There was the five of us on this Sundays trip, myself, Cappy ( my Bro ) Harry,Gary and Tom. We headed out 40 miles in 123 ft of water in search for the American Red Snapper. The only thing we had in our favor was the wind with us going out. It was rough with 5+ seas and using all the 300 ft of line to hold bottom. We tried a couple spots where last year did good with RG and ARS and King Mackerel. This year nether of the above .It was the strangest day I ever had . Didn’t even pick up anything from the bottom. Time getting short we started trolling back .
We had better luck trolling with three dolphin hook ups and one Tunney. No birds or school of fish was seen. Was trolling with my favorite Dolphin lures. Three rods out .One short two long. All was released .They were little guys only 18 .” The tunny was kept for bait. The dolphin action ended after we got under 100 ‘ of water . If the weather was not getting as bad as it was getting we would of stayed out and picked up more dolphin and hopefully some bigger ones.
It was rough getting back and got rained on a little but made it back to the dock before the big down pour .I had to wait an hour before I could take the boat home.
It was fun seeing the Dolphin , nothing like I’m use to seeing when living in Marathon in the Keys but we had fun and made it back safe . Looking forward to the next trip.
Even with a not so great weather forecast, decided to take what may be the only opportunity to get some ARS this shortened season.
Left MarineMax at 04:00 hours, picked up live bait at our drop spot, plus we were loaded with some great Mahi Macs shrimp and squid wings.
Decided that our first stop should be in 147 FOW as we had picked some great Red Snappers at this location 2 weeks ago, but of course, being out of season, they were returned.
The first stop, while it held loads of fish, most had lockjaw. We did get a few smaller ARS, they were legal but decided it was too early in the day to keep small fish. We also lost several large fish which were either large gags or sharks.
Moved out to 162 FOW and started chumming with frozen ladyfish. That turned them on and at this spot we caught 12 ARS to 33 inches, 3 large mangrove snapper, 3 red grouper and 3 nice margate.
All in all a good day.
Went out of Venice outlet with club members Frank, Pat, Victor and myself to target some RG’s, LS, and Cobia. We had checked the weather for Wed and it was to be a good day with winds 5 to 10 and then in the PM picking up to 15. Well the weather was not that at all. It was much rougher. Not too bad because we had a 300ft anchor line and was ready!
Bait was cut bait, squid bits,squid , live bait too. W headed West and stopped at a try spot and caught some grunts for live bait ………hit another spot with a large turtle in the area. Good spot!!!!!! Must be a shelf !!!! We caught several lane snapper and 5 keeper RG’s. Not bad!!We were on channel 68 and got a call from Harry, club member and fellow crew member in the past> He was out with his brother in his Carolina offshore boat and they were doing well too!!
Off to two spots that I got broken off with something big at the end of the day two trips ago. First spot was a sleeper but then at the other we anchored and in 35minutes we caught out limit of RG’s with most of them in the 24 to 27″ range. Some more lanes too and LARGE grunts!!!! We did have a free line out and had a cut off even with a wire leader so no Cobia or the like! Homeward bound at 1:45 to clean fish and beat the afternoon storms!!!!! Great day!!!!!
OK . I went on Tarpon hunt out of Sarasota and was really excited to hook up on that beautiful silver fighting fish. Arrived at the 10th street ramp at 6am to get out there before the rest of the pack jumps on the tarpon before us. When the sun rose we were on a school of Tarpon that made the water seem black! Was using live crab, live pin fish.
Followed the school and got three lines on the school. One south of the school , one north and one just center west of the school . BAM a hit !!!! I reeled super fast ……..The Tarpon charged the boat instead of going left or right and I was not able to set the hook …..Tarpon off!! Well just to piss me off more the tarpon come up for a gulp and pass over out lines and role on their sides to show off there scales in the sun! Beautiful to see.
OK, now we are out there 4 more hours following the same school and we have a top line , a medium line and a bottom line out there. Another hit on the top line and the Tarpon just stole the crab for a snack. No hook up. We did this for another 2 hours and nothing. They were not interested in eating just pissing us off!!!!! That is Tarpon fishing! Thus the only hero pics are the two that follows.
Report for my keys trip is a little late but here it goes. My wife, my son, and I went down to Marathon for a week May 12th. I pulled down my little 14′ skiff with grand intentions of becoming a flats master and killing bonefish and tarpon on the fly. So what actually happened was a stiff 25 knt wind till Wed that lowered to 10-15knts. So with me itching to get out I talk my wife (who gets sea sick) into going out on the headboat. I figured 75′ headboat 10-15knts no problem. Well with a solid 20knt blow and some serious gusts and solid 4-6′s she was seasick as soon as they dropped the hook till we got back to the dock. My son even got sea sick where he never has before and he has been out in some sloppy stuff with no problems. So I was the only 1 fishing, got all my fancy spinning gear with light floro ready to show all these “tourists” up and just got spanked! The guy next to me is fishing a 1980′s rusted penn conventional with 40 lb mono leader just killing yellow tails and I am getting grunts on 6ft leader of 15lb floro!! That is pretty much how that trip went. More than a little frustrated but oh well. Thursday the wind laid down and we were able to get out on our boat. First shrimp down gets nailed by a 5lb Jack and my wife has a good fight on her first jack. The rest of the morning was slow, I tried fishing the 7 mile but conditions were a little sporty under there for the boat I was in so we looked for other places. The tide really started running out so I found this other bridge (out to someones house I believe) and we set up on the up current side and started picking off mangos for the next few hours. The other high light of the day was the mango that my son caught that had yellow fins. I was later told it was a school master snapper. Pretty cool. If any of you know my son you will believe me when I tell you that everyone in the resort we stayed at knew Collin caught a school master snapper. Friday the winds blew again so we packed it in.
Sunday the 25th trip out for snapper and grouper came up quite short on that order. Spot in 70′ 3-4 triggers 12-13″, boat load of nice porgy and large grunts, no snapper or red grouper not even short red grouper not sure on what the deal was on that. Trolled back in and nailed a estimated 50-60lb Cobia on a pink cd 30. Weighed it based on my son who is 42lbs lol. We called it a day after that and cleaned fish for a few hours.
still working on loading pics
On my last trip out I posted about a spot we saw on the way back that looked good. Up early this morning and thinking about that spot I checked the weather .Looked great and off I was on the spot at 7:30. By 9:30 I had two grouper 23″released four 20″ and many shorts. The prize was a red grouper over 30″ . He swallowed the hook so I just cut the line while he was in the water. Two 23 ” grouper was well enough for dinner tonight. Another good spot added to my list.
