Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bass Fishing, A Change Of Pace In The Keys

Wind Blown For Many Days Now, Time To Change up The Target Species
The wind has been blowing 10 -15, 15 -20 for the last week or so and although it's good for sailing, it is not conducive to Back Country fishing. Well, since I have been sailing quite often recently, a friend of mine and me  decided that if we want to fish, we would have to change the type of fish being targeted and the location in which we normally fish. After speaking with my friend, we decided to hit the Mainland and do some Bass fishing, freshwater and out of the wind. We did quite well on the Bass, catching several, we even had a few shots at Peacock Bass but apparently did not have the preferred bait or lures. In addition to the Bass we caught a few Oscar's, you know, the type sold in pet stores for people's aquariums.
As usual, photos will follow, BTW all fish caught were released unharmed.
Nice little Bass on light tackle

You can see  why they call them Large Mouth


Friday, March 29, 2013

Hammer Point, Great Horned Owls

Hammer Point Great Horned Owl Update
If you have followed my Posts regularly, you will remember that a family of Great Horned Owls (a male and female) moved into the neighborhood back in October. After living in a Palm tree for many weeks,  they made their move and evicted a pair of Ospreys from their nest, so basically, the Owls waited for the Ospreys to do all the work then they moved in with a vengeance.

The Hammer Point Horned Owl Perps

Expectant Mother, laying low
 Not too long after the occupation, two baby Horned Owls were born, which for the longest time were just two white balls of fluff, now as you see from these most recent pictures,  they have started to develop light brown plumage, for which these birds are know. 
Baby Great Horned Owls

Patiently waiting for their next meal

Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)
MEASUREMENTS: The Great Horned Owl has a body length of 18 - 25 inches, a wingspan up to 5 feet, and weighs 2 - 5 pounds.
Great Horned Owl habitat mapHABITAT: Great Horned Owls are found in a wide variety of wooded habitats, including forests, swamps, deserts, rocky areas, farmland, and urban areas from sea level to 12,000 feet, throughout much of North and South America.
DIET: This owl eats a variety of small to medium mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, insects, and occasionally carrion if other food is scarce. Great Horned Owls hunt at dusk and during the night from a perch, while flying low over the ground, walking on the ground, or wading into water.
REPRODUCTION: Great Horned Owls nest in other birds’ stick nests, natural tree hollows, man-made platforms, or on cliff ledges or cave entrances. The female usually lays 1 - 3 eggs that are incubated for 26 - 35 days. The young birds start to wander away from the nest in 6 - 7 weeks, but don’t fully learn to fly until about 10 - 12 weeks of age. The fledglings are tended by the parents for up to 5 months. This owl typically matures in 2 years.
NAME DERIVATION: The scientific name comes from the Latin word bubo, which refers to an owl, and the Latinized name for the state of Virginia, where the first specimen was taken for scientific collection. The common name refers to the large size of the bird and the feather tufts on its head. This owl has also been called Big Hoot Owl, Cat Owl, Chicken Owl, Eagle Owl, Horned Owl, and King Owl.
  • The Great Horned Owl is referred to as “the tiger of the sky” because of its fierce nature and ability to capture a wide variety of prey that may be larger or heavier than the owl. The Great Horned Owl is one of the few species that occasionally preys on skunks.
  • In humid habitats, the plumage of this owl tends to be darker brown, whereas in arid areas the Great Horned Owl may be lighter in color. This is a typical plumage color trend in many animals.
Great Horned Owl flying
Great Horned Owl
Great Horned Owl fledgling
Great Horned Owl

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Trout fishing in the Florida Keys

Caught a great Trout today
While out fishing with my friend Captain Dave Perkins, I caught what appears to be the biggest Trout of the year. 23 1/2 " measured at the boat when caught,  It actually had a six inch fish in its stomach. I am looking forward to baking this fish for tomorrow nights dinner.
Dave and I snuck out to the Back Country when the wind subsided this afternoon, we finally returned to the dock after dark. Dave lost a very nice Red fish earlier in the day and we caught several Lady fish after that but never hooked up with any other Reds.

Trout caught on a Gulp Ghost Shad
No, I'm not Muslim, it is protection from the sun
This Trout had just ingested a six inch bait fish, greedy guy then went after my lure.

Great day on the Florida Bay with Captain Dave Perkins

Monday, March 25, 2013

Lola and the Dolphin

My friend, Capt'n Dave Perkins has a Dachshund named Lola, who goes everywhere with him. Recently, while on a charter Lola got a chance to bond with one of the many Dolphins that live in the Florida Bay. Dave caught this action on his I-phone camera, pretty cool.

