- < May 1-3, 2015 - Grouper Opening Weekend, well day anyway...
- July 7-14, 2015 - Cat Cay - Not a lot of diving, but it's all good >
I guess it all started about 4 weeks before when I get the call from my most adventurous spearfishing bud Carlos, asking if I was up for a 5 diver, 4 day trip to Andros in the Bahamas. Being the expert that I am on the Bahamian islands, I immediately ask "Where?". After a few minutes of discussion and a quick Google Maps lookup, I realize that this is no ordinary trip he's contemplating. Andros is the largest island in the Bahamas but is the least densely populated and most of the island is considered fairly remote territory. "We're going on an adventure..." he tells me. With the 225+ mile trek to get to our destination in Congo Town as well as all the supplies we would have to carry, he needed to know who was committed to making the trip. Having previously said that I wanted to make more trips to the Bahamas this year, it was "put up or shut up" time for me. We discussed potential finances and after clearing it with my financial manager (a.k.a.. my wife), I was IN!
The next 4 weeks are a blur with the flurry of phone calls and text messages discussing purchases, weather conditions (Which we evaluated almost daily for the 4 weeks leading up to the trip) and excited talk about all the remote spots we would dive upon our arrival in Congo Town. Unfortunately we did lose one participant for the trip for whom the timing just didn't work but the remaining four of us (Carlos, Carlos Sr., Jorge and myself) were stoked (and nervous) and excited (and worried) about this hopefully "First of a Lifetime" trip (we surely don't want it to be "Once"). None of us had ever made this trip but thanks to all the research Carlos and his dad had done (racking up quite the international phone bill) they did everything possible to ensure it was going to ensure that this trip was not only enjoyable and safe but exciting and productive too!
The night before the trip finally arrives and we all meet to load up all the gear and supplies and hopefully get a few hours of sleep before our scheduled pre-dawn departure the following morning at 5:30a. Some final minute purchases (ice, dry ice, etc) and a lot of baggage placement made, we were ready by 9:00p to head home for a few hours sleep before meeting back at Carlos' house to depart for the launch. I don't know about the others, but I can tell you I didn't get in much sleep before the alarm went off at 4:30a thanks to all the nervous energy and mental checklist review that I was dealing with in my head.
Day 1 (Thursday)
We actually launch right on time the following morning and are navigating under Key Biscayne bridge under the cover of total darkness with the exception of the nearly full moon that provided some minimal light before before the sun rose. In fact there was a period of time at sunrise where the moon had not set yet so we had views of the moon in the Northwest sky along with the sunrise coming from the East. It made for a pretty cool panoramic picture from my phone. The crossing was thankfully uneventful and it seemed like no time before I was seeing the lighthouse at Gun Cay on the horizon. I was excited to make my first crossing of the Bahama Bank as I had heard so many descriptions of it's expansive beauty... spoiler alert: it exceeded the hype. The only way I can describe the bank to those that haven't seen it yet is by telling them to imagine you have a swimming pool that spans thousands of square miles. The clarity was absolutely mesmerizing as we made our way towards Morgan's Bluff in North Andros to clear customs.
We pull into the harbor at Morgan's Bluff and after some minor confusion as to where to go, we began the process of checking in with customs. At first everything seems to be going well until my presence is requested by the customs official because she has never seen an American Passport Card. For those that don't know what it is either, you have the option of getting a passport card when you renew your passport that is usable via any land or sea port (but not air). It's an electronic smart card that any customs office that has been updated within the last decade can verify. That being said, this single wide trailer office in the port of Morgan's Bluff appeared to have survived (and possibly outlived) more than it's due time and as such, mine was the first passport card this official had ever laid eyes on. For those of you that have never seen one either, a passport card is a chip enabled smart card that you can get from U.S. Customs that can be used for international travel via land and sea (Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, etc). Thankfully, a phone call to the main office verified that my passport card was in fact real and as such, I was not forced to leave the country (which would have really sucked after boating across the Gulfstream and the Bahama Bank for the past 5-6 hours). After all these delays, we were looking forward to getting back underway. Luckily, we used some of the time required for customs to top off the boat with 75 gallons of fuel at the cash discount price of only $5.30 a gallon (what a bargain), so as soon as Captain Carlos and I were done dealing with customs, we were pushing off the dock and found ourselves back on track.