Any day out fishing is a great day as we all know. But trip was a little special because Tom is back in the fishing loop after spending some time off the water due to a skiing accident. Also was Gary and Steve. We fished SW in the 90 ft. area .We did good with the grouper and loaded up with the Vermillion Snappers .Also was visited by a large Barracuda that just didn’t want anything with a hook on it .New rule unofficially on the boat is that grouper has to be 21” to be a keeper.. Tom caught the first Grouper and it was 20 in. Reluctantly he released it and was told he would get a bigger one . That didn’t happen but we all caught bigger grouper. Sorry Tom. Still friends ?
We trolled for a while and picked up a couple little tunnies. One on a 3 oz red and white jig and a green Squid with a lead head make by Boone., Great for Tuna, dolphin and king mackerel.
Coming back we pasted over a great looking spot. It was late and I marked it for later use.
Had a good day fishing with great guys .
Me and a couple buddies baited up wed. And headed out Thurs. for some action. It was pretty slow as we jumped from spot to spot until we anchored up over a depression in 95 ‘ and the bite was on.
we boated several red grouper that preferred live blue runners. Didn’t take pics as we all seen em.
i did however take the picture here of the little tired bird that flew on board with us.
funny thing is that after he became calm with us, he stayed and cruised all the way back into the jetties with us.
that however wasn’t good enough…….he stayed all the way to my dock resting on my helm towel til we were safely tied up then flew off.
after a tedious internet search I identified him as an American redstart. I trust the image got inserted here.
Well things are starting to come together with the planning and preparations for our next mega adventure on the Loud Enuff as we plot a course to San Salvador, a southern “Out Island” deep down in the Bahamas.
For the past week I have been organizing all of the appointments with various marine technicians, electricians, yacht detailers and mechanics. I had more appointments in the past two weeks than I have hairs on my head! The engines and generator have all been serviced with oil changes and filter replacement along with checks on all of the boat’s operating systems. That’s a lot of checks!! Just prior to my departure on Friday my diver will do a final underwater inspection and cleaning of the hull and replace any of the zincs that are worn. A clean bottom makes for better fuel economy!
Just yesterday I made a long drive to Palm Beach on the East coast to get my supply of ballyhoo and mullet that we use for bait and teasers. This also gave me a chance to pick up some special tackle that I cannot get on the west coast of Florida and it is always a pleasure to go to the Black Bart storefront.
For those that may not know Black Bart makes some of, if not the best, marlin lures around. We use them almost exclusively and they have brought us great success over the years. They do require maintenance as the plastic skirts and leaders get chewed up from the fish and just wear and tear.
While in the store, I spoke with the GM Jack Tullius who keeps his boat (the “Black Bart”) in San Salvador. We will be docked right next to him while we are there. After picking up some skirts and hook sets and obtaining an up to date fishing report from Jack, I set out to get my frozen baits and other miscellaneous tackle. A lot of money later I was back in the truck headed back to the left side.
Wednesday May 21st marked the beginning of crunch time with final rigging and shopping. The inside of the boat looked like a bomb went off with fishing gear and supplies all over. It was a disaster, but it was an organized disaster.
On Wednesday evening, Stephanie and I made the third shopping trip to the food store. We will actually make one last trip late in the evening just before I leave to get fresh lunch meat, milk, eggs and other things that may spoil after some time. I have every meal planned right down to how many bottles of water we will need for each person, for each day. LOGISTICS!
The weather is looking good so far and my hope is to move the boat from Marine Max up to the Venice Yacht Club on Friday afternoon. Here, it will take almost two hours to fuel the boat, fill it with water and do a final pump out of the black water tank. After fueling, we will move to a slip where I will be in “The Zone” for the night planning the route, calculating fuel burn rates and deciphering marine forecasts for each region we will be going through in the next few days. My intentions are to go to Key West, then refuel ( it will take 600 gallons of diesel to get there) and get any last minute supplies or deal with any issues before we make the crossing over to the Bahamas. We will spend the night in Key West, then get up very early and cross over to Chub Cay in the lower Berry Islands. This trip (depending on weather) will take at least ten hours and I will burn about 1,000 gallons of diesel. In Chub Cay, I will clear Customs and again, refuel. Customs in the Bahamas is nothing like Mexico (Fingers Crossed!) and as long as you take care of the Customs Officer (wink wink) the clearance process is painless, aside from the $300 plus to get all of your licenses and cruising permits. My mate Devon will be arriving sometime tomorrow from Alabama and he will be with me for the entire trip. Devin is a world class mate and Captain and is extremely capable in the cockpit. He is also funny. Throw in that southern Alabama accent and things really get interesting……
Friday May 23rd
The day started off well and actually ended well. What happened in between however, not so much. “Obstacles”. Yes, that will be the word of this day. Arrived at the boat around 9 am and found Randy Yoder (the owner of True North Yacht Service) had the backup power outlet to the boat’s main power supply in pieces. I had added a spare power cord to the boat as a precaution in the event the main cord or transformer died while we are away. Problem was, the outlet has a weird wiring configuration with a unique neutral wire situation. I am petrified of electricity in any capacity ( I turn off all the breakers in my house to change a light bulb) so I was not getting involved in this. I had to place a call into my Hatteras point person in North Carolina in order to get some insight from the Hatteras factory electricians. Turns out, she is on vacation. Seventeen phone calls later I got a promising lead on a voicemail. I left a message and finally someone called me back to help. I just handed the phone to Randy and continued on with packing the boat. I knew with Randy working on it we would get it fixed. We packed up our main water hoses, along with a spare hose that I store in my transom fish box. You may recall from last year’s trip this is the same fish box that lost the lid when the dolphin kicked it over board in 10 ft seas. Well, as I lifted open the hatch cover, the entire lid just came off in my hand and detached at the hinges. That not workie! Mind you, not one hinge broke, but both at the same time. We’re not having good luck with this fish box lid. I sent Devin to the hardware store while Randy sent one of his technicians to his shop to search out duplicate hinges. This is why I use True North folks. They understood I was leaving on this trip and expected some last minute issues. I had the owner and a tech with me just about all morning. That is service! We were able to get a set of hinges along with a spare set, because I’m sure the other section of the lid will break at some point when I don’t need it to. Devin and I then began loading the freezers, dock boxes, folding tables, chairs and buckets. We then loaded all of the frozen baits and food into both the built in freezer and the bait freezer that will be powered by an extension cord from the engine room. There is a lot of strategy that goes into packing every supply you could ever think of into every nook and cranny on a big boat. Thank goodness Devin is young and agile.
