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Old 22-02-2008, 11:20   #1
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February 19th - The key to success in sailing – Part Three

February 19th - The key to success in sailing – Part Three

Well, as I was saying, sailing successfully to a key, anyway…

When we left you, we’d anchored off the north side of Rodriguez Key and found a nice internet connection. That connection allowed us to look at the weather in detail. We were very encouraged. However, as is often the case, NOAA doesn’t get it entirely correct…

The next day was a bit cloudy, so our pre-arranged plan of diving the hull and sightseeing the harbor bottom was put on hold and naps and general laying-about ensued. As the wind was scheduled to shift around to the South (going East, first, making for the continued lumpy water, but still a very secure anchorage until that time), we’d have a sheltered location overnight.

We thought that it would be fun to dinghy in for dinner, and so lowered the dinghy and installed the outboard motor. However, just as we started into the boat, the rains came. We dashed inside and waited out the squall, and soon, the clouds parted, the winds died, and we set off for shore. Along the way we saw a catamaran which had just anchored. He looked like a local, so we diverted to his side and chatted him up about where we might put ashore.

He advised a location which we found with no difficulty, and nearly immediately afterward, as we were still tying up, he zoomed in on his dinghy, with his dog riding up front. We waved and set out walking toward Snook’s, a popular local restaurant, Steve having been familiar with the area from having visited many times in his boat.

No sooner do we get to the main drag’s corner, and turn onto the walkway, but here comes that sailor in a pickup truck and offers us a ride to the restaurant. As it was two miles away, that was a welcome surprise. However, like nearly everywhere else we’ve been, we continually are surrounded with the kindness of strangers. Likely, we’ll never see him again, but I’m sure there was no hesitation in his mind that we should ride with him!

Following the very nicely done dinner (atmosphere, presentation, quality), we walked it off, stopping along the way to enjoy an ice cream craftsman who made his own product in his store. As it was late at night (nearly 10), he’d just made most of what we ordered, and it was very soft. That didn’t impair the taste, however! In due course, we arrived back where we’d left the dinghy, finding it 25 feet from the water’s edge, the tide having gone out in our absence.

Dragging it back in the water and getting the others loaded was not particularly challenging, but the sea state was definitely uncomfortable. The wind had built in the East during our 4-or-so hours ashore, and the fetch had as well, making for a very wet – and very long - ride back to the boat with the wind and waves on our nose. I immediately fired up the generator and made hot water and one after the other we all showered and got our salt off us and warmed back up.

The next day dawned clear and with a light wind, from the south as promised. Give that the island was in the way, we had calm water and only light winds in the anchorage despite the forecasted 15-20 knots. The apparent light winds would come back to haunt us, but for the task at hand, it was ideal. Not wanting to do that the prior night, what with the dark and stormies outside, I started by getting the dinghy up after stowing the motor and fuel tank. We sailed off our anchorage, but as we would be transiting a fiddly part of a reef, and I wanted to make sure we had a backup I’d started the engine after stowing the dinghy and motor and before lifting the anchor.

The wind was perfect – we had a broad or beam reach the entire way out to and over the reef. We were making 6 knots in 10 apparent knots of wind, and the direction was entirely controllable on a very broad reach as we went Northeast up Hawk Channel. Eventually, we turned East to thread our way through the many coral heads in Pennekamp State Park, on the way through the Molasses and Mosquito Reefs on the way out to the Gulf Stream.

We navigated closely, as there were numerous 1-6’ sections on our route, and aside from the legal ramifications of sea life protection, contacting any of them would not improve our day, either! We crossed a section of 7-9’ water, and it was a real gut-clencher to see the under-the-keel depth sounder go through double, and then single, digits on the way to just over 1!! Of course, that lasted only a couple of minutes, and soon the depths flew upward again.

