On the road, Key Largo
82* on arrival at 7PM
Sunday I launched the boat at 4:22AM in order to beat the high tide under the short bridge. I had no crew aboard but was determined to boat and fish. It was very dark at that hour and I had a portable spotlight availble at the helm. I preferred to allow my eyes to adjust to the available ambient light from the stars and the reflection of my navigation lights on the sides of the canal. The only problems arose when some homes motion detectors blasted spotlights my way. I piloted my vessel very, very slowly...taking my time to navigate the 2.6 miles of canal toward the harbor.
I entered Charlotte Harbor near 5AM. My new color Garmin GPSMAP 72Cx was quite helpful in dealing with the darkness. I trolled a lure back and forth along the Peace River, waiting for the fuel dock to open at Fisherman's Village at 7AM.
For some reason (to be found later) my depth sounder, stereo and marine radio were not working. Fortunately the new Garmin is battery operated. I very much enjoyed being the only vessel on the water at that early hour. Cruising along at idle speed made the peaceful easy sounds of the waves lapping at the hull quite enjoyable. I thought to myself, this must be what it's like to do a nighttime crossing in a sailboat; slow speed, lots of stars and only the sounds of the water.
When the fuel dock opened I bought 50 gallons of non-ethanol at $3.59 per gallon. I stayed tied up so I could investigate my latest electrical problems. My search caused me to open the dashboard panel, removing 10 screws. Imagine my shock upon finding 5 hornets nests or dirt daubers or whatever you call them. I used a paper towel to dipose of each and suddenly all of my electronics worked again. I then spent some time rigging up my own wire leaders, as I figured I'd encounter some toothy species today.
At 8:30 AM I re-embarked to Charlotte Harbor. The winds were 5-10 mph out of the east and this made for very calm waves. I decided to head for the Gulf and fish outside. I exited at Boca Grande Pass and headed north, about 2 miles off shore in 25-30 foot water. I was trolling two lures for about 10 minutes when the first line went off. A Spanish Mackeral, with lots of teeth, put up a fun little fight until I brought him aboard. He measured out 16"...a keeper. I put him in the box and set my lines out again. Within 15 minutes it was "fish on" again. This big daddy measured out at 24". Before the day was over I would hook one more but not land him.
I overheard a mayday call on channel 16. I jet ski rider reported his craft was sinking. His radio signal was so weak, the Coast Guard couldn't make out his transmissions. I relayed the guy's position to the Coast Guard and I started that direction to assist. Within 20 minutes the guy radioed that another vessel had reached him and the emergency was over. Code 4, as we used to say on the PD.
Another hour of trolling produced no further action so I decided it was time to head for port. Instead of backtracking, I cut in at the Gasparilla Pass and picked up the Intercoastal Waterway. The waves were so light I was able to run near 40 MPH my whole way home.
I landed at my dock at 2:10 PM. After cleaning my catch and my ship, I was beat. What a great day on the water.
Monday I left home to work the rest of the week in the Homestead/Florida Keys area.