After loading the cockpit, we then moved down into the engine room. Here, I have all of my spare engine parts and other mechanical supplies. I carry enough engine and transmission oil down here to do a complete oil change in the event I have an issue. The fluids are stored in five gallon buckets ( a lot of them). I also store my electric teaser reels, folding chairs, three big gaffs and some fans in this area. Well, as I was moving one of the heavy five gallon oil buckets, I turned my foot to get my balance and put my right heel right into the six inch gaff. At first it just hurt but a Milli-second later I felt the pain shoot up my leg into my spine as I realize it struck the bone. I guess there is not a lot of blood in this area of your body but after about a minute Devin looks at my heel and declares that I better get the bleeding under control. So this obviously set me back a bit….. Another hour or so later (and some gauze) we were locked down and ready to fire up the generator and engines to make the move to the Venice Yacht Club for fueling.
I went up to the bridge to turn on all of the electronics and gauges only to find my main gauges (that basically control most of the boat’s operating systems) were completely dead. The boat has a computer downstairs that monitors everything and sends the information to the display on the bridge. Sometimes it just needs to be re-started and allowed to re-boot. That would be the easy fix- but not today. After several attempts to fix this thing (which is electrical by the way), I knew I had to get Randy back over to the boat. Again, talk about customer service! Randy came back over with a bunch of computer cords, keyboards and monitor displays. We had to once again call Hatteras to get the computer guy on the horn and he was able to walk Randy through the steps necessary to troubleshoot the issue. The computer actually has two hard drives (one is an exact copy spare) in a computer tower located in the salon. One of the hard drives took a crap just as we were leaving (not two weeks ago when we did a complete systems inspection) and had to be switched out with the spare. Randy got it though and despite being behind schedule now three hours, we made it to the Yacht Club before they closed. This is the reason I also plan extra days to get to my destinations to compensate for the last minute snafus. We added 1,200 gallons of diesel to top off the tanks and got the boat tied up for the night. It looks like tomorrow (Saturday) will be our final food shopping run and minor adjustments and we will lash down all of the gear in the cockpit for the crossing. The weather is looking decent for us to get to Key West first thing Sunday morning. Stay Tuned.
Saturday May 24th
Today, like yesterday, started off well and ended well. There was a call made to 911 however. Devin and I got up early and got right to work on the outriggers and some other miscellaneous tackle jobs. Every year I re-string the three outriggers with new line and clips. There is also a “center rigger” upstairs that I run from the bridge that needed to be worked on. After a couple hours we had all of the lines replaced with new 400 lb test mono and release clips and we continued to fine-tune the inside of the boat.
We phoned in our final lunch meat order to Publix on the Island and finished our final shopping here. As Steph and I were exiting Publix and walking through the parking lot, I saw an elderly lady belly -up in the parking lot lying next to a car. The lady was 88 years old and her husband was still at the wheel of the car in a trance. Both of her legs were under the car on the passenger side of the car and she was getting burned from lying on the blistering hot black top. I removed the floor mats from the car floors and placed them under her and asked her a series of questions about what happened. She was pretty confused, but not as confused as the husband who never moved from the driver’s seat. I asked her if she wanted me to call 911, but she insisted that I do not do that. She felt she was OK. After a few minutes I was able to move her legs from beneath the car but she was still complaining about her skin getting burned. I instructed the much older husband to pop the trunk so I could see what else I could place under her to to shield her from the blacktop. Instead of popping the trunk, he mashed down the gas pedal on the running car and almost blew it up. Thank goodness it was in park or I don’t know what would have happened (other than I wouldn’t be going on a fishing trip). The lady insisted on not calling anyone for help, but then realized her right leg didn’t feel right. When I looked at her leg, I saw that just below her knee the bones went out at a pretty sharp angle. It was then I told her that despite her objections, 911 was getting called. The bambalance showed up and after giving the comatose husband my card I had to get my lunch meat and frozen goods to the boat lickity split. There comes a time folks when that driver’s license must be looked at with an open mind.
The rest of the day was uneventful and we had several sets of friends stop by the boat to wish us well on the trip. We sat in the cockpit after dark and watched the countless snook feed on the glass minnows. I did manage to catch one of these crafty buggers! We are in bed early tonight as I’m sure the alarm clock will ring way too early. Tomorrow, Key West…
Sunday May 25th
We were up at 6am locking the few remaining things down in the cockpit and retrieving our dock lines, fender balls and power cords from the dock at The Venice Yacht Club. By 6:50 am, we broke the Venice Inlet and pointed the bow of Loud Enuff south on a heading of 173 degrees for 163 nautical miles. We were met with light winds from the west (the weather man called for east winds) and only a slight ripple for waves. Yeah ! After exactly six hours of uneventful cruising (aside from seeing a large blacktip shark feeding ride down the side of the boat) we arrived at the main Key West Channel and made our way to the Conch Republic fuel dock. We burned 600.7 gallons of diesel and had no mechanical or electrical issues. Fingers crossed. Devin and I washed the boat and dried it as quickly as we could in the hot Key West sun to avoid hard water spots on the fresh wax job. Now it’s time to settle in and get a good night’s sleep ahead of our long day tomorrow. Just a heads up, I may not be able to do an update tomorrow evening due to a lack of internet, electricity or both. I will do my best to get a post up as soon as I have a good wifi connection. L8R folks
Monday, May 26th
(the internet is bad, I will add pics l8R)
The weatherman predicted winds out of the eats at 5-10 mph and seas at exactly 0.7 feet. One would think this would make for ideal conditions to cross the Gulf Stream, enroute to the Bahamas on a 250 nm journey. Well, at 6am I awoke not to my alarm clock, but the hull slapping from the wind-driven waves in the marina. Ugh! Stand by… Not what I was expecting, but I had to deal with it nonetheless. We cleared the main Key West Shipping Channel by Malory Square by 7 am and pointed the bow of Loud Enuff East in 2-3 ft seas. Not bad, but I knew what was ahead of me when we got further offshore. The route I take to Chub Cay actually runs me right along the reef line of all of the Florida Keys. In fact, in some areas I actually have to change course to avoid shallow areas, especially around Sombrero Reef in Marathon. This is where our direct course takes a bit further offshore and we catch a ride on the east/northeast Gulf Stream current. There is no doubt when you enter the current because you will immediately see your boat speed increase by about two knots. You will also see the seas grow, especially when the wind and the current are opposing each other, like they were today. It makes for a nice washing machine effect. When the wind is against the current, the waves “stand up” and get very short. For three hours we were in solid 4-6 ft seas, with many waves spraying up onto the bridge and even over the hard-top. Once we made it out of the stream, the speed slowed down, as did the waves to something more manageable. We crossed the “Bahama Bank” at around 1pm, but still had a LONG way to go.