As quickly as we left that area, we turned off the idling Iron Jenny backup, and enjoyed the solitude and silence. It was a great sail for a couple of hours, heading for the Gulf Stream and its northward lift. Unfortunately, the forecasted 15-20 South wind was more like 5-10, and as soon as we reached the Gulf Stream and headed North, our apparent wind dwindled to nothing. We’d expected to jibe our way North, keeping the wind to our aft quarter(s). However, there wasn’t enough to create any significant movement. Worse, the sea state was large swells from the prior few night’s strong north and east winds, and we were rolling and the sails were crashing around as they filled and emptied with the motion.

So, I put up the staysail, rolled up the genny to a handkerchief meeting the inner stay, pulled all sails blade tight to help dampen the roll, and turned on Perky. As much as I hate to run the engine, we’d have been better off going to the Bahamas than to try to get to Miami then, as what little wind there was would have been fine if we’d been going East or West, but zero-zip-nada going north.

Fortunately, with Perky muscling along, and the Stream helping, along with the reduced roll due to the change in direction relative to the waves, things calmed down, and eventually we were doing more than 10 knots over the ground with our engine only at cruising revs. We tossed out the lines again, but caught nothing but a Bonita, which we cut up for bait, and even that (the lures, with fresh bait added) produced not so much as a nibble. So, our box score for the Gulf Stream, reputed to be among the very best fishing in the Atlantic, remains Eating Fish Two (the first being our trip on the way north last year), Flying Pig Zero.

We arrived off Miami’s entrance in good time, but continued on the Gulf Stream’s push beyond the entrance before we turned in. The wind, which had finally built to the forecasted amount, helped by the shoreline channeling it, then showed its real mettle, with 18 knots on the beam. I loosened the staysail and main, rolled out the genoa and set all three, and soon we were blasting along toward the channel.

Once again, we enjoyed perfect conditions for about an hour’s sailing, enhanced by our intentional overshoot of the Government Cut entrance. When we turned into the channel, the wind wouldn’t be to our advantage, so we got some more sailing for our time out, and, as well, we helped our timing by arriving somewhat later, meeting the requirements for safety with the cruise ships.

As there were cruise ships coming out, we hailed one of them to see if we’d be able to go up Government Cut this time. Fortunately, indeed, there were only two behind the first one, and despite the freighter traffic, we knew we were going to be OK. As the next one was already on the way out by the time we headed up the channel, we felt comfortable in going ahead without running afoul of the safety patrols.

Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. We were at the crest of a flood tide, carrying us in, and assuring we’d not go aground when we turned the corner. The next cruise ship passed us before we got to the commercial section and, indeed, didn’t even have a patrol boat to keep the curious at bay. (The norm for the cruise ships is to have a patrol boat which demands that pleasure craft maintain a 300-foot separation from them.) The last boat had reversed and had already left the turning basin before we got there, and there were no incidents as we made the bridge and the corner. Sure enough, the water was thick enough that we didn’t bump as we did on the way out several days earlier!

Picking up the mooring was pretty much a non-event, too, and we settled in for showers, soon lowering the dinghy for a trip ashore. Our guests took us to a fantastic Cuban dinner in an authentic Cuban diner, our first ever such experience. We waddled away from the enormous bounty presented, and hit the hay after a calm dinghy ride back to Flying Pig, our home.

Today, I took our guests to Sailorman, the famous salvage and consignment store in Ft. Lauderdale, on the way to the airport. Nothing exciting to report, other than to be reminded that there is every sort of marine service you could possibly imagine in a one-mile radius, probably, of that location. We are so blessed to be provided with a mooring and transportation, and be in the marine capital of the US.

Tomorrow and the next several days will be devoted to our preparations for taking our next cruise. That will be a straight shot for about 300 miles, most of which will take advantage of the Gulf Stream’s lift, again. That passage will end with our putting Flying Pig on the ground for several months while we attend to shoreside chores and pleasures. But that story will have to wait for another time.

