Thursday, November 4, 2010

Boat dealer helps angler who lost his craft in wreck

By Bayne Hughes

Massachusetts angler Sheron Brown found himself up the river without a boat Wednesday morning.

Brown, who is in Decatur preparing for this weekend’s FLW American Fishing Series tournament, had a wreck early Wednesday morning on Alabama 20 that destroyed his boat.

The wreck put him in a predicament. If he didn’t have a boat before today’s registration, he and his co-angler would not be allowed to compete.

But all it took was a few phone calls from Tammi Reist of the Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau and his problem was solved.

Fredricks Marine, a new boat store in Priceville that opens in January on Bethel Road, is loaning Brown a Ranger bass boat for the tournament.

“This state is wonderful,” Brown said. “The people are wonderful here.”

Brown is staying at the Holiday Inn. As is his routine, he got up about 4 a.m. and went with his friend, Wayne Gottobed, to get gas at about 5:15 a.m. before going to Ingalls Harbor for a day of practice.

Brown said a pickup truck plowed into his boat as he crossed Alabama 20 from the hotel to the Shell station.

“I looked back and wondered, ‘Where is my boat?’” Brown said.

The wreck badly damaged the boat, including moving the motor slightly and bending the prop. It bent the trailer in half.

“The truck lifted the boat and tossed it into the air,” Brown said.

Brown said no one was injured.

Now Brown, who is from Shirley, Mass., about 30 miles west of Boston, was not only dealing with the stress of preparing for his first tourney as a professional, he was boatless.

“It cost me a lot of money to come here,” Brown said. “I had made some repairs and improvements to my truck and boat before I left, and it’s a long way from home. It took me two days to get to Decatur.”

As a fellow fisherman, Fredricks General Manager Ken Chambers said he felt compassion for the visiting angler’s predicament.

“I feel for the guy,” Chambers said. “I just put myself in his shoes. What would I feel like if I were that far away from home and lost my boat? I’m just glad I’m able to help out.”

Brown was thankful for the help. He said he is hopeful he can find a way to promote Fredricks as a payback for the store’s help.

“That’s just so awesome for a someone to be willing to help out a total stranger,” Brown said.

Brown is one of 240 fishermen in Decatur competing in the tournament at Ingalls Harbor. Tournament Director Ron Lappin said he heard about the wreck at about 6 a.m. He was relieved that no one was hurt and happy that Brown found a boat.

With the FLW season starting in January and ending at Thanksgiving, Lappin said anglers having wrecks “is not as rare as one might think. It’s happened three or four times this year.”

Lappin said another angler headed to Decatur had a wreck in Pulaski, Tenn., and will not get to compete this weekend.

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