Well... Boss man is done with our local part of the season. Enough kings, sails, small dolphin, and bonitos to call it a year. So that means its time for me to ready Mirage for another three or so months in the islands. In keeping with tradition i will out line the steps we take to get ready for extended stay. For many, this is a bit repetitive and pretty much common sense. For others it might serve as a guide for things they might not have thought of. Then again although I'm starting this thread about how "we do it", nowhere would I ever make a claim this is the only way or even the best way. I welcome any input you guys can bring. This thread runs so long I often miss important things that should have been added...
What we do to some seems like overkill but bottom line here is that the islands are a wonderful place but you need to go with this in mind... If you don't have it... you can't get it there!!!
Each year I start with different things. This year we started with the engines... We did a turbo rebuild, turbo sleeve replacement, and cleaned our iner coolers. We put a few hours on them fishing local to make sure all was good there. Do you need to do this? My answer would be no but you do want your power to be in tip top shape. That leads into the next steps we took. We did a double oil change... Double? What that means is we change it then run a few minutes and then change again. This ensures we get the older really cruddy oil out and start as clean as we can.
We then paint the engines... Not so they look pretty but so we can see if we have any fresh oil leaks or other fluids. Next we do the fuel filters again to be as fresh as possible at leave time. With that done we then store enough spare oil and filters to do an entire change along with what we figure we may use up during our stay. For example we use 12 gallons of oil for a copmlete change and will probably wind up using about 4 during the course of our trip so we carry 16 extra and two full sets of filters for each engine and generator. No we don't plan on a change while we are there but if we were to blow an oil line or run extra hours we might need to. Again we can't get it there so we bring it.
No time to rest... Gotta keep movin... So starting with our lightest tackle first I get to making sure they all function properly (smooth drags, bails perform like they should, that they actually turn, that the handles spin freely). Then I spool em with fresh line. We tote two four pound outfits. We added these this year for the small bonefish we get at bimini. Next I do four 6lb outfits we have designated for taking a shot at a white marlin line class record. Not something I suggest for John Q. Public... Next I do six 10lb outfits that we use for yellow tails and another 4 that we use for bonefish. Why seperate em out like that? With the amount of fishing we do over the season trying to use one set for both would be pushing our luck with heavy wear and tear. Spreading that work load out leaves the tackle pretty much useable as opposed to all the way worn out.
We load up two 30lb spins for jigging a little deeper for black grouper. Two mor 30 spins get dressed out for pitch baiting sails and whites...
Slid back into the engine room and did all the sea strainers. Yuck! Don't know how water made it through a couple of them. Again, all you can do to go fresh is helpful on the long runs.
Next I had the fire extinguisher man come and check all the extinguishers. They all passed as usual but better safe than sorry... Life raft came off and out for its inspection. Its an eight man with a solas A package that would last a group for a week with emergency supplies. This is one place you don't want to scrimp. Even when I ran my little boats over I toted a valise style life raft as well as an inflatable inflated on the bow. We have both an inflatable and a hard bottom tri hull this year for a bow ornament. At Chub they get used to run fish across the marina to the fish cleaning house. At Bimini few things can fill your days better than bonefishing from them.
Next it was time to make my yellow tail box. 100 each of #2, #1, 1/0 hooks. Assorted split shot. Jig heads in 1/8 and 1/4 ounce. Small jigs. And a couple packs of #10 hooks in case ballyhoos show up. (we love having fresh hoos if we can get em)...Tip: We take a trip to wally world for the jig heads and we also pick up cheap marabou jigs there. We have to glue and re tie them but 8 for under $2 is a whole lot better than $1 or more each for other jigs. Also picked up a box of 45 and a box of 223 ammo... We'll discuss weapons later.
Swing past the marine store (won't name names) and picked up a fresh flare kit. Often over looked they do have exxpiration dates. Nevser seen a shooting type flare go bad but have seen the hand held types just absorb slat air and moisture to where they wont work... So better safe than sorry again... Got back to boat and feresh batteries for the jacket strobe lights. Examine each jacket to make sure the elements or cockroaches didn't get at em. Put it all away neatly. Do an inventory of emergency plugs. All sizes from 1/4 to 3 inch should be aboard... We also carry plastic and wood board in different sizes again for emergency hole patch. Lets pray we never have to use.
As you might wonder... With only a 43 foot boat where do we find room to put it all. This is where experience comes into play. Every inch of this boat gets used. I do all the loading myself so I (who will be there every day of the trip) will know where every last item is located. This is the light spin sets from yesterday loaded into just one closet. Note space under them is used as yowel storage. Believe it or not we fit clothes and even a guitar also in this closet.
And then on each current trip, do you add or modify that Checklist so that next year's trip goes even smoother?
During each of my trips, I always have a running list/notes of "things" that worked/did not work, etc, etc, etc and when I get home I'll review those notes and organize them so that they get incorporated into the next trip's Checklist.....
Yeah, love the Tap Lights and use a small one at night in the head versus blasting bright lights in my face!
