Sunday, May 27, 2012


Home in Port Charlotte
expecting a high of 93

Tropical Storm Beryl did, indeed, reach named storm status yesterday.  It's maximum winds are at 60MPH and is forecast to bring lots of rain to Jacksonville, FL late tonight or early tomorrow morning.  My sister, Katy, relocated from Colorado to Jacksonville last year and she's about as nervous as she can be.  I assured her there's nothing to be afraid of, just secure everything on your property so it doesn't blow away and have a hurricane party!

We had a hell of a thunderstorm at home on Friday night, with over 1.5" of rain in about 2 hours.  It's clouding up and thundering outside now, as I write this on Sunday at noon.

I went fishing with Al yesterday.  I picked him up at 5:30AM and we went to the Gasparilla boat ramp and were shocked to find it full by 6AM.  There was an overflow lot we used and got underway just after sun up.
We started in an area I worked for trout before, near Pine Island/Bokeelia.  We hits some Speckled Trout there again but the biggest one was a quarter inch short of the required 15" limit.  When Al released it there was an Anhinga (aquatic bird) waiting in hiding under my boat.  The bird snatched the released fish and swallowed it whole, much to our surprise.  Apparently aquatic birds aren't bound by the same size limit as we anglers.  Before leaving we caught some Jack Crevalle, Spanish Mackerel and a Grunt.

In this same spot we enjoyed watching a family of bottle nose dolphin clearly teaching their young how to fish.
The adults would roll and dive, come up with a fish, toss it around and the young would eat it.  Where else can you watch that?

We moved onto Boca Grande Pass and drifted cut baits in 30-40 feet.  We caught undersized red grouper, gag grouper, keeper mangrove snapper, grunts and a very respectable Atlantic Sharpnose Shark.  We tried the flats in Bull Bay but had no luck.  It was still a nice spot to get out of the wind and enjoy the steak/cheese sandwiches Al had brought for lunch.

In the afternoon we went back into the Pass and drifted the day away, catching more of the same.
The Pass was like a parking lot of boats as the Tarpon tournaments are underway but we didn't see any Tarpon hookups.  Apparently they got the holiday off?

We returned to the boat ramp at 5PM and called it a day.  When I dropped Al off he let me use his power washer to clean the blood/dirt/fish crap off the boat.  Wow...what a great tool.  I gotta get me one of those.  It usually takes me an hour with a brush/bucket to clean my boat.  I did it with that power washer in 10 minutes and I'm sure it was cleaner.

I'm home for the next few days, courtesy of the soldiers/sailors/marines/airmen who gave their lives for our freedoms.  I offer thanks to them and their families for their sacrifice.  One of favorite singers in the Keys, Michael McCloud, has a song called Memorial:

My father told me stories about heroes and glory serving in the second world war.
How young men were drafted and very soon thereafter, very few were young men anymore.
My father's companions died in the canyons and the oceans and the fields overseas.
And there we must leave them, we have nowhere to grieve them, this Memorial is all that they leave.

Where is the place to remember the faces and the names of those heroes forever more.
Sailors and soldiers who never got any older cuz they died for their country in the second world war.

It was a time in our history when there were no mysteries about what's right or what's wrong in this world.
When freedom was threatened my father was ready for a journey half way 'round the world.
My father says that time just might be the last time our country had one common theme.
To defeat the oppressors and to beat the aggressors and come home to the American dream.

Where is the place to remember the faces and the names of those heroes forever more.
Young men and women who fought for our freedom and died for their country in the second world war.

Fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers who fought for our freedom in the second world war.
Sailors and soldiers who never got any older because they died for their country in the second world war."

Friday, May 25, 2012


Home in Port Charlotte
Severe thunderstorm, 1.5" of rain so far tonight

Invest 94 now has a 100% chance of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next 48 hours.
A well defined center of formation has been detected.  The storm is bringing heavy downpours from Cuba to the Bahamas.  The center of the storm is currently 300 miles off shore from Charleston, SC but is expected to track toward Jacksonville, FL.  The next name on the list is Beryl.

The rain we are getting tonight at home is not associated with Invest 94; just a severe storm that formed over us and hung around all night.  Last night, North Port (town next to PC) had a small tornado touchdown.  There was minimal damage and no injuries.  Our rain chances every night for the next few nights is 40%.

I mowed tonight right before the rain came.  The grass is coming in very nicely.  All of this rain is saving us water money.

I'm getting up at 4AM Saturday and going fishing with Al.  He's a guy I met through Subaru Jim and Al lives here full time.  We've been out together with Jim and I've been to a party at Al's house.

Here's the latest satellite and tracking predictions for Invest 94.  Click for full screen.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Hanpton Inn, Mechanicsville, VA
64* with widespread morning showers

Alberto has weakened and head back out of sea.  Experts are now tracking a new system, tagged Invest 94. (I guess that means investigation, although I don't know why they always use numbers in the 90's).

