Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Monday, September 12, 2011
My best friend from Carmel (or anywhere for that matter) recently sent me some photos of our past adventure aboard the Rhum Brave to Key West and the Dry Tortugas. He flew out to Miami for a week's worth of fishing and we "slew em". Joining us was my former neighbor aboard his 27 foot Contender. My neighbor had done this trip before and a trip out to the Tortugas is best when travelling in at least pairs. We started out by trailering down to Key West where we got the boats settled into a marina on Stock Island (last island before Key West). After stocking up on some live baits (for the next day's fishing) we cleaned up and headed out for a nice dinner on the town. Up early the next morning we found perfect conditions and flat calm seas. The plan was to head out to an area called "Woods Wall". This was a location about 20 miles southwest of Key West. The wall was a pronounced ledge several miles long (and several hundred feet deep as I recall). There were several shrimp boats in the area but by the looks of it everyone was already asleep (they work at night) so we avoided bothering them for by-catch. We trolled and pulled up a nice dolphin and even witnessed a large sailfish tailwalking (Joe missed it because he was making lunch in the cabin). We arrived back into Key West with our catch of the day and headed out again for a short night on the town. We were up early the next morning to top off the gas tank, ice coolers, water tank and frozen bait (pilchards, squid, mahoas and ballyho). For the next three days and two nights were going to be fishing in one of the most remote locations in the U.S. The Dry Tortugas is exactly 70 miles due west of Key West but on that day we covered well over 100 miles. We spent the day slow trolling and visited several remote fishing sites. About 2 hours before sunset we were well south of Fort Jefferson and began to make our drive north to our anchorage. It's not a good idea to try and arrive into Fort Jefferson at night due to the large coral reefs and dangerous shoals around the island. Follow the markers or beware. One interesting note. As we cruised north we came across a significant wreck. We marked the wreck and will one day return. On my most recent trip to Key West (see earlier post) I picked up a shipwreck chart which I think identifies the wreck. It'll be interesting to visit it again. We met up with my neighbor and after anchoring off the beach it was time for ice cold beers and fresh ceviche (a combination of blackfin tuna and dolphin). As the sun set in the west we grilled up some huge grouper slabs and washed everything down with rum and cokes. That ended up being the first time I had slept on the boat. Fortunately the fresh ocean breeze kept things cool and comfortable. The next day we stayed close to the Fort and concentrated on catching yellowtail snapper and red grouper. Things got interesting when several very large barracuda (the reeper) decided our hooked yellowtail snappers would make a fine snack. We limited out on yellowtail and landed several legal sized grouper. In the afternoon we took a break to visit the Fort and even made a visit to Dr. Mudd's jail cell. The return tripback from the Tortugas was a straight 70 miles due east but a significant chop made for a long ride back. We were able to make it back to the marina and pull the boat out before closing. Somewhere in Marathon we stopped for a celebratory dinner and worked off the swaying effects of being on a boat for three days. Here's a couple pictures from that trip.
This last one was not taken in the Tortugas! Somewhere near Three Mile Island I think.