CLICK HERE FOR FISH PIX
I run notebooks on top of note books... I keep them for mechanical, electrical, electronics, cosmetics, detailed fishing inshore, detailed fishing offshore, tackle notes, rig notes, what spreads in what conditions at what rpm work best, even books on the food we carry what goes quickest and what barely gets used at all. For now, I'm going to just outline stuff as I go and kind of bounce around... As we get deeper into this I'll post up my basic check lists... I might even break it down for what I would bring for a short trip on our small boat (31 Contender)... (Pictured here next to the 43 Viking we use for the long runs)
I have my outriggers all set for the triple lines. I need to add the teaser retrieval line I see in your picture- the one with the SS ring. How far up on the outrigger did put the line? I'm thinking about crimping a pulley on the mid-spreader "guide" (where the inside rigger line comes off). I'm curious what you did
Also, no creep with the triple pulley? I went with the hal-lock style and they seem to work well but don't move nearly as smoothly as the one in your pic
D... We run the bungies pretty tight but if wet or rough we do get creeping. On that side we rin big plastic as our inside rigger baits and use tag lines with rubber bands. If we wrap the old bands on the halyards the slip stops. We had crimped the rings to the spreader eye bolt but still had some rub issues and couldn't adjust the distance out from the boat like we can as pictured. Adjusting the length is nice for different types of teasers. or sea conditions. we also run two teasers off the transom cleats. We have four eye bolts on each rigger. Outside rigger gets the long one, inside rigger gets the next and teaser gets number three. I had considered using number four which I could rig from the tower with having to drop the riggers but by using number three I have more length options and get the "triangle" effect which helps keep the triple Tigress rollers straight in line.
We run pretty much one spread for Chub and a different one for Bimini. Of course there are variations but our staple spread for each place gets the most focus. In a typical day we get about 3-4 dozen bites but the rigs are recyclable to some degree. I find that we burn on average about 15 rigs per bait position per week. Since two are big lures that leaves 4 to focus on... 4 x 15 = 60 rigs... We assume 4 weeks of actual fishing so that becomes 240 rigs. We start with two weeks worth pre made and bring enough stuff to do over four times that replacing rigs as we go while there... Beyond that we cary about 120 odd ball rigs that we sometimes insert in place of our standards. The big lure count usually runs about 100-150 deep. We also tote "kits". Feather and pointed lures for tuna, wahoo kit, wahoo kit for bait, trolling plugs for wahoo, trolling plugs for grouper.
This mess represents about a week maybe two worth of "stuff"...
Once again there's a reason for so much... we can't get it there and the fish in the pocket can be brutal. Remember not all bites are gonna be that blue marlin we all dream of. Whites and sails in there thick too. Then of course wahoos make short work of our mono rigged stuff. Cudas can do some nasty damage as well. The number one tackle burner we deal with though are the later season slob class dolphin that absolutely can destroy small lures with little effort.
This before and after shot shows what I mean...
I like the triangle affect you are talking about.
CFrawled back into the motors some. As mentioned in the begining of this thread we just did extensive work on em. One of em is not quite right and dumping way too much fuel at the top end. We seldom run top end but its an indicator that the fuel sending module on the computer is not operating properly. Don't want to risk any issues on that side. Not to mention big fuel savings having it right. Difference between 50 gal per hour and 65 is huge on a long trip... That $150 module will pay for itself in a couple hours of running...
Next was taking the first run at staple foods. I caught crud last year about showing our food stocks and somebody spotted our Chef BoyArdee supply. After eating dolphin and conch for months on end that stuff is a treat! Peanut butter and jelly, canned tuna, canned veggies, boxed potatoes, mac n cheese, condiments, rice, oat meal, sauce mixes, spaghetti, sugar, dry creamer, coffee, tea, all hold well so that got the grab today. Shorter shelf life stuff will be down the line a ways as will the added weight and bulk of our soda stash.
Laid in more canned goods and other products with expiration dates past the end of our run... Tough in January to find stuff that will last through mid June. Reading glasses getting a work out. Brain scanning the shelves for best pricing also a challenge...
Set up my bonefish box, long shank and short shank various hooks from #1-3/0. Assorted split shot and a hand ful of assorted wiggle jigs in a pocket size box I can wade with opens up a great way to spend a little time when not working the blue water or pressing projects on the boat.
Next was the grouper box... One shelf type heavy duty box with an assortment of jigs from 1 oince all the way up to 12 ounce jumbos for the deeper drops. Tied up 50 two hook "guppy rigs. Used to tie and use a lot more but owner not into the bottom stuff at all and lead is friggin outrageous expensive these days... Half a gross of the 1 ounce jigs covers most of what we plan on this season. Tipped with a strip of cuda, they are the ****...
