The Great Crab Pot vs Line Cutter Debate … Little Shark River to Seven Mile Bridge

Leaving Little Shark River at daybreak, the sailing was great.  Could have used just a bit more wind, but that will come later in the day.  The nicest thing about sailing along the 10,000 Islands and the Everglades National Park is there’s no commercial fishing allowed.  That translates into NO CRAB POTS!

Daybreak Over Little Shark River

No stress watching for haphazard pots all the time!  Relaxed, had coffee & breakfast all while just sailing.  Unlike the previous morning, it had been warmer so there was no huge differential in land temperatures and sea temperatures turning the wind into an unanticipated gusty craziness and our sail into Mr Toad’s Wild Ride!

The Little Shark River approach, Green Markers 1 & 3 and Red 4 for those that have never stopped. Photo is from the day prior when we sailed in to Little Shark.

Little Shark’s vegetation is just beginning to grow back after being decimated by a hurricane, maybe Charley or maybe ????

Unfortunately the relaxed sail ended literally the minute we passed the Northwest Cape Marker!  Literally we were in the middle of the nightmare Halloween corn maze with no end in sight … and several hours later we were still in the same situation.  Several boats that left with us only had up one sail so they could negotiate more nimbly through the pots. In the distance we can see the crabbers busy making a living so the world can enjoy fresh crab.

You can never see them very well, but if you look closely, you can see one lime green crab pot line. They’re usually in lines, you just have to figure out what direction the lines are going to duck between two pots. And make sure not to get too close – some of them have lots of line attaching them, so the line could wrap your prop even if you’re several feet away.

Meanwhile the dolphins play, the sun shines and we’re just enjoying the bright day and the warmer weather.  We can actually roll up our isenglass for the first time in several days since the last cold front came through at Panther Key.

The crab pot labyrinth continues to get worse – more crab pot balls, closer together and more random than we’ve ever seen them.  I hope these guys are making a good living because they are certainly making sailing Florida Bay a bit stressful.

Approaching Seven Mile Bridge from the North, the Moser Channel

When we hauled out last November, we contemplated adding a line cutter to our prop.  Over the last several years, we’ve contemplated the same.  But we’ve always decided that we didn’t want to add a line cutter because we didn’t want to cut crab pot lines – after all the pots are there because hard working fisherman want to earn a livelihood and support their families.

As we sailed under the bridge, the wind shifted from the East to Southeast, causing the sails to luff & ruin my photo! 🙁

Do you have a line cutter on your propeller shaft?  Anyone else have thoughts about the pros and cons of adding a line cutter for a propeller?  The great debate rages on!   If so, please leave a comment and share!  Cheers!   Jan & David



  1. We’ve also talked about the pros and cons of a line cutter (we spent the entire winter in FL and are now in the Chesapeake). But at the end of the day we’ve fallen on the same side you seem to be on – these fishermen are out there working hard, and the less we can interfere with them, the better. We like it when others on the water are friendly to us sailboats (not waking us, giving us plenty of room to maneuver, etc.) and so we want to do the same to others who may, at first thought, seem to be an annoyance. We all have to share the water. Plus, we really enjoy eating crab, so feel we don’t have too much right to complain about the pots that catch them for us to enjoy. 🙂

  2. We don’t have a line cutter and don’t figure we’ll even install one. The last time we sailed through there we treated it like the worlds longest slalom course. It certainly keeps the crew on their toes.

  3. Larry - DH says:

    We always try to avoid pots and lines, or any other hazard. That said, we have a ShaftShark line cutter and it works. Sometimes you just can’t see the pots, perhaps because they’ve been dragged under by current, or because of the chop, or sun glare, it’s night, or just a lapse of attention. Stuff happens and when it does it’s better to hear a bang and go “WTF?” seeing the float in your wake than to have a bent shaft, crippled boat and possible danger in a tight situation.
    Sorry, but thousands of dollars in drive train damage is just not worth being a “nice guy” to the lobster and crab fishermen. They risk losing traps and it just goes with their territory as a cost of business. But the risk is not that great for them — Most traps are part of a string with a float on each end, anyway. If not on a string, the choice is to save them a couple of hundred $ or save yourself many thousands. Easy decision for me.

    • Two thumbs up for Larry’s response! I agree 100%. so the cost of lobster goes up a few cents in the long run because the lobster fisherman must build into their profit formula a lost pot to two.. way, way better off than a new cutlass bearing or transmission work or motor alignment… all business has hidden costs they must account for and the lobsterman is no different. I can’t believe those bleeding hearts that would rather endanger their own lives to save the poor hard working lobster fisherman a hundred dollar pot than to prevent what could possibly be a life threatening situation easily prevented by installing a line cutter… wow, that’s crazy.

  4. Have a line cutter. Do best not to use it.

    Did you throw the fire extinguisher out, too?

    I don’t want to cut anyone’s lines. I do my best to avoid them. But if they’re obnoxiously placed and I can’t do so, well, sucks to be the trapper…

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