Stay tuned…

L8R

Skip

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Old 22-02-2008, 13:22   #2
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… We tossed out the lines again, but caught nothing but a Bonita, which we cut up for bait, and even that (the lures, with fresh bait added) produced not so much as a nibble…


Bonito are closely related to Tuna, and make excellent fresh eating.
(ps: I'm not a great fish-eater)
Many of the prejudices concerning these fish could stem from anglers confusing them with the less palatable Skipjack.

Bonito flesh is pink and flaky, and much better to eat if the fish is bled immediately after capture.
I understand, but cannot personally confirm, that “bled” Bonito also makes great Sushi.
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Old 22-02-2008, 13:36   #3
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I'd be curious to see just *how* Skip is catching these fish. I have tried fishing from the boat (to no avail) many times. What's the secret?
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Old 24-02-2008, 12:32   #4
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I'd be curious to see just *how* Skip is catching these fish. I have tried fishing from the boat (to no avail) many times. What's the secret?
Bummer... looks like Skip skipped town!

I can't catch fish on my boats to save my life (and it very well could do so).

I'm interested in what gear and techniques are used to catch:

*Tuna
*Mackerel
*Cod
*Haddock
*Pollack

Maybe this belongs in a new thread...
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Old 24-02-2008, 12:42   #5
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Sean in Long Island Sound I troll a Krocadile Lure.



I catch lots of Striped Bass and Blue Fish. The fish only bite when the boat is moving at 5 - 6 knots.
Get one at Kmart or Sports Authority and troll all the way to Maine.

Good luck
Paul
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Old 24-02-2008, 12:53   #6
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Dang - I thought I'd replied to both Gord and Sean.

I used a skirt lure, and the unsuccessful one was the same with bait attached.

The Bonito was extremely red meat, way darker than beef that's been left out for a while, and extremely bloody. My fish book sez it has little to no food value...

However, as to dispensing advice, I'm pretty clueless, being an entire novice. I'm sure there are other more qualified here to comment on how to catch them.

Another however, having taken my advice from sporting goods types, is that wooden plugs with hooks on them seem to work for tuna, skirted or feathered lures for dolphin or mackerel, and spoons with (A) hooks integral (not dangly triples) seem to work well on other trolling expeditions.

I caught numerous squirrel fish, trying for bait fish, off Egmont Key, with just a tiny bit of leftover steak fat on a small hook, cast under or into some sargasm grass, but aside from the shark, have caught nothing in the entirety of the time I've had wet lines with bait otherwise. The feathery (plastic) lures with the embedded hook has done all the heavy lifting to date...

HTH - and sorry about the missing replies to both.

Meanwhile, I have wheels (sorry, Alan) available if you need a ride from the airport to KL for your delivery...

L8R

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Old 24-02-2008, 12:56   #7
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Damn! I guess I suck at fishing. I was using that exact lure and caught all of 2 makerel this summer when they were running. Each time I went out to sea trolling that thing, I got zippo.

Hmmm... maybe I'll try again on the way up from FL. Something is *bound* to take a bite on that long of a trip, right??
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Old 24-02-2008, 13:01   #8
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Dang - I thought I'd replied to both Gord and Sean.

I used a skirt lure, and the unsuccessful one was the same with bait attached.

The Bonito was extremely red meat, way darker than beef that's been left out for a while, and extremely bloody. My fish book sez it has little to no food value...

However, as to dispensing advice, I'm pretty clueless, being an entire novice. I'm sure there are other more qualified here to comment on how to catch them.

Another however, having taken my advice from sporting goods types, is that wooden plugs with hooks on them seem to work for tuna, skirted or feathered lures for dolphin or mackerel, and spoons with (A) hooks integral (not dangly triples) seem to work well on other trolling expeditions.

I caught numerous squirrel fish, trying for bait fish, off Egmont Key, with just a tiny bit of leftover steak fat on a small hook, cast under or into some sargasm grass, but aside from the shark, have caught nothing in the entirety of the time I've had wet lines with bait otherwise. The feathery (plastic) lures with the embedded hook has done all the heavy lifting to date...

HTH - and sorry about the missing replies to both.

