We have a few days on our own before Scott’s sister, Heather and her hubs Joe, join us for a couple weeks. It’s so exciting to share this adventure with family and friends. They arrive in Fort Lauderdale, rent a car and drive the 3 hours to Marathon. We had a lot of windy days but we’re still able to take in a few days on the ocean in the Mother Ship, Heliopause. Scott and Joe spent some time learning about salt fishing and picked up some chum. If you chum they will come is the motto here and come they did. The chum is to attract the little fish that attract the large fish. We headed out to cast and reel in some dinner. The chum comes in a box about the size of 2 bricks and frozen. You place it in a “net Bag” and let it defrost in the water as the food melts and feeds the fish. There were so many little ones. They caught a puffer fish, fully puffed, yellowtails, a remora, and some other small sizes. A couple swallowed the hook and could not be saved. So Scott put it on the line instead of the shrimp they had been using. One bite, then 2, then 3 and whizzzzz went the line. As the fish jumped out of the water it turned out to be a shark about 6 ft long. Scott kept trying to let it run but the 250 ft line was quickly running even with the tension being torqued. He got off the line. When Scott reeled it in not only was the fish gone but the hook was now straight.
On another day we went out to Sombrero Reef to snorkel. This reef is the 3rd largest reef in the world. I ended up breaking my toe after it was caught under the mooring line to hold the boat. No snorkeling for me. Heather and Scott headed out and saw so many types of fish and coral. Stunning coloured turquoise blue water with a multitude of yellows, oranges, purples. The winds started to pick up after lunch so we headed back to the marina. The fellas decided to try their luck at trolling on the way back. After a couple hours of this we were ready to give up when the line started. Scott manouvered the boat while Joe reeled in whatever it is on the line. Joe reeled it in enough that Scott could jump from the helm, grab the gaf and grab the fish. Heather wins when she yelled tuna. A blackfin tuna on the deck, 11 lbs. There is dinner for the night.
There was a lot of pickleball, sunning by the pool, table shuffleboard and sightseeing. Key West was a treat. My toe was still really sore and thanks to One Eye Dog and their help I secured a “boot” from April and Larry to make it through the next week. We were able to walk around and snap photos of the iconic buoy at the southernmost point of the USA, the Truman area, Duvall Street, and many other sights. We are not much of the party scene so the trip took about 4 hours.
On another day we headed up to Islamorada and stopped at The Bass Pro Shop. Roosters and chickens with their young were everywhere. These Key West roosters live here in The Keys like squirrels do back in our hometown. They are everywhere clucking and doodling in the most random areas. Add that to the iquanas, pelicans, seabirds and water critters too. Here in this Bass Pro there is a restaurant and bar, as well as feeding the Tarpon. Tarpon are large 100 lb plus fish with mouths on the top of their heads. They stare at you looking for food and can make a suction sound when getting the shrimp you buy to feed them. No, they are not interested in your french fries from the table. After having a really good marguerita, feeding tarpons and wandering the store we stop for dinner on the waterfront patio. Food is okay but not great. We rarely eat out so this is a treat any way you look at it. It was so windy at the boat and it is sheltered here.
During their stay we were making some large purchases for The Bahamas trip. Our boat has no outdoor storage for any lines, fenders, propane tanks or anything you need to live on it. So we picked up some dock boxes from West Marine. They came in while Joe and Heather visited. We would have rented a car but Larry from One Eye Dog was kind enough to drive the mile to West Marine and pick them up, in 2 separate trips. The first is a 6 ft long box. Larry was not worried about putting the box on the top of the roof of the car. They strapped it down and off they came to the marina. The site was more than funny seeing the box on the top of the car and then carting it back to the boat with the 2 of them on each side. Thank goodness the small one fit in the back seat. Then came the paddleboards or sups. We decided on hard ones rather than the inflatable only because the areas we will go with them will have sharp shells and coral. We think they fit nicely on the bow of Heliopause.
We thank Heather and Joe for all the help getting Heliopause ready for the Bahamas and can’t wait to share more time next year.