Actually, while I usually do use that saying in a smug, joking sort of way, I have found that it truly is something to mull before jumping headlong into an unfamiliar endeavor with, lets say, “negative potential”.
My off-road vehicle floats. I use a wide tandem sportsman’s canoe with a small outboard motor to reach areas inaccessible to boats and too far for most paddlers. I learned long ago never to attempt to reach areas that I was not willing to paddle back from. Small four stroke outboards are very reliable these days, but that was not always true in the past. A fact I am sorry to admit I had to learn the hard way.
These days I am not quite as reckless as I once was, but I am pretty confident that as long as the canoe will float I can always make it back. Of course, I always have a paddle. And a spare paddle just in case. I also carry my cell phone, a VHS radio, and an EPIRB, emergency flares, whistles, and a signaling mirror. And, someone always knows the general area I am heading into in case they don’t hear from me within a certain number of days.
I also carry a waterproof ditch bag with enough spare essentials to survive at least somewhat comfortably for a few nights in the mangroves if I were ever to be separated from the canoe. The bag is attached to a life vest by a surfboard lanyard so I can tow it while swimming, if necessary. The bag sports an easily accessible whistle and a small waterproof divers flashlight fitted into a headband.
Not all of those items are a response to personal experience, but unfortunately most actually are.
This past week I got out for a few days into an area that is usually worth the effort, angling-wise, and is extraordinary for wildlife viewing. I know the area pretty well, but I have a strong suspicion that there might just be an untapped fishing dimension that I have yet to decipher. It will take some time, but if I am correct in my assumption it could be worth it, in spades.
On the second night I actually found some dry ground and enough room to hang the hammock. I recently upgraded the hammock kit with HMWPE rope, which is essentially a larger version of gel-spun fishing line. So, it is incredibly strong and reduces the bulk of rope for hanging the hammock quite a bit. Unfortunately, just like with the fishing line, knots are more tricky.
After setting up, and experimenting with some different knots, I laid back in the hammock for a test drive… and sure enough, something let go and rudely deposited my ass to the ground. But when I got up and assessed the situation, it wasn’t my knots at all! One of the metal rings integral to the hammock ropework had separated at the weld.
Being a recreational climber, I have carabiners like I have flyrods: more than a sane person will ever need. But, did I think to carry a spare when canoeing? Of course not!
Recovery from that unexpected equipment failure took a lot of time and effort and I was really sort of miffed, until I realized how lucky I was that the failure occurred at that time and not when I was set up over water!
Of all the things I scrutinize as potential problems, and either upgrade or plan around, I never looked at those metal rings and asked myself the simple question…
“Gee… what could possibly go wrong?”