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Island Prep 2012

CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
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.


  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    I hate the engine room or tedious things so today I split things up... I started by changing out our outrigger stuff. Fresh halyards, fresh clips, fresh snaps, fresh bungies, fresh pullies, even added a designated teaser halyard... Of course I bring... you guessed it... Enough rigger rigging stuff to do it all again should the need arise. Last year a big blue piled on a teaser and the way we used to set up allowed the teaser line to saw through our halyards and we lost a rigger full of clips and stuff... Thats why this year we added a designated line that wont be in contact with others.
    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.
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    Next set is 20 lb set of four for jigging strawberry groupers . Mid day at Chub we break from billfishing during the lull and go drift anywhere from 16-90 feet for the tasty ones... Often we get special guest appearances from African pompano, horse eyes, bigger red or yellowfin grouper , even slob yellowtails will grab a jig now and then. These outfits come back into play some years for muttons at bimini or used for school dolphin also when we get to bimini.
    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...
  • TNTTNT Posts: 33 Deckhand
    Hey Paul, hows it going.......What tournaments are you doing this year? You doing Guy Harvey's Bimini Billfish Invitational again? I really enjoy and look forward to this thread every year. Hope all is well.

  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    Yep... Doin that one and plannin on Chub as well... Loading the shower stall on board with trophies again is on the to do list. :)
  • islandbum001islandbum001 Posts: 51 Deckhand
    Great start, there is no better read from an office computer!
    Walker's Edge
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    Today was more multitasking... Loaded 4 x 30lb troll outfits then did my work horse 30 wides. They are jerry brown backed with topshots of 50(2) and 60lb(2) mono... I would do that set all with 60 top shot but the Chub tourney is 50lb max. With 60 set at 14 pounds of drag and sometimes up to say 18 pounds they can do the work of even full sized 80lb sets... 50 I'm stuck with about 12 pounds of drag with 14 being maxed out within my "safe" zone.
    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.
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    Yesterdays tripple rigging of the riggers with designated teaser ring...

    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.
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,648 Captain
    Is there a bra cup sticking up there in the last picture on the left hand side?
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    Mind out of the gutter please... :) Thats a tap light... We have them in each closet, cupboard, etc... another just in case thing should the 12volt and 110 systems both go away... And yes that does happen when theres a power outage in the night while were sleeping...
  • Gary MGary M Posts: 13,246 AG
    Do you have all the "jobs" and things that you want/need to do, all listed on an organized Checklist?

    Stuff like:

    Air Cond

    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!
  • INTREPID377INTREPID377 Posts: 3,736 Captain
    This thread is awesome. I look forward to following your exploits in the islands again this year.
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    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)
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    Theres a reason they are parked next to each other right now... Transferring goodies back and forth. We do come home now and then and use the Contender locally so we keep some basics aboard for that.
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,648 Captain
    indeed this is a classic thread, one i also look forward to each year. last yeat, there were fewer fishing days though. if things are slow, perhaps we can get a group of people to go over and fish with compleat. surely we can pay for the fuel??
  • crackerDcrackerD Posts: 124 Deckhand
    Compleat- Looking ahead to another epic thread.

    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
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    Alacrity... We don't charter as such but I have green light to take friends as long as expenses are covered. Agreed that we don't get to fish there nearly as much as we want to and if you want to... bring it on...

    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.
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    Ok... Today was an easy one... getting here wasn't so easy tho. Time to put away some of the rigs I have been making. We go through so many on a long trip that this process is an ongoing ordeal during the off season at home usally while watching TV... I have outlined in the past how to figure on what we'll use...

    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...
  • crackerDcrackerD Posts: 124 Deckhand
    Thanks Compleat. You have quite the selection there!

