The Mackerel Trawler

With the New Year approaching and goal setting becoming vogue again, it’s time to consider our comfort zones that we’ve found and maybe pushing the boat out for greater riches. Let me tell you how a mackerel fishing adventure with a twist can help you re-consider about your comfort zones.

All summer Lewis and Euan kept badgering me to take them mackerel fishing.  There seemed something adventurous and mysterious about heading out to the open sea in a real fishing trawler to catch mackerel and bring them home for breakfast.

I caved into their demands during our weeks visit to Salcombe, Devon this summer. I was really quite looking forward to it myself, if truth be told, but I kept them dangling on the hook, so to speak, to boost their enthusiasm.

It was a damp Monday morning in mid-August that we set off on the good ship Calypso from Salcombe harbour.  It was early and very overcast, with a smattering of drizzle, but not too windy.  Besides we were wrapped up, dry and had just parted company with £35 in cash to the eager boat owner.


Out we sailed, fairly calm it was, and a few other boats were sailing along the estuary. It was the height of the tourist season and every Brit seemed to be “stay-cationing” in the UK this year, so it was quite busy.  The views were stunning.  Salcombe has a natural harbour in its estuary, the hills on either side rise sharply to provide an excellent shelter for the myriad of boats, yachts and ships that ply their trade along the coast.

The boys were having a great time.  Excited, eager to catch breakfast and holding on to the sides bolstered by their life jackets. I was enjoying the scenery and the skills of the captain.  I always admire a man at the top of his game. Our grizzled and weathered captain had many years experience, you could tell.

And a good job he had too as it turned out.

As we left the sanctuary of the estuary the whole outlook changed, the winds picked up, the swells increased and the waves started rising alarmingly towards us.  The trawler which looked so strong and worthy in the safety of the harbour suddenly looked bewildered and vulnerable in the open sea and we rode the swells in alarming fashion.

The boys held on for their lives and so did I, but the captain assured us this was very unusual and he’d steam around the swells.  I’m glad he was there.

You see in business – sales, coaching or managing – we often languish in our safety zone, not wanting to take risks or move beyond our safety blanket, our known world. But if we do, it opens up new horizons.  The salesperson who takes on a whole new client who he never dreamed of approaching.  The sales coach who adopts a new style of coaching, a manager who takes a risk or two.

These can all lead to new zones which can provide fresh rewards.

The good boat Calypso was safe in its estuary but as soon as it entered the outside sea, it began to struggle.  Thankfully we had the captain who was able to sail us around the swells to calmer sea, where we were able to relax a little. And then we could cast our hooks over the side and reel in mackerel after mackerel to take home for our breakfast.  I wish it were so.

So next time you feel you’re stuck in your estuary and shelter, but don’t seem to be making any headway, reach out and leave your comfort zone.  You never know what riches you’ll find.

And as for our catch, well for me it was non existent.  The sea picked up again, I lost my sea legs, felt terribly ill and laid down in the cabin for the duration of the trip, much to my embarrassment. I didn’t catch a sprat.  If it wasn’t for the boys, we’d have nothing to eat for breakfast, they were very successful as we steamed through shoal after shoal of mackerel.

So much for my Mackerel Fishing Adventure but at least I experienced something outside my comfort zone!