Incidentally, Dave and his Charter caught some great fish while in the Back Country.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Update From The "Last Overnight"...Late entries

Late entries from Roland's Camera
Here a few more pictures of our overnight, courtesy of Roland Barth aboard IBIS.
Becalmed  in the heat of the day,
luckily, the wind picked in about an hour

Seeking shade any way you can

My PUFFIN, foreground
Davy in the background coming through Stake Key Cut

Chilling after the sail out to Manatee Key

Somebody else had the same idea


Last Overnight Of The Winter

Final Overnight for the 2013 winter

Thursday and Friday was the last scheduled overnight for my Catboat friends and me, Roland will be packing up and leaving for Maine next week and Davy will be making some changes to his Catboat before he heads out to West Va. for the summer.

We left Thursday about 11:00 to meet up with Davy, who had to sail about seven miles to join us for the sail out to Manatee Key, where we chose for our overnight anchorage. The wind was light out of the SE and eventually died out completely, for about an hour, before it picked up again. The temperature was in the eighties so it became a little uncomfortable for me, I don't have a Bimini top to protect me from the heat of the day. I know, you up there in the North are saying," you poor soul, while you are basking in the sun, we are freezing our arses off". I know this because I talked with Paul Smith during the cruise and he gave me a weather report for the Brick Town area, needless to say, he wishes he was still in the Keys.

We anchored off Manatee Key and organized our boats for the night, we rafted up and went aboard Roland's boat for cocktails and dinner, after which we sat around talking about the winter of sailing, how the boats performed and what we have planned for the summer back home. Eventually the time to get below and put up our mosquito netting, before the little pests descended on us. As always, everyone brought some reading material to pass the time until the Sandman arrives. Lights out at 8:30 for me, then up again at 4:00 to read some more before falling back to sleep.

Friday, we all decide to put in a reef, the weather report was calling for 15KT. winds, it always blows harder than they predict, for some reason. We went through manatee cut and by the time we got out into the open sea, we were glad that a reef was in place. Two foot seas and a wind on the nose made for some great sailing,  until a squall line appeared in the distance, as luck would have it, we were heading right into it's path.. Erring on the side of caution, we ducked in the Lee of another Key and had lunch. The Squall eventually dissipated and we were once again sailing toward home. I chose to sail half way to Davy's port while Roland, who was expecting his wife form Boston, sailed home. After all was said and done, I came in to our harbor just a few minutes after Roland arrived, Roland's course caused him to make many tacks, he was heading directly into the wind, on the other hand I was able to make just two very long tacks that allowed me to make up some time.

I have provided a chart showing our various courses both days and the location of the Keys that we visited.

Click on a picture once it enlarges, twice for a close up.

Legend of trip courses
Black, Davy to meet us
Turquoise, me to Davy
Magenta, Roland to Bottle Key
Red, all out to manatee Key for the night
Orange, all back to Bottle Key then home
Rust, Roland home
Yellow, Davy and me
Green, Davy home
Light Blue, me home

Roland, goodbye Florida Bay, until next year
Heading toward Stake Key
Davy, "who's better than us"?
Roland, seeking shelter, during the Doldrums
A chance encounter of an "Old School Outward Bound Pulling Boat"
Those aboard for a six day adventure were a group of Prep School student's from Texas
Sharing an anchorage with an Outward Bound group
Shoal off Bottle Key

Check out that water color


Monday, March 18, 2013

Snook Party, 2013/St. Patrick's Day

Capt'n Dave and Pat Leahy's Snook Party
Each year, about this time, Pat and Capt''n Dave Leahy host a dinner to commemorate a Snook Contest that was recently held. The grand affair is held at the Leahy's dockside deck and attracts thirty five to forty fishermen and women who have sought the elusive Snook, a fish native to the Florida Keys. This year I was fortunate to receive an invitation to this popular event, however, I was not a contender for the biggest or smallest Snook caught, I never even saw one this year.

Captain Dave Perkins with a nice Snook!/daveperkins8?fref=pb

The party started at 4:00 in the afternoon with appetizers and cocktails, each guest was requested to bring a dish to the party, to be shared with the other guests. My contribution was a Potato Salad, my mother's recipe, and a fine batch of homemade Almond Brittle. I am proud to say that the Brittle did not last long, it seemed to be quite popular as it disappeared within minutes after it was placed on the desert table. After the appetizer and cocktail hour came an array of great Entrees that different individuals brought. There was Corned Beef and Cabbage (St. Patrick's Day), Battered Snapper, Popcorn Shrimp, assorted Casseroles to name just a few, more food than you could imagine. Now it was time for desert, Homemade Cookies, Brownies, Cakes and my Almond Brittle, treats that satisfied even the most discriminating sweet tooth.

The Party now turned to the Master of Ceremonies, Capt;n Dave to recognize those who were fortunate enough to catch a Snook and if you were the one who caught the biggest, you were rewarded with one of the great prizes that adorned the awards table. One problem, with so many gifts to give out for the Snook catchers, only three Snook were actually caught during the whole contest. Capt'n Dave, the consumate MC, now had to be more creative than ever in his award presentations, party goers, who never expected to go home with an award, were now given their choice of one of the great prizes that were left on the table. Everyone was a winner tonight.

The evening ended on a very posiive note, the food was great, prizes were terrific, everyone was happy and the Hosts were the best. I can't wait until next year, I hope I get invited back and  especially hope that there is a price winning snook in my future.

