Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 22, 2010.

Hey, is that a dead horse? No, no it’s just Bill talking about the weather again.

When Christy and I first left Jersey 4 years ago the weather was one of our biggest worries. The first time we were faced with a front coming through the area we ran to a marina and hid as the winds topped 35 knots.

Now that we’ve become a little more seasoned, things are a little different. I hadn’t really realized it until just recently how much more relaxed we’ve become. Don’t get me wrong, we’re still careful as hell but now we’re a little more reasonable as well.

At the moment we’re traveling with 3 other boats that all have varying degrees of experience. The crew of boat #1 is out for their first year and I can completely identify with them as I listen to their concerns and questions about the weather and tactics. I remember having the same fears and apprehension that they’re experiencing now.

Boat #2 has been cruising for 6 months out of the year for a few years. So they have a little more comfort in dealing with bad weather in the forecast. They seem to be more interested in tactics and different possibilities when it comes to deploying their ground tackle. They seem to be past the “Show me what to do” stage and are now in the “Discuss the theory to me and I’ll do it myself” stage.

The third boat has been out a year or two longer than we have and he’s at the point where he says “We’ll throw another anchor out, we’ll bounce a little and we’ll get over it”.

So here we sit at Conception Island to the east of Long Island. The wind is brisk from the southeast while we hide along the northwest shore. The wind is supposed to clock around with light winds before settling in for about 12 hours of anywhere from 10 to 20 knots of breeze from the northwest.

The question is, do we time the front and scurry around to the southeast side as the wind starts to build from the northwest or do we drop a second hook and put up with a little discomfort until the front finally goes north. The debate had been back and forth as every possible weather forecast had been analyzed. The other side of the island was pretty rough and by the time it settled down it would be time to head back over to the west side so we’d all decided to stay put. So this morning we all spent a little bit of time dropping a second hook off to the northwest of our boats to keep us from swinging to close to the beach. We may have to endure a bit of discomfort but we’ll be safe.

This is a picture of the Aqua Doll being towed away by the salvage vessel the Amazing Grace. A few nights before we got here we heard the story unfold as to how the Aqua Doll had run up on a reef and was taking on water. A delivery captain who is now probably a former delivery captain evidently didn’t read his paper chart thoroughly enough. On the page that shows Conception Cay there’s a note that says Southampton Reef Extends another 3 miles to the north. You see the illustration shows the reef running right to the edge of the page and the note explains that the reef continues on for another 3 miles. On the chart plotter the reef appears the same way but there is no note shown on the chartplotter. So it seemed that the guy was driving by the chart plotter and not paying enough attention to what was actually going on outside the boat and ran hard aground up onto the reef.

The boat spent the night and several tide cycles up on the reef. The next day high powered pumps and divers were helicoptered in and the Amazing Grace showed up on scene. They were able to stem the flooding, pump out enough water and refloat the boat and tow it to the anchorage. They’ve been working on it for several days in an effort to stop the flooding so they could tow it away for permanent repairs. From what we’ve heard the Aqua Doll is a 68 foot Azimith which I understand is a top of the line power yacht costing in excess of a million dollars. We’ve also heard that the insurance company is forking out $20,000 a day for the salvage of the vessel.

While we were waiting for the front to get here, Christy and I decided to carry our shit across the cay and hunt the north side of the cay. There’s a ship wreck visible from the top of a nearby bluff so I thought that at the very least it make for some interesting snorkeling. We were in the water for less than a minute and I was able to spear a 4 pound Grouper. While Christy swam it back to the beach to put it into our bucket I continued on and came across a large Margate. I figured that since fish were obviously so plentiful I would pass on him and look for another Grouper, a Hogfish or a lobster. So of course, after having passed on the Margate we didn’t see another good sized fish. It was cloudy out, rain was headed our way and we decided to cut our day in the water short after one more quick swim through the ship wreck. We were swimming together on our way towards the wreck across an area we’d already searched when a massive lobster came barreling out of his hole directly in front of us. This was one of those dream opportunities. Huge bug, out in the open and apparently suicidal. Just lucky for him that the Kevorkian’s were in the vicinity. After nailing him we headed home where we weighed and cleaned our catch. He ended up weighing in at 6 pounds 9 ounces, our biggest bug of the season.

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