Monday, January 14, 2008

Back on the Boat....finally...

Today all the pieces fell together for us to get the boat away from the slip for the first time in three weeks. The weather has turned just about perfect, we had some reasons to vacate the house for a few hours, and most importantly, La Gringa's lower back issues made a major turn in a good direction. I stopped by the marina to check on the boat late yesterday, and the first thing I saw was this scary apparition approaching the slip:

Yep, Preacher got the catamaran launched. Keddie, Preacher, and Dwayne had spent the entire day fishing out near French Cay. No radio, some gauges still don't work, the bilge pump is still an unknown, but it runs. So these three packed up a case of Heineken and some bait and went fishing....20 miles offshore. And they filled that large cooler on the bow plus a five gallon bucket with fish.

So now, with Preacher's ride in the slip next door, we think we know the final configuration of our new slip at Walkin's Marina for a while:

Makes it a little bit trickier getting out of the slip, but nothing drastic. We sure could use another section of floating dock between the boats, though.

This is a view across the tops of the fences at the conch farm, right before sunset:

Thats the view standing on our bow at the slip and looking straight ahead.

So this morning, La Gringa and I decided to grab the best weather in weeks and take the boat out. While fueling up, we watched some Filipino guys catching (what we would consider) bait with a castnet off the fuel dock. The guy knew what he was doing with that net:

Dwayne was yelling at them that there is no fishing allowed in the marina, and they would just nod and smile and agree with that, and then throw the net again. A mechanic we were talking to, Derek, told us they don't use the pilchards as bait. According to him, they fry them up and eat them whole as is. I guess that cuts out a lot of time and expense in how you get your protein.

There's a simplicity to it. No boat, fuel, lures, braided line, rod, reels, hooks, bait....just a man with a castnet that can feed himself and his family with no other tools whatsoever. That's basic.

We scooted on out of Leeward and trolled for about two hours outside the reef. Despite switching lures several times, and seeing bait jumping on the surface, we didn't get so much as a nibble. The dog essentially gave up on us as fishermen and worked on his tan, catnapping on the stern when he usually keeps an eye on the rods:

I would say he is pretty comfortable on a boat, for a breed famous for being hyper. (We don't use the term "cat napping" in front of him. He's real sensitive about that c-a-t word.. We can't even say "See-Ay-Tee" either. He knows that one, too.) And he might look comatose in the photo, but don't be fooled. If one of those lures gets hit there will be daylight under that dog before we even hear the clicker go off.

Other than it being a glorious day on the water, we didn't see much. Passed close by a large Hawksbill turtle:

He seemed to be just dozing on the surface. He didn't dive when we went by. Sometimes when we see turtles we have noticed the fishing is good. Not today. So much for that optimistic superstition.

After two hours we had enough sun, and with no fish we headed back to Leeward. Two hours of sun down here at mid-day in January will fry you if you haven't been in it recently. Every time we go through Leeward these days, it seems like there have been huge changes. There is a dredge pumping sand ashore while deepening the channel. Only a few weeks ago this beach was about three or four feet above sea level:

And now its a huge mound of sand maybe ten feet high and growing by the day. I cannot help but wonder what kinds of things lost overboard in the last five hundred years are now buried under all that sand.

This is what the progress looks like as of today on the thing that is replacing all the businesses that were formerly Leeward Marina:

Here's a slightly better view of the Hon. Dr. Michael Misick' house at Leeward-Going-Through. He is the Premier of the TCI.

Once back ashore, we had some more time to kill so decided to grab lunch at the Tiki Hut over at Turtle Cove. It's one of the few places I could think of where we could park the Land Rover with the dog in it, and keep an eye on him while we selfishly snacked on Lobster Quesedillas without offering him any. He hates it when we do that. He was in there in the truck, parked next to the "Undersea Explorer":

We noticed this poster at the Tiki Hut, a sure sign that the season is picking up down here now:

I wish we were consistent enough at fishing to enter a tournament, but we are a long way from being willing to bet $ 500 entry fee on it. Heck, today we couldn't even catch a barracuda. And we ALWAYS catch barracuda.

We noticed a couple cool benches out front of the restaurant that I had not seen before. They are made out of wake boards. Probably common up in some places, but new to us. Gave me some ideas:

The dog behaved himself, surprisingly. Except for a few anxious moments when a woman walked by with a dog that looked a lot like a cross between a hyena and a dingo. Dooley went nuts. I think he was just barking at it because he thought it was ugly. It's hard to tell what he's thinking when he has to sit in a truck and watch us eat lunch. He broods. He gets moody. He mumbles vague threats, And he is more than capable of taking it out on ugly dogs, if he can't find a cat to insult.

That was pretty much our day, nothing really momentous except La Gringa was feeling well enough to give the boat a try. It went well, and we might try a bit more tomorrow. We got her an inversion table, and it's made the difference to her back problems. Yippee! We got our sea legs back. Now we need to go find some fun stuff to do and photograph.


Anonymous said...

Glad you guys could get out and fish for a while..Looks like loads of fun even if the fish aren't biting.

Sure wish you had taken some pictures of Preacher's fish! I guess you guys don't bottom fish or whatever. I am just assuming Preacher and his friends were bottom fishing, of course I don't really know for sure!

Its nice to read your articles and see your photographs. Better luck next time with the fishing!

Take care and thanks....

Anonymous said...

Good mto see ya back on the water. Must be real nice after such a long break.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear La Gringa is firing on all 8 again. I know how she feels - I knackered my back three summers ago lifting a kayak and it took 18 months to come right. Good to hear she'll be back to lifting your beer around and hauling anchor soon!

La Gringa said...

Hi Shane!

Poor Gringo - he is probably so sick of my back problems!

But we were on the boat again for a couple of hours today just puttin' around. It was a beautiful day and so good to be on the water.

Photos coming soon to a blog near you!

Malicious Intent said...

Lovely that you got out and about! I keep looking at your pictures and SOOOOO want to go swimming...however it is 27 degrees out right now and we had a snow shower this afternoon. I do have to admit that the snow was beautiful, but short lived. We are sitting here now watching tv with the wood stove going full tilt. I do love the wood the smell of the fire and dry heat it provides us. BUT, I would not mind taking a dip at your place. :)

MrPat said...

So, Preacher gets a cooler and fish box full of fish and you get squat.
Hmmmmmmm, if I were you I'd have preacher teach me TCI bottom fishing.

Glad to see you and La Gringa are back on the water. One question. Are you keeping your boat at the marina next to the conch farm, or the marina across the inlet from your house?

La Gringa said...

Hi Malicious: Yes, REALLY nice to get out for a change! Good for the soul. I had wood stove when I lived in New Jersey and I loved it so I hear what you're saying - but I do NOT miss it! hehehe

Mr Pat: Don't be hasty! We have gone bottom fishing with Preacher and I did better than HE did. He admnits that it's easier than trolling but we get much bigger fish when we are able to land one! We still have wahoo in the freezer and even after we gave him some!

Anonymous said...

That really respectable Mutton Snapper that we showed Trish holding (Nov. 27)was caught in something less than 15 feet of water, I'll bet. Snapper is one great tasting fish, too.