Once we crossed over the bank, I brought the boat down to idle speed so Devin and I could take a bathroom break, make a sammich, and check all the operating systems in the boat after the rough ride. I sent Devin down first to do a walkthrough assessment before I came down. A short time later, Devin comes back up the bridge ladder and asks me, “Well, do you want the good news or the bad news?” Let me tell you right now folks, this is a set up. I have been doing this long enough to know that right now, there is no GOOD news!! Devin proceeds to tell me that the stairs in the salon that go down to the lower level are completely destroyed (and he wasn’t kidding). We have a set of four stairs that has a good deal of storage under them and they lift up to access the storage. The stairs swing up and down on gas shocks and lock at the bottom. Apparently, when it got rough, the catch that keeps the stairs closed failed and the stairs sprung open. When that happened, each waved we hit proceeded to twist and rip the stairs from the hinges that secures them to the main floor. Carpet and all ripped up. No Bueno!! I managed to safely secure the stairs so no more damage would occur and we continued on, but it is gonna be an interesting fix!.
On the Bank, the water goes from 2,000 feet to just 12-14 feet deep. It is very shallow for about 60 miles, until you reach what is called, “The Tongue of the Ocean”. Here the bottom drops off to 2,000 feet in about a football field’s length and the water turns from green to cobalt blue. It took us until 4:30 pm to reach the entrance to Chub Cay Marina with just minutes left to clear Customs and Immigration and re-fuel.
I had arranged for a taxi to meet me at the fuel pumps while Devin got to re-fueling the boat of the 900 gallons it took us to get here. Customs was a breeze (unlike Mexico) and after declaring my guns, ammunition and number of people on board I was able to lower my Quarantine Flag from the outrigger. We were then assigned a boat slip for the night and got to washing the boat. It took us about an hour and a half to completely wash and dry the boat, and then Devin got right on dinner. Devin brought some mean sausage from Alabama that had a good kick to it and we cooked it on the new grill right on the dock behind the boat. While I was sitting on the dock taking in the fresh breeze, drinking a very cold Corona and smelling the food cooking, it all came back to me- the reason I do this…
Tuesday, May whatever it is…
Ok, sorry for the delay in posting but I have been dealing with a crapstorm for the past 4 days. We made it safe and sound to Nassau and got all tied up for the night. Later that evening, after the engine room cooled down, I went down to do an engine room check to make sure all systems were good to go. When I inspected the mid-ship bilge area, I happened to notice a slightly above normal level of water in the bilge. I really didn’t think much of it, but decided to open up a couple other inspection covers to see what may be going on. When I opened the inspection hatch on the port side of the forward bulkhead, I saw a bit of water trickling through one of the channels to the bilge. At first, I just thought it was condensation from one of the four Air Conditioning units draining into the bilge. Something told me to taste the water and low and behold, it was salt water. Not good!
At 8:00 pm, Devin and I began scrambling through the engine room looking for any possible source for this water. What was weird was that this area is around the mid-point of the boat, by the forward bulkhead. We looked in every crevice we could possibly look, even using flashlights.
We eliminated the mid-ship areas then began working our way towards the back of the boat. After several hours of searching, Devin finds that the rear engine area (where the fresh water maker is located) towards the back is all wet. We keep looking and he finds a white hydraulic looking cylinder that appears to be leaking water from it. Salt water. At first, we thought it was the membrane for the water maker, but after further inspection, we ruled that out. The problem is that this cylinder is in a horrible area, right under the exhaust for the port engine and barely accessible for any tools.
We looked all over this part for a serial number or part number to determine what the heck it was for. At this point, we had no idea what the hell it was, just that it was leaking saltwater into the boat. Devin got his cell phone and stuck it behind the part and just started snapping pictures along the length of the part. We came upstairs and downloaded the pics onto my computer and went through all of the images. After several pics, we found a part and serial number for the cylinder. I was able to get on Google and search out the part number and we were finally able to determine that the piece was our Power Steering Heat Exchanger and cooler for the port Transmission. This is a major part for the boat! I was able to find a PDF file on the net and narrowed it down for what I firmly believed would be a monumental challenge to physically get my hands on a replacement (in a foreign country).
A million thoughts were going through my mind right now, but none more important than finding out how to shut off the water leak. We started shutting off the sea-cocks but the water continued to flow. I immediately got Randy Yoder from True North on the phone through the Viber App. If you do not know what this is, look it up and get it. It allows you to talk to anyone in the world, free, as long as there is WiFi. Randy and I were on the phone for what seemed like hours while I shouted down questions to Devin who was in the engine room. We decided that with the sea-cocks off, it would probably take several hours for the lines to drain and that by morning it would most likely be stopped. I surrounded the entire area with big beach towels and my good chamois to channel the flow of water away from any major components and into the bilge if possible. Just after midnight, we came out of the engine room in a torrential sweat and conceited that this was all we could do tonight.
