Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Two Texas fisherman stranded for 30 hrs at sea. One survived and the other did not. So sad. Life is so precious and fragile. My heart & prayers go out to the Coen family.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

by Robin

We were finally able to get offshore on Saturday. It was a bit of a rough start in the morning as we took our time to head out to the mahi depths. Our plan was to troll for mahi in the morning and come back in once the sun was high in the sky and sight fish for cobia.

Well, we found some beautiful rips in 135 ft of water and turned south with the lines in the water. In short order, one of the lines was singing to us!! Jack was such the gentleman and gave me first dibs.

I took my time and was careful not to lose this bull. We set the drag perfect, kept tension on the line but allowed him time to wear himself out before getting to the boat. Jack made a perfect gaff shot right behind the pectoral fin and he was in the box. He kicked & kicked for 10 minutes. Once he calmed down, Jack took this picture of me holding him. Gorgeous coloration.


Then, I noticed a school of something far off in the distance and got out my Bloggie (by Sony) for video. While I was waiting for time to pass, as we approached & they counter-approached, I gave some basic commentary on our morning fishing. Feel free to skip those notes-to-self the first 2 minutes and watch the dolphin join around us.

Then, I had the Bloggie out again, trying to capture flying fish. That is when I saw this mahi right in front of us. We nearly ran over him! But, he was so smart to dodge us and run directly to the ballyhoo being trolled behind. Here is a quick video of that. I was not able to video for long since I had to pull in the other lines on the boat so that Jack's bull would not tangle into them. Be sure not to miss the mahi jumping at the end.

Our day was looking up for a while. We had 2 nice fish in the box and it wasn't even noon. We ate some sandwiches and decided we would move inshore, as planned, and find the cobia. We were 29 miles SE from the port entrance. We sped along a couple of miles when our boat's propeller decided to break loose, AKA 'spin a prop'. Grrrrrr. Didn't hit anything or come flying out of the water. It just happened. This was at 2:20 pm. We decided to limp back into port with the 7 knots that God gave us. We gave it a valiant effort for 1.5 hrs. We moved only 5.5 miles. It was apparent that the winds were slowing us back down to 2.7 knots and the propeller might have also been declining further. We were between a rock & a hard place. Four o'clock and doing some mental math. Not a good position to be in. Twenty-one miles left to go at < 3 knots. Our kids would be wondering why we did not check in, since we had no bars on the phones to call them. I didn't want to put anybody into fear over what had happened to us. That bothered me more than anything else.

Eventually, it became clear to call our towing service. We anchored up, gave coordinates and awaited their arrival. We also had them call dear friends who had agreed to be "back up parents" in case of an emergency. They were notified and kidnapped (w/ permission) our kids until we could pick them up.

Then, we waited. We heard the various cruise ships announce their departure of the port. One by one, we watched them float by us, 21 miles later. A couple hours of confusion on who was being sent out to us, four cruise ships, and an approaching setting sun, I became a bit more anxious. The only blessings that had come during that time were a couple of texts from my friend who had our boys and my mom. (I wonder if those happened because the cruise ships had wi-fi. ???) We tried fishing over the sandy bottom, but only came up with cutlass fish (fish-snake creature). At some point, our first battery died along with out hopes of being towed. Being anchored in rolling seas, we rocked to the point of the base of my chair (attached to the livewell) began to crack the fiberglass. Not good.

I did take some video of myself making comments along the way. I may release those at some point and then again, maybe I won't. They have some raw emotion ranging from slap-happy humor to lack of hope.

Soon, the tow boat arrived from the north. In short order, Jack hooked the clasp to our bow eye (thing-a-ma-jig). We were underway about 7pm. Underway but feeling defeated over our circumstances. Certainly stuff can be fixed. These aren't even super-expensive fixes either. Yet, the 14 hrs of exposure to the elements, frustration, inability to be in control of circumstances and possibly, a tiny bit of nausea from being anchored at sea, it did something to my psyche as well as my body. I haven't been, nor wanted, to process it all, which is probably why I didn't want to write this post all week. But I digress....

Back to the story, we were kissing dry land, figuratively. I backed the trailer into the water and Jack did his best to drive (guide) a near dead boat half-way into the bunks. At this point, I surrendered to my day. There was no dignity left to behold. I got into the water, thankful it wasn't freezing cold and hooked the boat up to the winch. I cranked it closer and closer but it wasn't easy. The closer I got to it, the more I was fighting the weight, angle and people staring at me. I'm giving every bit of effort to get this pig (said affectionately) up. Absolutely nobody has made any offer to help, so I cried out to God for a little more strength. I made it within 2-3" of the rubber roller by the winch. Jack says to just haul it out. I know he's right. It will be easier on level ground.

I walked carefully back to the suv, trying not to bust my rear on the slimy concrete. As I took deep breaths, my heart was pounding, I felt a touch of asthma kicking in. Not fun. But, all goes well and we came to the staging area to prep the boat for traveling on the roads. I wanted to give in to tears but not here. Not yet. Be strong Robin.

I cranked the boat all the way up to the roller. Jack tied down the boat to the trailer. Poles go down in the floor. There was a little chatter amongst the other fishermen on their day. Then, we started for home, in the dark, much like a reverse of how our day started.