After spending way too much time clearing up non-issues with customs, we were off again ready to round the Northeast coast of Andros and begin our trek southward on the Tongue of the Ocean. I had heard how the seas on the Tongue of the Ocean could turn on a dime but surely that wouldn't happen today... there had been no signs of foul weather all the way to Morgan's Bluff. We had barely changed our heading southward before we began experiencing first hand the "fickle finger of fate" of maritime weather. It was no time at all before we were in 5-7' seas heading into the last leg of the journey. We break out the foul weather gear and huddle behind the console all the while hanging on to the t-top wherever we could grab hold while we attempted to navigate through the heavy seas with all eyes focused forward. So focused forward in fact, that by the time we got to the first break in the storm, none of us had noticed that one of our bean bags had flown out of the boat and was nowhere to be seen.
Seeing another storm approaching, we decided to head closer to shore to hopefully minimize the jostling that we had experienced up to now. As we approach the shore we notice a break ahead of us that usually means there is some type of shallow or shoal so we slow down and approach a little more cautiously. As we do, we notice that we are able to see the top of the reef we are approaching in the troughs of the break! For you non-mariners this basically meant we could run aground if we weren't able to navigate between the reefs. By now the seas behind us had built due to the storm coming in so backing out was only a last resort. We proceed with 4 eyes standing on the bow of the boat spotting the gaps in the reef and meticulously directing the driver in order to successfully make our way towards the shore. After a tense 20-30 minutes, we finally get past the break and are able to get back on plane to continue our travels with considerably smoother seas.
Thanks to all the delays, our projected 8-10 hour trip into South Andros was now looking like it would take 12-13 hours so we decided that we wouldn't sacrifice a dive day on our trip and stopped near North Bight for our first exposure to Andros diving and spearfishing. This was especially important since our plan was to catch our dinner each day (this one included) so if we didn't catch, it would be sandwiches for dinner and none of us wanted that. True to what we had heard, you could pick a spot at random and find good bottom and fish. We hadn't been in the water 5 minutes before a 40-50lb cubera snapper comes by and I unwittingly descend and give chase. I was able to get close enough for a view but not much else. The beast was impressive as a minor twitch of his tail leaves me behind, literally breathless. As I break the surface, my partners let me know that had I landed a shot on that behemoth that probably would have been the last I saw of my Riffe pole spear, in essence making it a $400 learning experience.
Very soon after Jorge bags the first fish of trip in the way of a nice hogfish and we spend the next 45 minutes landing the rest of our dinner... a yellowfin grouper, a Nassau grouper and a few more hogs. Not bad for 4 rookies in Androsian waters stopping at a random spot. We also did what we could to work on our filiming since all 3 divers would be wearing cameras. We definitely got some worthwhile footage. Unfortunately, we did have our first injury of the trip as Jorge gave himself a good sized gash in his ankle when he kicked a staghorn coral as he was retrieving his Nassau grouper. We knew it wouldn't slow him down and time would prove us right. Satisfied with our catch (but mostly running out of time) we pack up and finish our trip to Deep Creek where The Pointe Resort awaited our arrival.
We arrive at The Pointe Resort on Deep Creek and are welcomed by George, the proprietor of the establishment. We immediately setup a makeshift cleaning station to clean our catch for dinner where George assures us that everything will be taken care of for our meals. After cleaning the catch and ourselves, we meet up for dinner at the bar & grill which is next to the 6 room hotel, all of which was envisioned and created by George himself. As we sit down for dinner we're informed that we will have our catch deep fried, with sides of coleslaw, rice and mac and cheese. As we would find out however, this isn't your mom's mac and cheese. We were very happy to find that our fish was fried to near perfection with nary a dry bite in the meal. The piece de resistance however was in fact the mac and cheese that more closely resembled a mac and cheese lasagna. During dinner George regales us with stories of the history of Andros and its military significance to the United States. He also provides us with valuable insight on the proper approach into Deep Creek as there are no channel markers specifically for Deep Creek and there are some extremely shallow areas approaching inches in depth at low tide. Once finished with our meals (still wanting more but too full to continue), it was time to head to our rooms as we all needed some rest after a long day at sea and in preparation for day 2 of our adventure but not before I performed my daily duties of copying all the video footage to my laptop and making sure we had plenty of extra camera batteries charged and ready to go. I don't think any of us actually recall our heads hitting the pillows.
