Florida Keys (high 81, low 71)
We planned on getting the boat in the water early yesterday. When we got up, I checked my Weatherbug app and it was calling for a 40% chance of rain with some thunderstorms. I’m not a fan of being in a boat during a squall, so I was a bit hesitant. Years ago, when we were 25 miles offshore while diving off of Tarpon Springs, Florida, Al made a decision (twice) that the storms we could see in the distance were not bad or were not heading our way. On two separate occasions, I let Al make the decision on whether or not we should head back to shore. On both of those occasions, Al was proven wrong. It got so bad out that our compass was spinning, our antenna buzzing, we were in a blinding thunderstorm, and not really sure which direction “in” was. So……after those two occasions, Al told me that I would make all future weather related decisions. :)
We decided to run into town for some groceries and wait to see what the weather was going to do. and The seas were flat calm, but it was pretty cloudy.
We ended up at a garage sale in the heart of Key Deer territory.
Key Deer are only found here in the Keys, and only on Big Pine Key. They are smaller than regular deer, so they are pretty cute.
This group here had a baby who was no more than 2 feet tall. It’s hard to see their size from the picture. They are all pretty tame, because they are fed, despite all the signs telling people not to feed them.
Al scored at the garage sale with a new/used fishing pole and reel. He needed one for bigger fish. Optimistic guy, isn’t he?
We puttered around town for a while, came home, fixed lunch, puttered around some more trying to decide if we should take the boat out or not. By this time, it started clearing up and the only rain I saw on the radar was a long way from here.
We finally got the boat in the water about 3pm. I had been worried about the manatee in the marina that we saw the day before. I was happy not to see her back there.
The seas were flat calm without even a ripple. It was almost like glass and the water was crystal clear.
We went over to the Atlantic side of the 7 Mile Bridge and anchored in 5 feet of water near Money Key.
We could see the bottom and it was covered with sponge, conch, and Bahama Starfish.
That’s Money Key in the background.
Al was hoping to get a Florida lobster, since lobster season is ending the end of March.
Florida lobster are unlike Maine lobster. You only eat the tail section and they have no front claws. They have long antenna and when they back into crevasses, you can usually only see their antenna. When you see one, you have to “tickle” them out of their hole by sticking a pole behind them and touching (tickling) their tail. When you do that, they walk right out, you use your snare tool to catch them and you have your lobster. It sounds easy, but it isn’t because they are very, very fast.
Al managed to find a few lobsters, but the first/bigger one got away from him. He found another one and successfully got it back to the boat.
I have never had lobster, but I may have to give it a try. The meat is white and according to Al, very tasty.
I didn’t do any snorkeling yesterday because it was so late when we started, I didn’t think I would have an opportunity, so I didn’t wear my swimsuit. Instead, I sat in the boat sweating in the heat and with no breeze. Today, I’m wearing a swimsuit and intend to get wet. The water is only 78.7 degrees according to our fishfinder, so that’s a little chilly for me.
While we were sitting offshore, these three helicopters flew over. I believe they were military and it was pretty cool seeing them all overhead. It reminded me of the old TV show Mash.
Reluctantly, we left our nice little spot and went along the old section of the original 7 Mile Bridge. This is actually the railway that Henry Flagler built. It’s survived a few hurricanes since the early 1900’s, but is still standing. Notice the shrubs growing on the concrete structure?
Since the water was so calm and clear you could drive along at a good speed and still see the fish on the bottom.
Al decided that was the perfect time to look for little rock piles and holes where fish congregate. Most of the ocean floor is flat bottom with either sand or sea grass. Fish don’t congregate in those areas and you need to find some sort of structure if you want to find fish.
As we are driving along, he would stop when he started seeing fish and soon we would find a little rock pile where there were a lot of tropical fish. We saw a lot of angel fish, some hogfish, grouper, lobster and even a moral eel. We marked them on the GPS and plan on going back and snorkeling/diving them today. All the spots were in shallow water. It is so cool to be in water clear enough to see the bottom.
One of these days we are going to venture further offshore and out to the coral reefs. We are waiting for perfect conditions, but in the meantime, we will be pretty happy with some inshore rocks with tropical fish and lobster.
We finally decided we had better head in before the sun set.
The weather forecast for today is 0-3 mph winds and no rain, so it looks like another boating day.