Crab Pots on the Way to the Florida Keys

Author:
Updated:
Original:

I bought Caesar’s Ghost, my Gemini MC105 catamaran, 10 years ago at the age of 75, and have had many adventures during various trips from Massachusetts to the Bahamas and back. This year, my annual trip to Hope Town in the Bahamas would be different, thanks to an added side excursion—Key West, here we come! Gigi, my daughter, and I flew down from New England to commission and provision Caesar’s Ghost, which was stored ashore at a boatyard in Stuart, Florida.

dianaCeasar

The plan was to take off for a week’s sailing in the Florida Keys before meeting my male crew, who would make the Gulf Steam crossing to the Bahamas with me. As I have reached my dotage, I always opt for youngish male muscle (any age under 80) when I cross the Stream. Gigi has crewed for me many times on coastal passages.

Thanks to Caesar’s Ghost’s shoal draft, Gigi and I had a good sail down the protected but shallow Florida Bay side of the Keys, followed by a rollicking time in Key West, as the sights are provocative and the town is a partying place.

Now, on a hot windless day, Gigi and I are motoring up the Hawk Channel for the crew change in Ft. Lauderdale. This is the ocean side of the Florida Keys and runs between the keys and outer reef. Again, with the shallow draft of my boat, I like to run close to shore for what I call the “real estate tour,” forgetting that this is where the crabbers put most of the pots. Of course, I snag a pot on the propeller. This means we have to lower the dinghy from its davits and raise the engine’s drive leg, whereupon Gigi has to hop into the dinghy and saw the line off the prop—no easy task, as residual line stays wedged in and requires strength and finesse to remove.

About an hour later, we are on our way again, only to snag another pot a half an hour after that. The whole process repeats. By this time daughter is beginning to register a bit of pique with mother. Our shifts on the helm are one hour on and one hour off, and she never snags a pot on her watch.

We finally reach the Channel Five passage back into the Florida Bay side of the Keys and I promise to be eagle-eyed from now on. However… I meander out of the channel, and we gently come to a halt with one rudder stuck in the mud. I have been heading for what Gigi says is a red channel marker, but which turns out to be a small boat with a red sail.

“Hop out and push us off,” I command.

“It’s so yucky!”

“Here, use my beach shoes.”

Soon we are in deep water again, but as I start the engine a terrible racket ensues. We peer over the transom to see a portion of the drive leg dropping into the water, with the rest in danger of following. The gentle grounding could not have caused this; I am convinced it was the trauma of snagging two crab pots that had weakened the sacrificial yoke on the drive leg and the grounding was the final straw. This sacrificial yoke is my boat’s $600 equivalent of an outboard’s shear pin!

We tie the remaining portions of the drive leg to the boat with a cobweb of lines, call TowBoatUS, and are towed to a safe anchorage for the night. Next morning, because the local boatyards have no room, we are towed again to a distant boatyard in Key Largo. Hours later we are tied to a bulkhead awaiting repairs, and Gigi makes her escape back to work in the north. Her parting comment: “Mom, it’s not so bad, you’re still on your boat, you could be in a home.”

Diane Hunter lives on Cape Cod. She has owned a succession of shoal-draft boats, starting with a Marshall 18 catboat and culminating in her Gemini 105MC cat, which she regularly sails between Florida and the Bahamas

MHS Fall 2015

Related

GMR19_F53_0539

Boat Review: Beneteau First Yacht 53

Luxury performance-cruising isn’t entirely new. You can go fast and still be comfortable. You can even race if you make the right tradeoffs—or so says Groupe Beneteau, which recently launched its First Yacht 53, in the process also reinventing the company’s “First” brand. ...read more

BirdonBoard

Cruising: Birds of a Feather

One of the neatest things about sailing offshore is the other lifeforms we encounter. We smile when we see flying fish skimming over the surface of the sea. We cheer when dolphins leap and dance in our bow waves. We are duly reverent when mighty whales sound and spout, and ...read more

pirate-marlin-logo

Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournament

This Spring has felt a bit like a slow day of fishing but it’s almost time to time to Bait…and Switch. The Pirate’s Cove Billfish Tournaments offer something for every member of your crew. Exceptional fishing, fun times with family, old friends and new. Our run is short, our ...read more

Tusk.00_00_16_21.Still001

Tusk by Spyderco

Spyderco's Tusk knife combines a blade and marlinspike to create a multitool perfect for marine use. Made with corrosion resistant materials like titanium and LC200N steel, a nitrogen alloyed steel, and Spyderco-exclusive locking mechanisms, this knife is one of the toughest ...read more

IY11.98_fTaccola©DJI_0200

Italia 11.98 Performance-cruiser

This past winter, SAIL principal editor, Adam Cort, check out the new Italia Yachts’ new 11.98 performance-cruiser at the boot Dusseldorf show in German, and says he can attest to the fact it’s a boat more than worthy of the attention of North American sailors. Available in ...read more

01-LEAD-2017_IDALEWIS_0219

Racing: Doublehanded

I was born in 1955, and although I was a tad young to actually follow the first Observer Single-Handed Transatlantic Race, I grew up in the age of the pioneers of solo offshore sailing—Francis Chichester, Robin Knox-Johnson, Alec Rose, all Knighted for their singlehanded ...read more

newport-400c-updated

Spectra Watermakers

The world's quietest and most energy-efficient watermakers. Our product line ranges from hand operated desalinators that can make 6 gallons a day to our largest system that produces 20,000 gallons of fresh, potable water per day. Spectra Watermakers has the complete package: ...read more

CAPE-COD---Under-sails

Boat Review: Cape Cod

The concept of “daysailer” has grown ever broader over the years. These days the label can be pasted on a boat as small and simple as a Sunfish, as fancy as a 40-footer with a nice big cockpit and plenty of brightwork, or any number of concoctions in between. This Cape Cod ...read more