I did not sleep that night. First thing in the morning I was on the satellite phone to Hatteras Yachts trying to get my hands on the part. You would think a satellite phone would work anywhere in the world, but not for me. I struggled through at least thirty attempts to get a signal before I finally got a real person on the phone. I gave the parts manager the part number and told him I would call him back in twenty minutes so he would have a chance to research the part. Of course, twenty minutes later, I could not get a satellite signal. It was hours before I got the parts guy back on the phone and the good news was that Hatteras actually had several of the parts in stock. Awesome !! Problem now, getting it to Nassau in the Bahamas and through Customs. Remember, I still have water flowing into the boat.
Hatteras was able to get the part out via Fed Ex, on a priority shipment, but the problem was that because I had such a hard time with the satellite phone it was now late in the afternoon and Fed Ex had already picked up for their area. They were kind enough to physically drive the part to their Fed Ex office and got it sent off. Now the wait game begins. Bahamians have no sense of urgency. As long as they can take their next breath, they are content. They do NOT care that your boat is leaking and you REALLY need the part ASAP. In fact, if they sense you are really desperate, it may take longer.
I got a tracking number, but that was probably a bad idea. I have no idea how many times I refreshed the Fed Ex tracking page to see where the part was. It was taking an eternity. Blake was due to get in at 2:30 Thursday and our original plan was to leave for Staniel Cay first thing Friday morning. Of course, as soon as he got to the boat he was excited to be on vacation and away from his grind. I handed him a beer then broke the news about our hurdle. Here is one thing I did smart- I had a plan in place. I activated the plan and I had taken the time to set up a Scuba diving trip for him the next day to keep him busy. He took the news very well.
I paced the docks all day Friday. I called the Fed Ex national office and requested they expedite the delivery, but you can imagine how that went. Internet was up and down all day, which made tracking the package more challenging. At two o’clock I just went out to the street and waited for the Fed Ex truck to pull into the marina. Two hours later, right at 4pm, it pulled in.
As soon as signed for the package, I called my Bahamian boat technician and asked him if it would be possible for him to come to the boat this evening. He told me he was eating dinner, but would be there in an hour. Believe it or not, within 45 minutes he was there with tools in hand. At this point, my anxiety was pretty high so I just let Devin and the tech go downstairs and handle the repair.
By 7 pm, I had the boat fired up and engines running. Phew !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Saturday, May 31st
Early on Saturday we untied from Nassau and headed out what is called Porgee Rock, on a heading to Highbourne Towne at the far north tip of the Exumas. The pass through (Inlet) from the inside, to the outside was absolutely breathtaking, but tricky. The water goes from 25 ft to 6 in a matter of inches. Either side of the pass is lined with giant rocks and there are coral heads everywhere. Because the water is gin clear you can see every inch of the coral heads and it really makes driving a boat with a 6 ft draft interesting. As soon as we cut through the Exuma Sound we hit 2,000 ft of water and finally, we put lines in the water!
Within 5 minutes of lines in, a 35 lb bull dolphin hits the right flat, goes air born twice, then pulls the hook. Because we are not tournament fishing, I can run a line from the bridge and fish it. A minute later, I hook the 15 lb cow dolphin from my rod and we are not only on the board, but we have dinner!
We trolled our way from the Exuma cut south towards Staniel Cay where we had a slip reservation for the night. The plan was to stay at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club for a couple days and do some diving. We caught five dolphin in the 30 lb class and some wahoo on our way, but our stay in Staniel was a giant FAIL. Despite making reservations months ago, and confirming it before we left Nassau, they had no slip for us upon our arrival. We ended up having to tie up to the fuel dock for the night and run our generator because the electric did not work. Not Good! We cut our visit to Staniel very short and decided to just run to San Salvador first thing in the morning. Disappointed! Here is a great video of Devin feeding the sharks next to our boat though.
Sunday, June 1st
Woke up to the sound of pouring, torrential rain which is very common for the Bahamas, especially this time of year. As soon as it cleared out, we made our way from Staniel on a course to San Salvador, via Cat Cay. We ran hard to the southern tip of Cat Island, then put our lines in the water (all 12,000 ft of it). We didn’t get a single strike despite our best efforts. We trolled until 3pm and then decided to just run the rest of the way to the San Sal Marina entrance.
We arrived there at 4 pm and got all signed in and had a drink at the bar with “Peaches” the bartender.
We have an absolutely incredible private beach just behind the marina with sand that rivals Siesta Key. We went for a swim in the ocean and relaxed for a bit before Devin fired up the grille to cook the dolphin, wahoo, hot sausage and Texas toast. We do Not go hungry on these trips, that’s for sure! Tomorrow’s dinner, Omaha Steak Company Filet Mignons and Maine Lobsters on the grill.
The internet has been patchy to bad at best, so I cannot upload any pics or videos. Our plan is to try for marlin in the morning, then maybe some diving on Tuesday. For those that may not know, San Sal is home to a Club Med and has some of the best diving locations in the world.
This is “Pops”. He comes to the boat every night and sings us a good luck song for the next day’s fishing.
Monday, June 2nd
We were up early getting lines and lures ready at the crack of dawn. The marina entrance sits right at the drop off to 2,000 feet of water so literally as soon as we cleared the cut I was able to lower the outriggers and start fishing.
We trolled our way south to a popular area known as “Sandy Point”. There were a couple of other boats there but they all reported the fishing was slow. In fact, it was. We trolled for ten hours today without getting a bite. We did not even see a fish, let alone catch one. We ended up calling it quits at 6:00 pm and slid the boat right back into the slip in time to cook an awesome dinner on the grill.
For each of these trips, I order filet mignons and NY strip steaks from the Omaha Steak Company. While not cheap, they are probably the best steaks you can get your hands on. Add to this the Maine lobster tails I got from the Venice Yacht Club prior to our departure and we now have the fixings for a great surf and turf in paradise. At least the awesome food made up for the slow fishing. Tomorrow is another day!
Tuesday, June 3rd
Again, up early with lines in the water as the sun was coming up. I wont drag this out for any longer than it needs to be so in a nutshell, we did NOT catch anything. A bit frustrating, to say the least, but the scenery and great crew makes up the difference.
