Sunday, December 12, 2010

Out to Sea With a Paddle

Yesterday afternoon we decided to go fishing from the boat.  Melissa's parents are in town and they decided to come along.  Fred & Cindy here at the park have been nice enough to let us borrow their 16' boat while we've been in the Keys and I got the boat and fishing gear together while everyone got ready.

The boat's motor has been having a little difficulty lately but started right up and away we went.  The plan was to anchor on the down-current side of the new Bahia Honda bridge in the middle of the channel and drop our lines.  We got to our spot and realized that the only anchor in the boat had a rope that was too short for the current.  Change of plans, we'll cut the engine and drift in the 3 knot current until we near the old Bahia Honda bridge about 1/4 mile away.  We did this a couple of times and on the last restart the starter took a couple of tries to catch and turn the engine.  We motored over to the new bridge and started another float.  When I went to start the engine this time, the starter would whir but wouldn't engage the motor flywheel (which turns the engine to start it.)  We tried to restart several times while quickly floating toward the old bridge with no luck.  Thankfully we were pushed through in the middle of a span and didn't have to worry about hitting the bridge.

So we're being pushed out into the Atlantic Ocean without a motor, next stop Cuba.  After a bit of indecisiveness and discussion the plan is to not try to use the trolling motor battery to start the engine, it would take too long to set up and Melissa's dad pointed out that the lights weren't dimming when we tried to start the engine - it might not be a dead battery but something else wrong.  After a couple of attempts to unlock and drop the trolling motor we got it down and running and started to cut across the current with the trolling motor and a paddle providing power.  The original plan was to do a sunset fishing outing, so by this time the sun has set, it's dark, and we're about a mile from where we started.  We finally got out of the current on the back side of the island and then started our run up against the shore to try to get back under the old bridge to the marina.  With the trolling motor on its highest setting and the paddle pushing we barely made it up-current through the bridge into more protected waters.

The trip back to the marina took over an hour but we all made it back safe and sound.  While Melissa got a bite from a critter big enough to take all of the line from her reel and snap it at the end we ended up not landing any fish.  C'est la vie.


  1. That brings back not so fond memories of a similar problem in the keys. We'd been diving, I was seasick (really bad) the motor quit while coming back in. While trying to start the motor up again, we drifted into water too deep to throw the anchor. Lesson learned, always have enough anchor line to reach the bottom and throw it immediately if a problem occurs!

    We were unable to get in and fortunately a passing freighter called the coast guard for us and we were rescued right at dark. I have no doubt we would have sunk overnight. We learned a lot of valuable lessons that night.

    I'm glad your trip turned out okay, you could have really been in trouble out there in a 16 foot boat.

  2. Wow!! I'm not much of a "sailor", and I would have been curled up in the fetal position praying...Glad it turned out OK...Good 'ol Ma Nature can just bite ya in a hurry!! Wish we were at the Keys with ya....Only been there once, but loved them!!