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Jerry Vovcsko

First dunked a worm in Otsego Lake (upstate NY) some 68 years ago and began pursuing striped bass in Cape Cod waters 40 years ago. Pretty soon I should be able to get it right...maybe.

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February 21, 2015

High Times in the Alternate Universe

by Jerry Vovcsko

Sometimes all it takes is seeing a need and filling it – and, voila!, an idea becomes a useful product. That's pretty much the way it happened for Adam Gibbs and Nick Bongi who both live in Westborough, Massachusetts and the idea was born out of their shared passion for fishing. The two 18-year-old friends have taken an annual trip to the Gibbs family's vacation home on Sanibel Island in Florida since they were kids and fishing was always a part of the trip.

They were down there one night on a dock and noticed that everyone was fumbling around with flashlights, or using their iPhone's light. Flashlights fell into the water from time to time and everyone struggled to tie knots, unhook fish, and grab gear in the darkness.

So Gibbs and Bongi decided to put a light into the tacklebox itself, and – well the idea just seemed to grow from there, said Gibbs, who is a business student at Northeastern University. The experience has turned into a two-year venture for the boys which has led to the FISHinc. ProGlo+ tacklebox, equipped with a detachable, waterproof, tubular LED light that can also charge a smartphone. The boys are exploring marketing possibilities these days and it looks like they and their lighted tackle box are looking at bright futures indeed.

Scientists may not be aware of it, but there is an alternate universe where the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl and that universe exists in any number of countries. (usually in Africa) In that universe around 100,000 T-shirts and hats, which normally would fetch more than $2 million in sales, get turned into aid packages. This year, the NFL partnered with an organization called Good360 to distribute those "back-to-back champs" T-shirts — the ones Seahawks fans were aching to wear — to communities in need.

The organization reported that they received around 120,000 items after last year's Super Bowl. Approximately 75 percent were T-shirts, 15 percent were baseball caps, and 10 percent were hoodies. While a small percentage of the merchandise came from the NFL itself, the rest came from licensed retailers. The items went to El Salvador, Lesotho, Swaziland, Uganda, and Zambia. And all because an undrafted New England Patriots corner back named Malcolm Butler from a Division 2 Florida college stepped in front of a Seahawks receiver and broke the hearts of Seattle fans with his Super Bowl winning interception.

And also in the news last week was the Coast Guard's rescue of two Australian men who probably won't receive invitations to the MENSA organization anytime soon. After searching for a sailboat to buy for nearly two years, and spending the last six weeks in Rhode Island repairing the one they blindly purchased on eBay, the father and son team set sail on what they thought would be a journey of a lifetime.

But that 8,600-nautical-mile adventure back to Australia quickly turned into a life-threatening nightmare when their 43-foot-yacht, the Sedona, had a series of unexpected mechanical problems and left them stranded off the coast of Nantucket, where they were later rescued from 43-degree waters by a team of Coast Guardsmen.

Why the two thought that buying a sailboat on eBay and sailing it 8600 miles to Australia for a shakedown cruise was a good idea is anybody's guess. Especially since neither man had any real experience sailing. And starting that voyage with a full scale blizzard moving up the coast toward them doesn't in hindsight seem like the smartest strategy.

The result of those decisions, not too surprisingly, turned out to be a disabled boat floundering around in 30-foot waves with 65mph windgusts some 140 miles offshore in the midst of a full scale blizzard. Using a satellite phone, the pair made contact with people in Australia, who alerted the local Coast Guard on Cape Cod.

For four hours, they hung tight on the powerless boat until the Coast Guard crew arrived at 8:48 a.m. with a MH-60 helicopter. The Coast Guard put a rescue swimmer in the water, then quickly lowered the rescue basket and the two would-be sailors were safely pulled aboard and flown to the base where they were evaluated and spent the night. The boat, however, could not be rescued, and as far as anyone knows, is still floating around somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. Guess they just do things differently in the Land Down Under.

As to what's-happening-locally-with-fishing, the reports all say: Not much. Between the massive snow drifts covering ice surfaces, sub-zero temperatures the past few days and roofs collapsing all over New England from the snow loads, not too many die-hard anglers are out there doing any fishing. But daylight savings time is less than a month away, spring will most certainly find us and sooner or later we'll put winter in the rearview mirror and turn our attention to rumors of cod in the surf, the arrival of the first migrating striped bass and Opening Day for the Red Sox. As Sox broadcaster Joe Castiglione would say: "Can you believe it?"

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