Day 2 (Friday)
Upon awaking Friday, we follow Carlos' plan for the first full day of diving and spearfishing as we head even further South towards what felt like the bottom of the Earth after all the time we spent getting where we were. However we are encouraged and rewarded for our intrepidity (and Carlos' plan) as the water is the clearest we've ever seen and we spot what was surely a 50lb grouper darting around the reef 60 feet below the boat. We even came across a small boiler, so we head over to see what type of fish is causing the commotion. As we approach, we realize we are seeing our first Triggerfish boiler, as hundreds of triggerfish are feverently feeding at the surface. The more we saw, the more excited we got, so we decide to make some warm up dives in slightly shallower water before heading to our final depths.
We jump in on our first spot in only about 20 feet. The water was incredibly clear but for some reason the shallower depth didn't hold as much activity as we had hoped. Being the deepest diver of the group, Carlos lets the rest of us jump in for some warm up dives and hopefully some warm up shots. We swim for what felt like quite some time without too many sightings. Finally, I spot a nice size grouper and give chase while trying not to chase it away. Unfortunately I wasn't the only one to spot the fish and suddenly there's three of us following the yellowfin grouper. Luckily, it holes up quickly and we start investigating the rock. Although the rock wasn't very big, the fish had hidden itself surprisingly well and it took a few looks before we located her. I drop and give it a shot, but my pole spear was just too long and I was never able to get the right angle to land the shot.
After a few more looks, Jorge finally lands what seemed to be a fairly solid shot with his Koah SideSling as the fish erupted in the hole and clouds of silt poured out of the crevices in the rock. We gave it a minute to calm down and then started to extract the fish when to our surprise it had somehow escaped without any of us spotting it in all the commotion. Knowing the fish had originally hid very well, we spent another 5-10 minutes examining the rock from all angles to see if it had maybe just found an even better hiding spot in there somewhere. Unfortunately, either the spot was too good or the fish made good its escape during the initial ruckus following Jorge's shot.
Disappointed but warmed up, we moved on to another area in about 50-60' of water. Almost immediately upon entering the water, we start to spot numerous Cubera Snapper in sizes ranging from 10-70 lbs. We referred to what we saw as "Wolf Packs" as they seemed to be running mostly in groups of 5 or 6. I tried my hand at a couple but I just didn't have the bottom time needed to coax these beasties in. For all my trying, I was only able to sneak up on one but I wasn't able to stick the shot. Fortunately for us, Carlos was in the zone. He would make his drop and sit "aspetto" on the bottom completely motionless waiting for the fish to get curious and get closer to him. It really was impressive to watch from above.
On one of his attempts, I watched as he sat motionless for what seemed like an eternity as the wolf pack in front of him kept drawing closer. As they came in Carlos attempted making the slightest movement to bring his sling around and the entire pack simultaneously made a single burst away from him, but luckily stayed close. He continued to remain motionless until the alpha of the group got a little too curious and a little too close. Carlos quickly draws the sling and releases, landing the shaft high on the back of the fish. The shaft stuck, but not enough to really hurt the fish. I gave chase from above hoping the fish would hole up but watched helplessly as the fish swam off with the 6 foot long sling shaft sticking out his dorsal, dragging it behind him like it was a toothpick in his back. Disappointing, but not totally unexpected. Cubera's are pound for pound one of the strongest snappers not to mention their scales are like armor plating when they get to these sizes. Luckily for Carlos his disappointment would be relatively short lived as he landed not one, but two Cubera Snappers in the 20-25lb range later this same day.
For me, day two was one of a lot of hard work as I was definitely not in the proper shape to dive the depths we needed to dive in Andros as we had drifted into 65-70 feet while chasing fish. Luckily for me, I was able to land a fatty Nassau Grouper on this day. I was spotting for Carlos as he descended to take a shot on one Nassau that was under a rock and as he descends, I spot another larger Nassau curiously peeking out over a large rock to our right. I grunted in efforts to direct Carlos at the larger fish, but my call went unnoticed. Carlos lands his Nassau and as he surfaces, I ask if he had noticed the other fish (hoping to get confirmation of its size). He lets me know that he had not and I quickly breathe up and drop on the fish. Luckily it was still in the same area and I was able to get the holding shot into it just as it was about to duck under the ledge. I wasn't too confident on the placement of the shot, so I surfaced to breathe up and make my second dive to retrieve what would be my personal best fish on pole spear in the way of about a 15lb Nassau Grouper. I was pretty exhausted and stoked.