Just scratched the surface of the soda loading today... Eventually we will have 28 cases in our center hold. Shop around. I see it like $5 a 12pack on the shelves most places but can usually get for half that on sale. We go with 10 Coke and the other 18 are mixed. Root beer, orange, grape, ginger ale, mountain dew, sprite, some diet... Iced tea and gatorade are usually in powder form for us and we mix as we go. Plain water is the most used of all our beverages but we only bring a few cases. We make our own water over there and refill the bottles as we go. beer is a bit of an issue... Way way pricey on that side. We usually get granted a case a man without duty so thats only four cases...I dont drink and my mate doesn't drink beer so we reserve it for the boss mans VIP friends. I have found that a bottle of Bacardi and an another of Vodka covers a lot of bases back at the dock while waiting to head up for happy hour and dinner. One rule we strictly adhere to on the boat though is no drinking of any kind til we are tied up and the engines off. Taking out as many factors that might contribute to an injury is priority one! At Chub, we are 35 miles of usually rough water to the nearest medical help and Bimini's clinic is not a place I want to count on for getting patched up properly . Tomorrows update I'll cover what medical provisions we bring.
Of course you want to pack it in a way that stuff doesn't crush itself. Next refinement is to stow it in a way you can access stuff. Stuff you wont be needing for a while gets set back while stuff you will need early on gets set up closer to reach. When loading a small boat for the long run air is not our friend. I fill every inch with stuff we might need.
The final refinement when loading is to distribute weight properly. You would think that a viking weighing in about 50,000 pounds wouldn't care but she is real sensitive to weight and where its at... Heavy goes low and center. Light works hig and out toward the edges. Carefull not to go bow or stern heavy either.
Ran into some common sense issue today that I hadn't given much thought to before. I was loading bottled water and jugs of clorox into our shower stall. That poor stall gets a work out on everything except showering. Any way I noticed that squeezing the jugs in place had one of em pressed against the sharp corner of the folding door and would have in short order pinctured the jug... Some simple shifting of stuff eliminated that problem...
Moved on from that project and gathered my paint supplies. Waiting on a slot in our boat yard to stuff my boat in and start that part of the process. Hopefully tomorrow I can haul and get to work...
Next I got on line to Magic Jack for a renewal... Its not the greatest but if I get enough signal and speed it works good enough and 2 cents a minute is a whole lot better than $2 a minute. We have a sat phone but thats still a buck a minute.
Printed out customs forms and will have plenty of time to fill out in advance. I hate having to fill them out after crossing with a heavy boat. I way prefer hitting the dock. Shut em down and start walking to the office...
Free time sucks cause I get to think about "stuff". Its time for the yard. I have prop man ready to rock. Under water light man ready to do his thing. Sign man has our new lettering for the transom to replace the one on there thats all torn up from bill scratches. Compound and wax crew ready to go. What sucks is my marina failed to clear a slot to haul me and set me and "forgot" as they put two skiffs in there instead of on work racks. Lack of competence has me held up and I don't deal with that very well... A well orchestrated yard trip is a thing of beauty... a disorganized helter skelter one is just no fun. Year after year I strive to get it done right and smooth. This year the pieces are in place if I can haul tomorrow. If not rescheduling the others is gonna be a run around. I hate going like a mad man at sanding and painting and being done in three days only to have something drag out for an extra week or more.
Got hauled this morn and I got my first real good look at em. What sloppy work they did... One blade was 1/8" out and another almost a 1/4"... 2 of 4 not right is a big issue with me. Then I noticed there was virtually no cup at all. Fired my old prop and shaft man and the shop they used. New guy right on it. First thing they will do is computer scan em and do some kind of scope to make sure the metal can take another reconditioning. Hopefully they can put pitch and cup back in em...
If they are right I leave em alone... When they are this far out of my comfort zone they get worked.
Got home and right back into other stuff. Still no customs sticker and another reminder to them. Got some heavy scheduling issues staring me in the face for this run so was up all night trying to map out alternatives. Changes make the boss man and myself cranky so we were goin at it back and forth quite a bit the last 30 or so hours. He decides to go over each bill from recent months. He's the boss and welcome to do that but he knows I am the single cheapest tightest guy on the planet. Not one item or service is obtained without shopping hard and clearing it with him first. So its an excercise in what I don't know... We grumble and growl at each other. "I'm the owner!" "Yeah... Well I'm the guy that makes this thing float, go fast and stay shiny so take that!"
Just boils down to venting some steam... Thats what being parts of a team is all about. Any way, working toward fixing our schedule.
Now a lot of you probably wonder why I'd even bring up a topic like squabbling in a thread like this... The answer is simple. It goes with the turf. Not all of captaining is sunshine and boat driving. Time working together is part of it. When the honeymoon is over to make it work it will be some good days and some where frustrations about unrealted things get unloaded on those we care most about...
That leads into something often overlooked on long trips like this... People living in confined quarters for extended periods of time are bound to wear on each other no matter how good friends they are. In your scheduling of time over there make sure to add in some "me" or "you" time... At Chub even when busy we can get some alone time. In mornings while I'm warming the engines up my deckhand will go off and get ice. I'll walk over to the beach and check the sea condition while he finishes prepping the baits. Back at the dock he can clean and bag the catch while I wash and shammy the boat. After dinner one of us will fish and the other chill watching dvd's.
Days not fishing, when the boat chores are done. He'll often go snorkling. I'll pick up a rod and wade a flat or two. Later he might go explore some near shore spots and I'll "make work' messing with tackle, rebuilding lures, or making fresh rigs... Doesn't seem like a big deal but giving our selves some space is really important considering the cabin on that express is pretty tight especially after weeks on end...