Like last night, we had an awesome dinner and our mate Devin is doing a great jog keeping us fed. We had scored a giant pork tenderloin before we left and I cut it into Pork chops that we cooked on the grill. We added to it some really big shrimp and once again, we ate well. Tomorrow however, I’d really like to see a fish…..
Wednesday, June 4th
Happy 48th Wedding Anniversary to my parents Fred and MaryEllen!!
We only had at most a half day to fish today as Blake and his guest have to catch a flight at noon. Blake will be back in a couple days with his son Dan who is a really good fisherman. Well, all I wanted was to see a fish today, and my wish came true. Early in the morning we got a hard bite on the left long outrigger and we put a beautiful white marlin in the air. He jumped a couple times and then we put him back in the sea, where he stayed. Oh well, at least we got to see one!
All morning we were dogged with rain storms which kept us from going where we really wanted to go. With our limited amount of time to fish we had to stay close to the marina. At 10:45 we got another great bite on the right flat lure and another white marlin was in the spread. We had this one on for a little while and got to see some incredible jumps very close to the boat. Like the previous fish though, it got away. Not our day I guess!
I had the guys back on the dock at noon and thanks to the heavy rains we did not have to wash the boat. Blake got on the plane and I took a shower and a long nap. Devin and I will re-group and get the boat cleaned up and tackle organized for round two. It will actually be nice to rest for a couple days until Blake and the family return. We will just be living the dock life for a few days and then back at it.
Thursday, June 5th
Today with just Devin and I and a day off (sort of). We were able to sleep in a bit and have a lazy morning routine. I have not taken on diesel fuel since we made it to Chub Cay at the beginning of the southward turn and I knew we were getting low. Fuel in the islands can be a challenge in that it is sometimes dirty (contaminants and water) and can also be scarce. Considering we are in a marina with about a dozen large sport fishing boats fishing every day, I decided I should get fuel while the fleet was out fishing and not take any chances on waiting.
One would think a task of simply taking on fuel would be uneventful, but not in the Bahamas. The main means of communication here is the VHF radio. It is like our cell phones, except that most people answer their cell phones. I called the fuel dock for about an hour with no response. I knew that a few boats were coming back in at noon to get fuel so I wanted to be done by that time and get whatever fuel was available before the fleet could possibly leave the tanks empty. After an hour of calling with no response, Devin and I decided to just take the boat over to the pumps and tie up. At least we would be in position before the fleet and there is only room for one boat at a time.
As soon as we tied up, I found the Dock Master Linden. He was hard at work and nowhere near the VHF radio. Only in the Bahamas…
Linden told me he only had “about 700-1,000 gallons of diesel available”. Well, I knew I would need at least 1,000 gallons since we have come a long way and fished for three days without taking on fuel. If we had waited till after the fleet came back in, we would not have any fuel for who knows how long. Devin got to pumping while I dumped copious amounts of “Biobor” fuel treatment into all three of our tanks. This prevents algae from forming and keeps the fuel clean. Bahamas’ fuel does not have the red dye in it, so when you look at your water separators, they are clear. Keeping the Bahamian fuel clean is tricky.
While Devin was fueling, I snooped around the marina to inspect the fuel delivery systems. What I found did not impress me.
In the Bahamas, they are not so technologically advanced and to pay for my fuel they actually ran my credit card through one of the old “Knuckle Buster” imprint gadgets with the carbon paper. Kind of scary actually. I took on 942 gallons of fuel which was pretty close to my calculations. I keep detailed logs on the bridge with me that I update every hour as we are running. I am constantly calculating gallons per hour and time at specific RPMs so I know how much fuel I am burning. I do this and also build in a 20% buffer in my favor. This way if I have an emergency and have to run hard somewhere I know I have enough fuel.
So far on this trip, we have traveled 816 Nautical Miles and burned 2,412 gallons of fuel. This pic is the view of the Ocean (looking west) from the fuel dock.
After fueling, I caught up on e-mails and website stuff all afternoon and we decided to go up to the resort (kind of a resort) for dinner. Devin has been cooking some awesome meals on the grill every night, but the bugs here are really bad once the sun goes down. He basically has to shower in bug spray just to cook and I figured I would give him a night off from that and go to a decent sit down meal and have a cocktail.
So here is how eating at the “resort” works. Sometime before 2pm you must call the cook on the radio and ask what the dinner choices are for the night. There are only two and typically it’s either something from the sea or something from land. Tonight’s choices were either steak or fresh cracked conch with baked potato and broccoli sides for both. Devin and I decided to go with the cracked conch as we have good steaks in the freezer. Man was this a good choice! The cook will call you on the radio and tell you what time to be there. We walked up early to the bar which sits directly over top the ocean and spent some time with the bartender, “Peaches”. Peaches is also the hostess and waitress that brings your meal to the table. Peaches makes a mean Goumbay Smash by the way and after only two of those we were both in a good place.
There is never a rush in the islands, so dinner took a while but it was well worth the wait. If you ever have an opportunity to enjoy truly fresh cracked conch, do it (and I’m not talking about deep fried conch fritters you may get in some seafood joint in the states). Dinner was awesome and what really made it was the fresh house salad, baked potato and broccoli. We have not had many vegetables since we left so this was a real treat for us.
We just about had to run back to the boat after dinner as it was dark and we were donating pints of blood to the insects with each step. The No-Seeums are horrible here and the mosquitoes are so big they have landing lights on their wings!! We called it quits for the night and crashed.
Tomorrow we will tinker with some tackle and the boat during the day, then we are going to the Club Med for dinner. According to the locals, it’s $50 pp for all you can eat and drink. We shall see……
Sunday June 8th
Ok, the internet is horrible tonight so I will make it quick. We caught a MASSIVE Blue Marlin Today!!! Over 700 lbs. Here are some pics. I will get the story up when I can…
Blake’s son Dan fought this fish for over an hour and he did a fantastic job. The fish was absolutely huge. It took about 600 yards of line off aShimano Tiagra 80W real quick. We caught it real close to the reef in about 900 feet of water. During the fight, it took us up onto the reef into 52 ft of water, which made things interesting. i was not only afraid of striking the reef, but I was waiting for the sharks to get the marlin at any time.
Turns out, luck was finally on our side and we landed the big girl
While Devin was removing the hook, the fish bit down on his hand and he could not get it out. Hairy few seconds there…..