Jorge was doing pretty well by practicing his "dive bomber" style of diving. Even though I was slightly over weighted as well, Jorge's descents were epic, barely kicking more then two or three times from the surface and plummetting to the bottom 50-65' below. Although Carlos was the only one to land any Cuberas, Jorge had been landing his fair share of fish on the trip from the first day, so I didn't feel I was in a position of "having" to land fish. This diving was exhausting for me (as I'm sure it was for them as well). I was doing my best to be a safe diving buddy since we were in such unfamiliar surroundings and we were all pushing ourselves. None of us wanted to leave with any regrets about what we "could'a, would'a, should'a" done but making sure we all get home was priority one. Fun is fun, but none of us wanted to be in a position to have to explain anything to any loved ones.
As the day went on, the water was colder than we anticipated (in the low 70's) and the overcast weather was not helping us keep warm. By the afternoon, my 1mm spring suit had pretty much lost all it's warming and I was starting to get chilled. I'm always the overpacker on every trip, but this time with the restricted space on board, I decided not to bring my 3 mil suit (I decision I was regretting at the moment). Both Carlos and I proclaimed that we wouldn't make this trip again without our 3 mil's. Fortunately, Carlos Sr. brought a 3 mil vest the he was willing to lend me which let me finish out the day without chipping any teeth from chattering. We decided to call it a day around 3p, still having a considerable ride back to the hotel as well as having a plethora of fish to clean (not to mention that we were just plain beat, too). As we head north to Deep Creek, we run into yet another storm and more heavy seas. The weather really hasn't been cooperating with us so far with the single exception of this morning when we left for our dive.
After having to clean our smaller catch of fish from yesterday on a makeshift cleaning station at the hotel (basically a piece of plywood on a brick wall), we decided we would stop at the abandoned naval installation to see if there was any way to clean our catch a little more comfortably as well as buy us some time for this storm to blow over. The good news is, that all situations can be made a little better with our secret recipe of desire, attitude, entertainment and BEER. We pull into the leeward side of the island where the abandoned naval installation is, and after taking a quick rest and a downing a couple of "secret ingredients", we get to work cleaning our catch. Never let it be said that we don't enjoy every aspect of our favorite pastime!
After cleaning our catch and making it back to the hotel, it's time for another night of copying tons of video footage and another great meal of fresh Cubera Snapper with that wonderful homemade mac n cheese. We were all pretty beat, but we were so hungry. Jorge and Carlos Sr. finished their meals first and immediately hit the hay. Carlos and I ate last and we made sure there were no leftovers of that mac n cheese. Once we finished that off, bellies full and bodies tired, we passed out too. It's amazing how well you sleep when you're that exhausted.
Day 3 (Saturday)
The next morning, we pack up our gear and belongings back onto the boat and bid our friends at the Pointe Resort farewell, because it's come time for the next leg of our epic journey. We were off towards Fresh Creek and the Lighthouse Hotel to the North. As we do on these trips, we fish our way to our destination. Today we would dive on some of the most incredible reefs I've ever seen. Probably between 50 and 70' to the sand, these reefs had easily 15-25' of relief. Truly beautiful formations to behold and a lot of fun to dive on. Unfortunately, this tremendous relief made for a difficult time catching any of our quarry because there were just too many nooks and crannies for the fish to disappear into. We spent a lot of time chasing fish into holes that seemed to never end.
We still got our fair share, but today would turn out to be my day with my personal best Mutton Snapper on simple gear polespear (no lines). We had heard that we would most likely be catching the beginning of the snapper spawn before coming on this trip, and yesterday we had seen incredible numbers of Cuberas. But today was Mutton day, and I was the lucky one. As we were patrolling the reef, we drifted into a deeper section where the top of the relief was sitting between 40-50'. All of a sudden, I spot a nice mutton and I give chase. I try not to pressure the fish by keeping some distance, but stay just close enough so I don't lose sight. I decide to make my move. While still swimming, I breathe up and make my descent. Unfortunately, it wasn't one of those picture-perfect vertical descents with the fish waiting lazily for me to close the gap at the bottom. No, I was coming from behind and burning oxygen while doing so.
I start to get closer and cock the polespear. Just as I'm closing the gap, the mutton I'm chasing meets up with 4 or 5 others but they're swimming towards him... and me. Thankful at the sight, I maintain my course and as I do, those fish close the gap on me. At the end of my breath, I pick the closest, biggest fish and let the polespear fly. The spear strikes home and the slip tip toggles perfectly. Now all I have to do is muscle this boy to the surface. Luckily for me as I'm nearing the surface, my sling stretches just enough for me to gasp a few quick breaths before putting my face back in the water and working my prize to the surface. A couple of shouts at the boat, and my personal best mutton on polespear is on the deck (and so is my exhausted body).
