South Carolina trips there are links on the pelagic sign-up page of this Web to two weather sites.

This is a link to directions to the Tybee dock for pelagics leaving from Savannah