Meanwhile, I have wheels (sorry, Alan) available if you need a ride from the airport to KL for your delivery...

L8R

Skip
Thanks, Skip. I'll try some of those ideas... especially the skirt lure one. I hadn't tried one of those. Just the ones Paul mentioned and bloodworms, in an attempt to get some flounder (while at anchor).

My wife thought I was an idiot because I spent more on bloodworms than just going to the fish market and picking up some flounder. I think she's right!

Thanks for the offer of the ride. Unfortunately, I have a HUGE carload (maybe 2 carloads) of tools and stuff in storage right now in FTL, plus I (once again) have a boat list to complete some items from. I also have provisioning, and I'm a Whole Foods snob. So... I have rented a car for the week this week. But the offer is much appreciated - thanks.
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Old 24-02-2008, 14:09   #9
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I've had most of my luck with a simple cedar plug. The best was one that was tarted up with green, red and yellow. Green on top, red and yellow on the belly. Caught mostly dolphin fish with it. With the skirt rigs, I mostly caught bonito, or what I thought was bonito. They had a tuna shape, with very dark purple meat. I also caught a 3' barracuda with it just east of Culebra.

The secret is that you shouldn't put the lure too far out behind the boat. Let it skip on the surface a bit. One of the issues with that is that the birds will take interest. I had a flock of brown boobies following us, trying to get at the lure. One got snagged by the ankle, but (thankfully) freed himself before inhaling too much water. I think the hook just caught his leg, but didn't "hook" him.

My best catch was a 48" bull dolphin fish (mahi mahi) east of El Salvador. Took almost an hour to reel him in.
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Old 24-02-2008, 14:44   #10
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Let it skip on the surface a bit.
I always catch the fish when I pick up speed and the lure skips on the surface.
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Old 24-02-2008, 14:59   #11
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Ahhhh!! That's what I was missing. I figured it had to look like it was swimming freely and let out a hundred feet or more of line. I'll try them closer in next time. Thanks!
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Old 24-02-2008, 16:22   #12
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While sailing in Mexico I used to catch Dorado (Mahimahi) with about a hundred feet of 250 lb test line which had a rubber snubber on the boat end and a plastic squid (various colors) on the business end. The line was clipped to a stanchion in the cockpit and wound up on a piece of oak board when not in use.

Our Siamese cat always let us know when we had a fish because he saw the snubber jumping around and he knew sushi was close at hand. The line always went at about a 20 degree angle across the boat's wake. We dragged the fish for about 15 minutes to tire it out.

When the line went straight back, the fish was planing on its side. After another 5 minutes or so, we reeled it in. No gaff was needed and no billy club either; the fish was tired so it didn't fight much. We just squirted cheap tequila from a spray bottle into his gills. After a few minutes, it was time to fillet the fish and feed the cat.


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Old 24-02-2008, 21:07   #13
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Ahhhh!! That's what I was missing. I figured it had to look like it was swimming freely and let out a hundred feet or more of line. I'll try them closer in next time. Thanks!
Fishing off the back of a sailboat is a blast!!...I've always had pretty good luck...in all different parts of the world...5-8 knots works best....The best time is that 30 minutes where it has gotten light but the sun is not yet over the horizon...but other parts of the day work well at times too...I have alwyas used a 30z red and white feather lure on about 80-100# monofilament leader....I ALWAYS have the lure quite close to the boat....preferably in the wash of bubbles that the boat leaves....that is where you will have the best results....also if you have the gear put out as many lures you can handle...the more lures you have out (called a "spread") the more the fish will get excited and turn on the bite. If it is skipping on the surface just a LITTLE that is fine....Lures are made to look like a wounded or weak fish and that is what turns the predator onto the bite.....another thing I LOVE to do is have a spinning rod and throw a 3oz blue and silver spinner lure out and crank it in as fast as I can...I can stand there for hours doing that and I catch plenty of fish....MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmm....F-R-E-S-H Sushi!!!!!!....
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