Once I had the mutton, I decided it was time for me to give the hawaiian sling another try. I've tried it before and it wasn't easy for me, but I decided I was going to let Carlos and Jorge show me the way because they had been exceptionally deadly with theirs on this trip. Like me, Carlos has the Hawaiian Sling from HawaiianSling.net (Ray Uppstrom). Jorge is partial to the Koah Side Sling. I guess you could say that one is like a bow and arrow (Uppstrom) and the other like a slingshot (Koah). Not in the sense of power, but rather in the way you they are designed to be held. I decided to stick with what I had myself and jump in the water with the Hawaiian Sling. After diving for a while, I see Jorge drop on a very nice hog. He takes his shot and the hogfish streaks off leaving a visible trail of blood behind it. I figured this was my best (and easiest) chance to give the sling a try so I follow the fish and descend as soon as it comes to a stop. As I'm dropping, I draw the sling, line up the shot, release... and BAM! my personal best hogfish on sling. It's not like it was maneuvering or anything, but I felt good.
So after another great day of fishing, it was time to make way to the Lighthouse Hotel on Fresh Creek so we could check in for the night and refuel (which we hadn't done since our stop in Morgan's Bluff on Day 1). So we head in once again through rain, but at least this time it's only a light drizzle. We take our requisite fish pictures on the boat and arrive with enough daylight to refuel and check in. We head over to the gas station that sits on the same inlet as the hotel and we inquire about refueling. We're advised that the price will be $6.00 a gallon, which hurt, but the worst part was that there wasn't a hose long enough to reach the boat on the water. We would have to refuel by carrying 5 gallon gas jugs about 200' between the pump and the boat. Luckily they were able to scrounge up about 5 jugs and a couple of locals to lend a hand, but it was still 120 gallons, 5 gallons at a time (that's 24 fills and pours for the non mathletes in the crowd). Even with our makeshift paper funnel, we spilled some of the fuel and by the time we were done, the smell of $720.00 of gasoline was pretty strong on the boat and on us. But there would be no griping on this trip. The good news was that we were topped off! And we would be able to confidently fish our way home tomorrow, and any day we can fish, is a good one.
Tonight however, there would be no fresh fish prepared by a hospitable hotel staff (the Lighthouse was, shall we say... a little more self-service). We would have to make other arrangements for dinner and after showering extensively to get rid of the smell of fuel, we gathered in the lobby where we awaited our transportation to a local restaurant "Hank's Crab Fest". While we waited in the lobby, we met another adventurous soul that was sailing solo from Fort Lauderdale to Nassau, and he subsequently asked if we minded him joining us. "Of course" we concurred. We're sure that the transportation the hotel arranged would be able to accommodate one more. Surely a limo taxi would be arriving to take us to our destination... Ok, maybe just a taxi... how about a 1979 two tone Hunter Green Ford pickup? Hey, I said no griping. After a side splitting laugh and a round of roshambo for the front seat (loser went up front), we were on our way.
Upon our arrival at Hank's we are seated waterside (ok, all the tables are pretty much waterside) along with our first actual glimpse of the sun since rounding the horn at North Andros just after leaving Morgan's Bluff. We were so happy to see the sun, even if it was just about to set. We enjoyed good food, good beer, great company and even greater stories before heading back to the hotel. Once again, some time on the laptop to clear everyone's GoPro memory cards, and shortly after, it was good night to all. We planned to leave before dawn and after our 3rd straight day of travel and spearfishing, we all needed a good night's rest before embarking on our final leg of the trip tomorrow. Tomorrow would be north to Chub, hang a left and head for home. A mere 160-180 miles or so... cake walk.
Day 4 (Sunday)
We leave the Lighthouse Hotel well before dawn because our plan for the day was to make it all the way to Chub Cay with enough time to fish and make the final leg home before dark. As we discussed the plan, we said we would fish a few hours in Chub and be out of there by 11:30a so we could be home well before dark since we would have a lot of cleaning, unloading and unpacking to do once we got there. You know what they say about the "best laid plans"... The weather had finally turned the corner (of course it had, we were leaving) since last night at Hank's, and the ride to Chub was smooth and quick. We arrived in the waters around Chub around 9:30a giving us the "planned" couple of hours of diving before departing for home.