The following Slideshow contains pictures that were taken at last night's Party, the music is Irish, after all is was St. Patrick's Day. Look for the one picture that shows that Capt'n Dave is truly Irish clear down to his Butt.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Welcome aboard "Puffin"

With two reefs tucked in, the winds on the Bay today were tamed. 15-18 SE with puffs to 20. Little did we know that the sail home would be 20-25, still manageable on these salty little boats.
Two reefs, just right.

A walk aroud Nest Key

A look at Nest Key from ashore
Paradise Found

Seabean arrives, lunch on the beach at Nest Key

With the arrival of Rick and Mary aboard Seabean, we'll have lunch on the beach, talk awhile then sail home. Little did we know that the winds were going to pipe up to the tune of 20-25 Kts. for the trip home. Double reefs all around if you please.

Roland arriving at Nest Key

Everglades National Park

The Everglades
Great sailing and fishing
Here are two charts/maps of the Everglades National Park system. The one map showing the Butternut Keys is right in our backyard, our sailing and fishing grounds.

You can see from the maps the size of our sailing area, the Florida Bay

Another visit to Nest Key

A Meeting Place In The Everglades National Park
Each winter, either by myself or with other sail boaters, I sail out to Nest Key to appreciate the natural beauty of the Florida Bay and the Everglades National Park. Since this is one of the only Keys in the Park that you can actually walk on, it is a popular destination. During the summer months you can find large numbers of boaters anchoring and enjoying the warm water and sandy beach, during the winter months, however, there is not much in the way of visitors as you can see by my photos.
The sail out from my community harbor is about six miles, taking any where from an hour and a half to two hours, depending upon the wind and water conditions. Today, with the wind blowing between 15 and 20 Kts, with two reefs we made it in an hour and a half. The trip back, a bit more challenging, presented us with winds reaching upwards of 25Kts. with seas running about one to two feet.
Making the sail today was Roland Barth, aboard his Marshall Sanderling Ibis, Mary Cahill and Rick Beeman aboard their Sandpiper Seabean and me sailing my Sanderling Puffin.

Sea bean


Ibis, Puffin and Sea bean

Fiftieth Anniversary flag of the Catboat Association, on a Pig Stick at the top of my mast

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Restoration Of A Marshall Sanderling Catboat

Restoration of a Marshall Sanderling
A syndicate of some sort has taken on the project of restoring a Marshall Sanderling here in the Keys. The four owners found a Sanderling in need of some TLC and after some fine negotiations, were able to acquire the boat in "as is" condition. The next step was to find a shop here in the Keys that was up to the task of restoring a 1980 Catboat, built in South Dartmouth, Mass. Well, as luck would have it,  there happens to be just the right Yacht yard here in Tavernier, the deal was made and reconstruction began in earnest a few months ago. Today, myself and two other Sanderling owners visited the project and found some amazing work had been accomplished, new rub rails and handrails, new cockpit sole, transom replaced, bottom paint removed, hull and deck painted with Awlgrip and the port lights replaced.
The boat will sport the new name, "Usual Suspects", a ceremony un-naming the boat will be preformed then a boat naming ceremony will follow. This will be the second time I have been to such a ceremony, I guess it's a Keys thing. No matter,  the little vessel looks great and I'm sure that the new owners will have many great hours sailing on the Florida Bay.
Pictures anyone?
New Transom

Teak work and new cockpit sole

Fresh coat of  Awlgrip paint and teak rub rails

View from aft, in the cockpit

New handrails and teak cabin trim

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Changing Winds for a couple of day's then back to normal

West, Northwest, then Northerly for a couple of day's
It looks like we are in Port until Thursday afternoon, fair winds for the end of the week and he weekend, hooray!  Maybe an overnight is in our future.

March Maddness

A chance meeting
Spring is coming to the Keys and with it brings some of the best weather to sail on Florida Bay. Yesterday on the Bay it looked like a scene from Martha's Vineyard, four Catboats out for a day sail, not planned but yet somehow we all managed to come together for a picture OP.

Catboats on the Bay, a spontaneous meeting

Charlie and Salee aboard "A-Lee"

Roland was out with our friend and Catboat owner, Davy, Charlie and Salee were out in their Menger, I was sailing my "Puffin" and Rick Beeman and Mary Cahill  were cruising around in their Sandpiper, "Sea Bean". It was a perfect breeze, twelve Kts. from the SE, earlier predictions had called for light and variable winds. In an environment like this, to see all these Gaff Rigs and not another sailboat in sight is truly amazing.

Roland and Davy, Roland is checking out my rig

"Ibis" approaching to Starboard

With the fair conditions  I was able to go fishing in the morning, sail in he afternoon and then do the Canals in our neighborhood at sunset, in my Flats Boat. Great sunset to end an awesome day on the water.

Next on the list of sails are a couple of overnights to the Back country, hopefully we'll have about four boats participating in this activity.