It is currently in the Caribbean, southwest of Cuba.  The models all agree this system will track to the North but the argument is North-what?  Some have it going Northeast along the Florida coast, some have it headed out into the Atlantic toward the Bahamas.  Others have it entering the Gulf of Mexico.  We will know more later in the week.  A picture of the computer models is below.  Click it to enlarge.
Not sure how much work I will get done today in Richmond.  They are calling for widespread showers here.  If the crews don't go into the field I will stay in their office and do my monthly expense report.

Back home they are calling for rain late today and again tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


65* at wake up in Silver Spring, MD.  Expecting a high of 75.  Working the DC area today, inspecting construction crews at USCG and National Mall.  Driving on to Richmond tonight.  TS Alberto is weakening and headed out to sea.  National Hurricane Center computer models are forecasting another system to form in the Atlantic, sometime this week. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Double Tree Resort, Key West, FL
Lows of 77, highs 88
occasional showers

Like everything else this year, the 2012 Atlantic Hurricane Season arrived early, 10 days early, with the unexpected formation of Tropical Storm Alberto off the South Carolina coast.  His winds are at 50 MPH and he is expected to track northeasterly and rain on the Carolina's before heading back out to sea.  The storm poses no threat to Florida and is not expected to make landfall with the US mainland.

The experts forecast a lighter than normal year but we all know that can change.  I the first two years we were here, we would have 10 cases of bottled water on hand and then drink it through out the winter.  The last two years we haven't done that but we probably should.  We do have our important paper files, our safe room, our non-perishables, our NOAA radio, our generator, our batteries and flashlights and we keep two full bottles of propane .  We don't keep spare gasoline unless the area goes under a watch.

We have an agreement with our boatlift cover installer that if we go under a hurricane warning, they will come out and remove the canvas cover from our lift and bill us $50.  We would likely then leave it off all of that season and then have them re-install it for $100.

As for the boat, I'm unsure if I would put it on the trailer or strap it down on the lift.  The trailer is a worry about wind damage.  The lift leaves me worrying about storm surge.  I would probably opt to put it on the lift and strap it down with extra mooring lines that account for possible storm surge.  Hopefully there's no cause to implement any of my plan, like the last two seasons.

It's Sunday morning.  Kathy and I are in Key West, along with her son Sean (25) and his girlfriend Kia.  We came down on Saturday, rented scooters and gave them a whirlwind tour of the island.  We head back to Port Charlotte today for a night and I will fly to Baltimore on Monday; the kids fly home to Phoenix.

I'm sad to say that Subaru Jim is also leaving on Monday for the summer.  Jerry left on Friday.  Jim sent me a photo of a whopper of a speckled trout he caught last week in the Harbor...I mean this thing was a show piece!  I'm hoping to go fishing one day next weekend, weather permitting.

Bob and Eleanor, next door, have told me they will likely be selling their house within a year and move to an assisted living facility in the St. Pete area.  They are in their upper 80's and are having trouble taking care of their house.  I've done their yard for years but we all know there's more to owning a home than mowing grass.  They need their seawall shored up with about 20 yards of rip rap.  I know how much work that it because I did it two seasons ago.

I'm returning home today with 5 nice potted mangrove trees that my colleagues in Key Largo's Ocean Reef saved for me.  I plan on removing the invasive Brazilian Red Pepper trees from the canal shoreline across from my property and replacing them with the highly desirable mangroves.  I plan on taking out as much of the peppers as I have time and energy to do and replacing them with about 100 small mangrove trees.  This could be a 3-5 year long project.  Mangrove roots provide nutrients to the water that attract fish, the roots provide great erosion control and the thick foliage acts as a screen against high winds.  A canal property lined with mangroves is MUCH more valuable than one with pepper trees.

Today Kathy and I celebrate 12 years of marriage. 


Tuesday, May 8, 2012


On the road, Stuart, FL
currently 73 with thunderstorms

I finally finished the irrigation project and passed my County inspections too..
I didn't wait long to get out on the water.  I fished Charlotte Harbor and brought home a keeper trout.
I fished the Atlantic Intercoastal and Indian River with a friend on his uncle's boat and landed more keeper trout.  It's been way to long but it feels good to be back on the water, where I feel like I belong.

I wish I had the energy to write more, but I'm exhausted.  I will try to start posting more pictures too.
Good night.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Hampton Inn, Wellington, FL
High of 80, passing showers

It's been over 50 days since I caught a fish.  I've spent every weekend working on my irrigation installation at home but the end is in site.  All 9 valves, 38 sprinklers, 12 shrub jets and controller clock are installed and working.  All I have left to do is install the weather station, which will automatically determine the water run times/days based on daily on-site weather readings of temperature, humidity, rain, wind and evapotranspiration.
I still have a repair to do on the dock waterline, which was broken during trencher use in the first week, and I have to bury all open trenches in the front.  The back and sides are mostly done.

I feel like I have missed out on a lot of fishing this spring with Subaru Jim.  He and Jerry and Al have been going out several times a week over the last two months.  Soon, Jim and Jerry will head back north to PA for the summer.  I can only look forward to their return next winter and be thankful that Al lives in SWFL all year long.  Hopefully he and I can spend time fishing this summer.  My lifelong friend Mike Taylor plans on visiting again in July, from Phoenix, for a week of fishing.