We suit up and jump in. On my first descent (actually my first ascent), I know it's going to be a short dive day for me. My reverse block hadn't bothered me on the entire trip but today was the day. After a couple of (unsuccessful) tries, I decided to call it a trip and avoid further hearing loss (I was overdue for my captain duties anyway). So I jump back on the boat and Carlos Sr. joins Carlos and Jorge in the water. The spearfishing started out a little slow, up to now we had only chased one big black that ultimately eluded us in a hole, but that would change soon enough.
After a short while, I see Jorge swimming off very quickly. Carlos and Carlos Sr. were staying together so I figured I should stay a little closer to Jorge who was getting a little too separated for my liking. Before I get too close, I see him invert and descend. On hist first ascent, he lets me know that he's got a nice Yellowfin Grouper holed up, so I let the other divers know and I stay close. A couple of dives and one circular sling shaft later, Jorge has boated his very nice yellowfin. I proceed to spend the next 30-45 minutes straightening out what was thought to be an un-salvageable sling shaft for him. After a couple more dives, Jorge decides to call it a day too and boards the boat. We figured we were pretty close to calling it a day anyway. It was now closer to noon and we had a long trek ahead of us.
Unbeknownst to us however, Carlos had holed up a huge Black Grouper and was working the fish with his dad, Carlos Sr. This worked out terribly well for Carlos Sr. because the commotion from working this grouper in that hole would ultimately draw in 2 very nice fish that he was able to land. Carlos Sr. has been doing this for most of his life and he showed his experience today when he was able to land a beautiful Hog and a fatty Nassau Grouper in over 50'. He had been patient as to when and where he would dive on this trip and it paid off in spades for him today. The day was getting exciting but it was getting close to that time where we really needed to leave.
Carlos continued to work the Black Grouper but it had settled far into the back of a relatively small hole and this really limited Carlos' angles of attack. He continued to try and get the right angle for a sling shot to no avail. He switched to polespear but it was just too long. We're now probably an hour into this fish and even Carlos is getting exhausted but he was still determined. He finally asks for my Lionfish polespear. I had brought it on the trip for the single purpose of eliminating as many of these nuisance fish as we could. This polespear is only 3' long and has a simple trident 3 prong style tip. Nothing you would ever normally consider for a big Black, but he was running out of time and options and he figured it was the only weapon short enough to give him the angle. As he tells it, he shined his flashlight on the fish and lined up the shot with the tiny polespear. He let it fly, but with such a small sling, it wasn't going to penetrate too much. Before the fish could shake it off however, he grabs the end of the polespear and shoves it the rest of the way through the fish. With such an injury, he was sure the fish was his. He waited for the dust to settle and was able to successfully wrestle the 23lb Black Grouper out of the hole. Quite the feat with a 3' Lionfish polespear!
By now, it was closing in on 1:30p and it was truly time for us to get going. So after the requisite jubilation and picture taking, we got underway and broke out the last of the beer and coldcuts for the trip home. As was the case with our initial crossing of the Bahama Bank, the ride was very pleasant. The ride across the bank is the part of the trip where you can make up some time because you're not taking a beating and you can down the throttles a little more without the same gas cost you incur in heavy seas. Once we got past Bimini, it changed a little. We had a steady 15-20mph NW wind so there was a constant 2-4' swell for most of the trip. Thankfully, it was following seas and the period was far enough apart that we weren't stuffing the bow too often so we were able to make decent progress. By the time we go to Virginia Key, it was probably close to 6:00p (maybe a little later). We docked at Key Biscayne Marina and I was instantly reminded of everything I hate about public ramps in South Florida.
It was apparently a very popular day to be out on the water because every yahoo that had a boat was jamming up the ramps at the marina. We had to help a couple of people that were actually having trouble getting their boats out of the water and help a couple more that were having trouble getting underway just so we could have our turn at getting out. It was a madhouse and I was absolutely certain I would be reading about some of the people that were there in the paper the following day... and not in a celebratory way, more of an obituary way. Some of the things I saw truly scared me (and I had just returned from a 4 day fishing trip from basically the middle of nowhere). People with infants heading out on (crappy) boats late in the day without proper safety equipment and that didn't have enough boating knowledge to even realize how they were jeopardizing not only their own lives but those of their children as well. I was glad to get out of there.
By the time we pulled out of the marina and drove back to Carlos' house, it was almost dark and we spent another couple of hours cleaning gear, the boat and the catch. We were all regretting having to go to work tomorrow, but at least we would have enough story fodder to hold us over for a good while. We had a great trip and I can't wait for our next adventure. Life is short, make it worth living.