Monday June 9th
We caught another Blue Marlin today. This one was a smaller fish of only about 200-250 lbs. Sorry for the lack of detail right now, but it takes about 4 hours to upload these pics. I will add more to the story when wifi is up.
Thursday June 12
Again, sorry for the delay, but the marina has lost power numerous times in the past few days and when that happens the wifi goes on the blink and apparently resetting it is not high on the resort’s priority list.
We have struggled to land a fish the past two days. On Tuesday we made the run over to Rum Cay to fish. It was much rougher with seas at 4-6 ft all day. It was not until around 4 pm that we got our first bite by a blue marlin. The fish hit the right flat lure first, then swung back around and hit my bridge rod. The fish jumped a few times (which is a sight to behold) but threw the hook. Bummer. That was the only bite we had all day.
Yesterday, we stayed closer to San Sal and continued to fish the Sandy Point area. We had a busy morning catching a smaller blackfin tuna and a couple barracuda. I was chasing birds in an area that goes from 5,000 ft to 90 ft of water and it had fish breaking water all over. We managed to hook into a large 60-80 lb class yellowfin tuna on a small ballyhoo right on the edge of the drop-off. The fish just about spooled a Shimano TLD 50 before the hook pulled.
The day continued a downward spiral from there. We managed to hook into two blue marlin, one white marlin and a 40 lb bull mahi. We lost them all. No tackle failures, no angler mistakes, the fish just came unbuttoned. Sometimes you’re the bug, sometimes you’re the windshield!!
Today I hope is a much more productive day, but we are also working against a full moon. Marlin fishing and a full moon do not get along. Fingers crossed…
Thursday June 12th
Well today was a much better day!!! Not a high number of fish, but quality! The morning bite was very slow and it seemed like an eternity before we had our first bit of action.
We fished the Sandy Point area until about 1 pm when I decided enough was enough. While the southeast wind was pushing clean, purple water up against the edge, it was very beat up by the amount of boats that were hitting it. I decided to make a move and go off the beaten path to much deeper water than we had been fishing.
It did not take long and the right rigger line snapped and we were tight on a fairly large white marlin. Our angler, Dan, jumped in the chair and strapped the bucket harness to the 80 W reel. White marlin are not nearly as big as the blues and it did not take Dan long to get the fish boat side. Devin leadered the fish up while I shot some video from the bridge. I was unable to get any still photos of the fish, but I hope to have a video uploaded when the internet is working properly.
About an hour later, we got a good bite on the right flat, but the fish did not get hooked. I quickly brought my bridge rod lure in and positioned it just behind the flat lure and quickly got the follow-up bite. It turned out to be a nice 20lb class cow dolphin. Dan made short work of the fish and Devin did a good job sticking it with the gaff. Soft shell fish tacos for lunch tomorrow!!!
We got back to the dock around 4:30 and made quick work of cleaning the boat. As soon as we finished drying the boats with the chamois, I cleaned the dolphin and bagged it. Before I started cleaning the fish on the community fish table, I realized the smell was just to strong for me to take any chances with bacteria or other bad creepy, crawly things. Dan and I took a five gallon bucket and a gallon of bleach and scrubbed the table like it has never been scrubbed before. Let me just say that these were the cleanest dolphin fillets that table has ever seen!! While looking at this picture, I also realized that it has been three weeks since I have put on a pair of shoes!
For dinner, we had some juicy Rib Eyes and lobster tails. Devin is doing and awesome job of keeping us fed! Tomorrow is Friday and our last full day of fishing here in San Sal. I’m trying to decide which way to run to fish. I think I may run to the north where there are some serious drop-offs and we caught a blue marlin the other day. We shall see in the morning!
Saturday June 14th
Again, sorry for the delay but wifi is really bad here. Yesterday (Friday) we did not get a bite. We fished to the north early in the morning and then ran 20 miles to the south around lunch time to try our luck there. We weren’t the only crew with no luck as the entire fleet reported no fish. We all attribute the lack of activity to the full moon. Oh well, we are in a beautiful place and once again, we were about to eat well.
We decided that after cleaning the boat and taking showers that we would all go up to the Club Med here on the island. I’ve heard of these Club Med things but have never experienced one. Apparently, there are a lot of French people there. In fact there were! For $50 pp you get unlimited food and drinks for as long as you can consume it. The buffet is probably the largest I have ever seen with foods from around the world. Luckily for me it was all you can eat, so I visited no less than five countries! This place was really neat with a live on stage show, numerous bars and a Disco! Did I mention there were really a LOT of French people??
Blake and I actually called it fairly early and caught a cab ride back to marina while Devin and Blake’s son Dan went clubbing. The stories we heard from those two the next morning were pretty comical, with the best story involving a school bus at 1am and Devin in a Break-Dancing Contest with the local Bahamians and getting a standing ovation (can’t make this stuff up).
Since getting the boat a year and a half ago, Blake and I have been looking for the perfect piece of art to compliment the main seating area in the salon. It is a corner area just above the table where we currently have a useless land line telephone. We have wanted something fishy or nautical that would really accent this area. I remembered from the last time I was here in San Sal that there was a local wood working guy named Kenny that could make us our own piece. While walking down the dock the other day I ran into him and asked if he would have time to carve us a unique marlin. I’ve seen some of the work he has done in the past and all I can tell you is he has only gotten better with time. In less that 24 hours, Kenny showed up at the boat with this beautiful hand carved Marlin that fits perfectly in the corner.
After Blake and Dan left for the airport, Devin and I got to packing up the dock and loading the boat for the very long trip home. I expect it to take three very full days. The wind is supposed to blow at 15-20 knots from the east as well, so I know it’s gonna be three very long days. Later this afternoon, I will go up to the resort and settle up our bill and put the last few things in the cockpit. Once again, we have had to lock everything down in strategic places so that we can get to them if need be. I hope to leave San Salvador at 6am and make the 208 nautical mile run to Chub Cay. We will spend the night and refuel at Chub, then get another early start on Monday and hopefully make another long run to Key West.
So far, we have logged 1258 nautical miles and burned 2,842.8 gallons of diesel. BTW, diesel is $6.98/gallon where I am…..