We didn't even make it to the first intersection and somebody came straight for us, in our lane. I don't even think I had any adrenalin left to react with. Jack stopped the rig and she veered back to her lane without even looking at us. My guess is that she had a little too much St. Patrick's celebration already underway. We passed another fender-bender, got on the highway and all I could think of was seeing my kids. I wanted so badly to have this cry as I hug them. But in reality, I didn't. Our friends' house was filled with happiness, excitement and curiosity. Three generations of love & prayers that blessed us. I held it together as we got the boys and completed the last leg of the journey.

The drive home was about their stories of games with the other family. I tried to absorb it, but I was still rocking on the ocean. My mind refused cooperate with my intentions of putting my kids' stories first. We unloaded a few things off the boat, got showers and my head never hit the pillow so hard in my life.

To be continued.....

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

SEAFOOD FESTIVAL (at our house)!!!!!
by Robin

We've been landlocked for 7 weeks now. Yesterday, the gusts of wind were in the low 40's (mph). Seas are predicted to be 6-9 ft this week. Last week, they were 5-7 ft.

One thing is for certain, we are in desperate need for the salt life. So, we decided to take some of our fishing money and pick up some seafood from our favorite local dealers. I am SO GLAD that I took these pictures for the blog. Who knew I would need them for inspiration after last weekend's fish fry disaster.

We were invited to a fish fry on our street. A good time was had by all. We have great neighbors. BUT, I had to go buy frozen filets at the grocery store!! It's one thing to buy tuna because our boat can't safely travel to the otherside of the gulfstream and back, but to buy flounder & whiting?? Total humiliation. The whiting didn't even look like whiting and it smelled like 5 day old mackeral, so we tossed it. I tried the flounder and found some bizarre long, white worm in the meat. I did not eat it but the thought of it made me toss that plate too. I was nearing the end of my meal, so I guess I'm blessed that I didn't toss my cookies. I will NEVER buy locally-provided, offshore fish from a grocery store again. NEVER. Plus, I'd rather keep a commercial fisherman in business & help our hurting coastal community.

So, then, when I was clearing off the camera, I came across these photos. It almost made me forget about our terrible fish fry experience. Enjoy the trip down memory lane with me....

Here Jack has butterflied & floured/corn meal (w/ seasonings) the Canaveral White shrimp.


Then, he gets the oil really hot to fry them FAST. Shrimp do not take long and you don't want to soak in a lot of oil.


Before you know it, you have a big plate of shrimp ready to eat.


It was my job to take care of the middle-neck clams. I put these precious babies onto a hot, hot bed of coals. Do not use the clams that are dead or smelly.


In minutes, they begin popping open. See them singing the blues? Wait a little bit longer.


When they go into full opera mode, it's time to pull them. Can you hear them belting out something in Italian? You could have a couple reluctant clams but if they do not open up minutes after the main bunch, toss them. That could be a sign of a dead clam which will make you sicker than a dog.


Here are my happy clams. I had 100% of them open up. Happy cows come from California but Happy clams come from Cape Canaveral coasts (or Cedar Key, FL).


Meanwhile, Jack has the other eyes going on the stove. There is corn in the back and our fake butter mixed with hot sauce on the front eye. The guys like to dip their seafood in that. I don't use it but very sparingly or else I will have to eat tums that night. Do not worry about making a colorful spread like they do on the cooking shows. When you're working so hard to put out seafood, make your veggie convenient.


Last but certainly not the least important, yellowfin tuna. It is an expensive treat, I know (don't remind me). But, we bought just under a pound which is still cheaper than that gas it took to find it in the ocean. It feeds our whole family of 4. As you can see by the picture, it is about 1" thick .


Jack lightly seasoned it and threw it on the charcoal grill. This is a QUICK PROCESS. The goal is to NOT cook the tuna all the way through. I call it raw in the center but Jack says I'm wrong and that it is "rare". LOL. That little joke went between the two of us all night long.


Jack pulled the tuna and made several slices. I put some back on the grill for my youngest who does not like his tuna rare/raw. I tried that and it is good; however, not as good as the rare steaks.


They were added to the plates, put a little tamari or soy sauce nearby, and we feasted like kings. I'm certainly homesick for the sea but at least, now, I am no longer homesick for seafood.


Did I mention that we caught "The Old Man and the Sea" on tv a few days later? It did not help my yearning for the sea.

Thanks for joining me for a trip down memory lane,

Thursday, March 01, 2012

GRRRR with this weather!!

by Robin

Earlier this week, they called for 2-3 ft on Saturday, which we can do. Today, they're saying 20 knot winds and 4-6 ft. This is just awful. 87 degrees and I can't get out on my boat to catch cobia or head out to my favorite vermillion snapper hole. That season just opened up today, March 1st.(NOTE: I was wrong with the date here. It opened Apr 1st)

I know it seems like such a selfish desire given that countries are in the midst of civil unrest and Super Tuesday is coming up in our country. People are starving in several countries and many people need the gospel brought to them in their own native language.

But, I'm only asking for 10 hrs of good weather on a Saturday. Please. For my mental health. Please? It's been 7 wks since my last fishing trip.