    I like the triangle affect you are talking about.
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    Today a little more bouncing around... Put new topshots and wind ons on our heavier stuff. 2 x 80w, 2 x 70v, 4 x 50w, 4 x 30w. All done and set for action. You'll take note that I have made no mention of sharpening hooks. That is one of the few things we leave alone right up til we're ready to fish. Salt air on fresh ground steel plays havoc with em... On recycled hooks that have already been sharpened we touch them up with magic markers. Other hooks we use are lazer or chemically sharpened and basically disposable after a day or two of use...
    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.
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    Continued loading in staples today... Took a break to get with Tim from Canyongear and have him make some custom lures for me. Some of you might kow I had a pretty large lure company of my own for several years. I "retired" from it some years ago but now and then I fire up and make a lot of my own lures. Some others I passed the designs off to them and its easier to have them make me some the way I want than it is to fire up all the stuff I need to make my own. They use new eurethane technology which is virtually bulletproof compared to the resin heads I was pouring. This allows me to cary fewer of the big lures and saves a few cubic inches of space for each one I don't have to carry. Every inch is soooo important!
    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.
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    Yet more loading... Getting kinda full on our holds and now at a point where I need to start the "balancing act". Its one thing carrying a lot of stuff but carrying it "right" is just as important.
    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...
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    Today was more tackle stuff... Fresh wind ons, fresh snaps, fresh knots... Then made up a bunch more bait/combo rigs for the tournaments. Billfish tournies require circle hooks in any bait that has any or all of it as natural. For years we couldn't make circkles work with the lure / bait combos and it sucked having to take them out of the spread as they really are our top producers. This summer I was up north for a shark tourney and in a local shop up there i found a unique design circle meant for striped bass. I eyeballed it hard and came up with a rig in my head that would work. Contacted the hook importer and had them make me a suplly of marlin class versions of it that would be tourney legal but ciould be rigged in a way as our combos would work with them. At Ocean City tournament we gave them a try. Though not even close to being in the running for a prize we were tickled that they worked like a charm on most everything that bit. This is one "trick" I'm not gonna detail as I plan on using it for an edge as long as we can before somebody else catches on... :) I do think TNT Ted has some idea of where I'm headed with it tho...
    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...
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    Ok so now its night. That doesn't mean its time to slack up. Just wrote a ****? letter to the DTOPS people responsible for customs decals... Ordered several weeks ago Talked to them last week and its still not here... Without it in hand I'm not going anywhere. Yeah I could easily go and when it gets here have somebody bring it over or I could get it when I come home for a break but I trust nothing government related so I'm gonna ride em like a rusty ten speed.
    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.
  • crackerDcrackerD Posts: 124 Deckhand
    Compleat- What is the prop guy doing? I get my boat hauled once a year but haven't had any prop work done. I assume calibrate for balance? Is this an annual thing for you?
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    This year we need to fix last years awful recondition/ de- pitch job. Our engines were sick and getting sicker. My mechanic thought he would help by having some pitch taken out of em. Well that shaved 2.7 knots of normal cruise and had me cavitating something terrible. We had just got em back like at leave time last year so I had to go without testing. Big mistake that hindered my ability to run anywhere comfortably.
    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.
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    Well a full day in the yard does wear one out... Took forever to get those wheels off and sent out. I went like lighting at sanding and prepping the bottom and running gear til I just couldn't move my arms any more... So far no surprises under there other than the wheels being stubborn... Last year I had ample time to get that bottom really right and a year didn't mess her up too bad. Doing stuff right helps the next time you do it... I'm thinking by tomorrow late I can at least get the running gear primed and painted.
    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.
  • alacrityalacrity Posts: 2,648 Captain
    compleat, when do you expect to be there?
  • CompleatCompleat Posts: 2,777 Captain
    Right now the when and where is completely up in the air. We had a pretty set schedule not too different than last year but looks like its been scrapped... Thats what has the boss and I so edgy with each other today...

    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...
  • GRSCGRSC Posts: 942 Officer
    Love this post - thanks for checking in again this year.
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