I may be out of the loop for a day or so, bear with me and I will get a post up as soon as I can.
Happy Father’s Day Dad !
Monday June 16th
Sorry for the delay but you know the story. We have had two extremely long days of traveling. Devin and I are tied up safe and sound in Key West as of 4:00 pm today. I am completely exhausted!!!
Yesterday’s trip from San Salvador to Chub Cay was quite uneventful. We had following seas the entire way and we got into the marina just in time to refuel the boat. There was no water at the marina so we could not wash the boat, which was actually a blessing in disguise. We were able to eat that much sooner and get to bed.
The crossing through the Gulf Stream from Chub to Key West was very long at just over 230 nautical miles. We had 2 issues as soon as we got into the current that I do not enough time to explain now. I will get the full story and pics up as soon as I get settled back at home. We are safe, but it was interesting…
We have 186 more miles to go until we get back to the Venice Yacht Club for a final re-fueling of the boat before I tie her up at Marine Max. I expect to be coming through the Venice Jetty at around 1-2 pm if anyone is bored and wants to go down there and wave as we come by. I’ll honk the train horn at ya !!! You wont be able to miss us, we will be the biggest thing on the horizon blasting in from the south at 35 knots!!!
L8R for now…
To followup from the last report on our crossing back home to Florida, we had a couple of situations that raised our blood pressure but we made it safely.
About an hour into the trip and before we left the Bahama Bank out into the Atlantic and Gulf Stream, I decided to go down into the engine room and do a check of all systems. Everything looked just fine until I looked at the other Power Steering Heat Exchanger on the starboard side of the boat. I could not believe my eyes when I saw that it too was now leaking! I found a flashlight and inspected closer to see it was leaking in nearly the same exact location as the port side was when we were in Nassau. Unbelievable. After some time of closely looking at the area, I determined the leak at this point was not as severe as the original one and there was not as much water intrusion into the engine room. I was able to stuff some large towels around the part to soak up the water and decided to do hourly checks to help evaluate if it was getting worse. We were committed to the crossing at this point and there was no sense in returning to Chub Cay.
About 45 minutes after dealing with that situation, I get an alarm on my CAT engine display for the port engine. Everything was running just fine, with all of the engine temperatures and pressures right where they are supposed to be, but obviously something set it off. Problem was that the alarm only provides a code number and does not tell you in plane English what the heck the problem is! I was able to turn the alarm off and begin checking all engine systems manually. Now my gut is in knots and a million thoughts are going through my head. “Is it related to the leak” was a serious consideration. Thinking it through logically caused me to believe there was no correlation between the two and everything was, after all, running fine. One thing about a Hatteras is that they do things right. The display that was giving me the alarm was my secondary gauge for the port engine (redundant gauges). There were no alarms or diagnostic problems on the main gauges so this made me feel a bit better.
I studied the alarm screen and code for I do not know how long, just cruising along at 30 knots racking my brain. I was smart enough to get my cell phone and snap a picture of the display with the codes shown for future reference. I could have written them down on my ships log but crossing through the Gulf Stream at 30 knots makes writing a challenge. A picture was a much better choice.
At this point I am again thinking, Ok, the engine and steering are both working fine and we are committed. I decided to just press on and monitor the systems much more closely. I knew that if the alarm sounded again, I could always slow down and call Caterpillar on the satellite phone and have them decipher the code for me. The gauges on the main display did not move and the alarm never sounded again.
It took us about 10 hours to reach the main Key West Shipping channel where I was met by a Navy Ship right at the mouth of the channel. Ugh, not again! Just off the ship’s port side we were able to see a very large barge carrying what looked like a SCUD missile on it. Rather than piss off the Navy, I called them on the radio and asked what was going on and if I could access the channel without them pushing and red buttons! They told me they had some “operations” going on and that I had to keep a 1.5 nautical buffer from them. OK, no whatever, I just want to get home…
We made it o Key West around 4pm and refueled the boat yet again. I only put about 800 gallons in it as there was no need to top it off with expensive Key West fuel prices (the diesel is much cheaper back in Venice). While Devin was fueling, I called Customs and Immigration and cleared the two of us and the boat back into the country with no problems whatsoever. The steering heat exchanger did not cause us any additional problems and I was able to manage the small leak. I got on the phone with Hatteras and ordered two more parts and had them overnighted to me. The engine display never went off again. I called Caterpillar for the source code and they told me it was only a loose wire on the back of the display and had nothing to do with engine performance or reliability. It probably wiggled loose because of all the traveling and waves we have been in over the past month. Phew, NBD.
After getting cleaned up, we sat down at the Conch Republic Seafood Restaurant for a giant cheeseburger and watched all the freaks for an hour or so. We were back at the boat early for a good night’s sleep as we are both extremely tired, but also anxious to get home.
Tuesday June 17th
Stormed all night. I woke to pouring rain, thunder and lightning. The plan was to depart Key West at 6am, but that wasn’t happening. As badly as I wanted to get home, I also did not need to be an aquatic lightning rod. Discretion told me to wait it out and so we did. Around 9am the radar showed the storms were finally heading off the the west and we made a run for it. For the first hour we were in some rain and wind, but the lightning was off in the distance. I hit the throttles a bit more than usual and stomped on it to get us the heck out of there. The further north we got the better the weather became. We settled in for the long ride and made it back to Venice at 2pm where we topped off the fuel tanks at the Venice Yacht Club. HOME !
On this trip, we traveled 1,859 nautical miles and burned 5,136.1 gallons of diesel. We caught several blue marlin (including the largest marlin I have ever seen) a lot of mahi mahi, wahoo, tuna and a white marlin. I will get additional photos up as soon as possible.
This should put into perspective my communication challenges………………………..
I will be doing a re-cap of this trip with many pictures and videos at the next Gulf to Bay Fishing Club Meeting on July 17th. Don’t miss it!
Mondays trip out was good going but had a east wind coming home which slowed up things a little. No kings or black fins on this trip but we did get a couple 26in and 22 in grouper and some snappers . Trolled for awhile and picked up one little Tunney on a 3 oz. white and red bullet head jig. This trip included members Mike D and Mike S and Steve G. It was a first trip with Mike S and
was glad to have him. Had a great time as always