Due to a change in employment status, I was recently faced with a need to purchase life insurance. The conversation with the agent I dealt with might be useful to other avid fishermen, so I have chosen to share it.

“So, Mr. Holmes, your application says you are a charter boat captain?’

“Yes. I have done it part time up to this point, while working a full time job, but hope to be more active in the future.”

“It sort of threw me when I first saw the “Capt.” In front of the name, I thought it might be pronounced “Ka-put”, ha, ha – which would not be too good for your policy application. By now you might have guessed I am not real familiar with fishing and boat captains, so I had to do a little research to get a feel for what this would mean, actuarial table-wise.

I’m afraid I have to tell you what I discovered was not good. According to the Phew Commission on recreational-for-hire provider lifestyles, boat captains suffer quite a bit of stress.  Being responsible for the safety of the passengers and crew, integrity and sea worthiness of the vessel and equipment, and finding actual fish to catch can lead to depression and feelings of inadequacy. “

“Excuse me, not that I completely dispute what you are saying, but is there REALLY a Phew Commission about charter captains lifestyles?

“Mr. Holmes, there is a Phew Commission report on everything.

“Now, if I may continue, when the party in question is also the owner of the fishing vessel, as you are, the problems are compounded. The cost of purchase and upkeep of the vessel, insurance, permits, the high price of fuel and dockage, hiring and keeping dependable employees who can pass the necessary drug screenings make this a dangerous proposition for those with weak personalities or bank accounts – not that I am implying you suffer from either of those things.”

“No offense taken, I guess.”

‘On the subject of finances, the Phew report seems to hint that the recreational for hire fishing business is not, shall we say, extremely lucrative. Besides normal risks associated with a small business, the virtual disappearance of actual fish from the oceans – as documented by several other Phew Commission reports, which partly blame the recreational sector for continuously harvesting more than its allotted quota  – is leading to more and more restrictive fishing regulations. Smaller possession limits, stricter size limits, shorter fishing seasons and other conservation measures recommended largely by various Phew reports would seem to forebode problems for the future in this line of work.”

“If those damn Phew reports would stop coming out, with their predetermined negative results, the fishing business might be able to take care of itself!”

“Now, now, Mr. Holmes, let’s not get worked up. This is exactly what Phew warns us of.

Of course, all of the things I’ve mentioned address the mental health side of the industry – which is why your health insurance provider struck the mental health services clause OUT of your policy. There is also the actual danger of fishing far from shore in relatively small boats to consider. I checked the Phew report, and was shocked to discover that the ocean gets damn deep in some places. A person could drown! And the waves sometimes get real big and cell phones don’t always work and lots of those fish have sharp teeth. Did you know there are even sharks out there?”

“Ah, yes. I actually take customers out to fish for sharks.”

“That won’t do at all! Didn’t you see ‘Jaws’ or ‘Shark Week’ on the Discovery channel?”

“We don’t have cable, I’m afraid. Most people in Oyster Creek, Texas, where I live  still have propane powered TV sets. Hard enough to keep the pilot light lit in a good onshore breeze.”

“At any rate, this doesn’t seem to be a very productive or stable lifestyle, probably why Phew documents so many instances of AIDS in charter captains.”

“Excuse me, did you say AIDS?”

“Yes. Aquatic Induced Divorce Syndrome. Affects charter captains, dive masters, anyone who spends too much time around boats and the oceans. Are you married, Mr. Holmes?”

“Yes, I am.”

“First wife?”

“Ah, not exactly.”

“Thought not. Any children?

“A son, and my wife has three of her own.”

“Married, With Stepchildren. Another stress indicator. Any other sources of income?”

“Yes, I am an outdoor writer.”

“Oh? Where is your gun and bucket of manure?”


“I mean, isn’t that all you writer guys do, is drink, shoot the crap and chase …, oh, excuse me, that’s what life insurance salesmen do, now isn’t it? By the way, can I offer you a drink, I mean, it must be 4:00 somewhere.”

“Actually, its 4:30 PM right here, and we’re in MY house.”

“Oh, dear, and you haven’t offered Me a drink, have you? That goes in the report. Not the Phew Report ha, ha, – not THIS this time, anyway. My goodness, according to the income tables I have here, outdoor writing pays less than the charter boat thingy. And freelance writing must be even more depressing, I mean, putting your thoughts down on paper, sending them to some cruel hearted editor who probably secretly hates writers, and having it rejected so coldly?”

“Obvious they don’t all get rejected, and when an article with my byline does appear in print, the feeling of satisfaction and self-worth is more fulfilling than the paycheck that comes with it, just like putting a customer on a good fish and showing them a beautiful day offshore is more satisfying than making more money doing something else – like selling insurance.”

“Expecting to inherit money in your old age, Mr. Holmes?”

“Probably not, but …”

“OK, here’s the bottom line. Considering your lifestyle choices and income range, for the amount of coverage you want, the company is willing to just write you a check now and get it over with, instead of waiting around for your demise. We simply need your payment for the amount listed and our business is concluded.”

“But that is a lot more than what you are paying me.”

“You really don’t understand how this game is played, do you?”

‘But I can’t afford to just write you a check for that amount.”

“Sell the boat. According to the Phew report, you aren’t going to be needing it much longer, anyway.”

About MikeH

Texas hunter and fisherman for 50 years, published outdoor writer since 1979, licensed charter boat operator from 1982 to 2013. Past Member, Board of Directors, National Association of Charterboat Operators, current member Environmental Advisory Committee to the DOE and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Married to Dorothy since 2000, one son, Michael who is recently married and living in Nederland, Texas. My wife and I live in Oyster Creek, Texas, near Freeport, and have a hunting property outside of Brazoria, Texas.
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  1. Frank T says:

    Just too funny and has actually happened at some point. Hey it is 10AM, want a Beer?

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